Graphic Art - Based on Image in the Catálogo Numismático De Panamá

Obverse Design

Bust of Balboa facing left with the legend "POR UN INTERES COMUN" above (translation: "For a common interest"). Legend "EXPOCOMER 85" below.

Reverse Design Eagle facing left with spread wings. Legend "AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE" curving above.
Color Black print on natural wood.
Material Wood. Weight Probably about 2.5 grams. Size and Shape Round, diameter 47 mm per Asociación Numismático's 1996 catalog. This may be a typing error, as 37.5 mm is the standard diameter for wooden nickels.
Dates Issued 1985.
Issuer American Chamber of Commerce of Panama.
Mintage Unknown.
Rarity Very Rare. Manufacturer Unknown. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's Md-72.
Varieties This is the only known variety.
Function The wooden nickel apparently was a souvenir handed out at the US Pavilion at Expocomer 85.
Population Count Only one specimen in collector hands is known to me. I do not know of any recent sales.

The EXPOCOMER trade show is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (la Cámara de Comercio, Industrias y Agricultura de Panamá). It has been called the most important trade show in Latin America. The mission of this trade show is to be a "Showcase of World Commerce", and it is organized with pavilions for each participating country where exhibitors from that nation have booths with product information. It is held at the 20,000 sq. meter Atlapa Convention Center in Panama. In 2006 they had 475 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors representing 32 different countries from around the world. The first EXPOCOMER was held in 1983, so EXPOCOMER 85 was the third annual trade show. The event has a web site in English and Spanish at EXPOCOMER.COM.

The American Chamber of Commerce organization (known as Amcham) was formed in 1978. One of its roles was to encourage American companies to do business in Panama. Juan Sosa was the first Panamanian President of the organanization in 1986 (Juan Sosa was the Panamanian ambasador to the United States from 1987 to 1989 and played a key role in the Noriega conflict). Members in the late 1980's included Chase Manhattan Bank, IBM and Kodak.

The American Chamber of Commerce in 1985 presumably was an exhibitor at the U.S. Pavilion. Most likely they handed out these wooden nickels to visitors as souvenirs.

Rain Coming Down on Panama City
Rain Coming Down on Panama City
Photo by David S. Plowman, 1993. All Rights Reserved.