Reverse Side is Graphic Art - Not an Actual Scanned Image

Obverse Design All lettering is incused. Line along upper left edge "ISTHMIAN". Line along upper right edge "-CANAL-". Line curved downward across the bottom "COMMISSION". Line across the middle "employee number".
Reverse Design Blank.
Metal Brass Size and Shape Diamond shape with rounded corners. 38 mm wide by 59 mm high. Round hole at the top.
Dates Issued Diamond shaped checks were issued starting in August 1905. They were replaced by the star-shaped checks, sometime before September 4, 1907.
Issurer Isthmian Canal Commission. This was the U.S. government entity set up by Congress to build the canal.
Numbers Issued Pieces include #59214, #72456, #72622, #85345, #85375, #87323, #88593, #95423 and #99997. Exact variety of #65555 and #75285 is uncertain.
Rarity Common. Manufacturer Unknown, but perhaps American Railway Supply Co. out of New York. Other Catalog Numbers Hamlin's ICC-20, Rulau's CZ 72, Asociación Numismático's ID-1.
Varieties The diamond-shaped 38mm by 59mm checks come in two varieties, with either small-sized or large-sized numbers. Rulau also reports a variety that is 35mm by 53mm.
Function These were employee id checks, issued to all Isthmian Canal Commission (ICC) employees. They were used in controlling access to ICC facilities (such as commissaries and hotels). They were also used to identify each employee when they were cashing their pay certificate (similar to a paycheck).
Population Count Eleven specimens of this variety of metal check in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  • Check #87323 - Reserve was not met in an auction on eBay on March 5, 2007. This piece was attached a "A Life For Each Tie PANAMA" souvenir.
  • Check #85345 - Sold at auction on eBay on January 1, 2007 as part of a lot of twelve items for $150, including ICC star check #47987.
  • Check #88593 - Offered for auction on eBay starting at of $60 for an auction ending July 12, 2003. Did not sell.
  • Check #95423 - Sold at auction on eBay on October 4, 2002 for $58.87. This piece was embedded in an "Official Panama Canal Souvenir Paperweight."