Obverse Design

Indian Bust facing left with the legend "WOODEN NICKEL" above. Circle around the Indian Bust and legend. This design is apparently the "1. Indian head without U.S.A." design on the Old Time Wooden Nickel Company's museum page.

Reverse Design Legend "Columbus Club" above. Legend "Balboa Canal Zone" below. The center has the legend "HAPPY NEW YEAR 1971".
Color Black print on natural wood.
Material Wood. Weight About 2.5 grams. Size and Shape Round, 37.5 mm in diameter.
Dates Issued New Year, 1971
Issuer

Columbus Club based in Balboa, Canal Zone. Tentatively identified as part of the Knights of Colombus organization, which frequently shortens its name to "Columbus Club". The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic men's organization which engages in assistance to sick, disabled and needy members and their families as well as public relief efforts. The organization has over a million members in different parts of the world including Panama. The Catholic Churches in the vicinity of Balboa were St. Mary's Mission in Balboa and Sacred Heart Chapel in Ancon. Please e-mail me if you know more about the Columbus Club of Balboa.

Columbus Club also issued some plastic tokens in different denominations.

Mintage Unknown.
Rarity Scarce. Manufacturer Probably the Old Time Wooden Nickel Company. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's FM-5, Henkle's CZ-10 and Schimmel #8.
Varieties There is a similar variety celebrating Christmas 1970, and a second New Year 1971 variety with a totally different obverse.
Function The function of this piece is unknown besides what can be deduced from the piece itself. It could be a souvenir from the Columbus Club. The club may have raised money for charity, and the wooden nickel was given to donors in appreciation. Please e-mail me if you have information about the club or this piece.
Population Count Five specimens in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  1. Private sale in February 2003 for $5.

St. Mary's Mission in Balboa around 1950
St. Mary's Mission in Balboa around 1950
From Dexter Press Post Card No. C 1084
pc120-02