Reverse Side is Graphic Art - Not an Actual Scanned Image

Obverse Design All lettering incused. Manufacturer's name is in very tiny letters at the top "AM.RY.S. CO. NEW YORK" above the slotted hole. Line across the middle "100010" (the employee number). Line curved along the bottom "I.C.C."
Reverse Design Blank.
Metal Brass Size and Shape Round with a diameter of 35.5 mm. There is a oval hole or slot at the top.
Dates Issued Issued starting January 19, 1909, first to contract laborers. By March 1 they were issued to the remainder of the employees. They were used until replaced by the Panama Canal issues when the Isthmian Canal Commission was disbanded. The ICC was abolished effective April 1, 1914. The checks were replaced in June, 1914, and were no longer valid after June 30, 1914.
Issurer Isthmian Canal Commission. This was the U.S. government entity set up by Congress to build the canal.
Numbers Issued Pieces in collector hands include #100010, #115495, #179974, #218940 and #219930. Numbers were initially manufactured from 100000 to 180000 in this variety, and apparently released at least through 219,930. See the historical note for more details.
Rarity Scarce. Manufacturer AM.RY.S.CO., NEW YORK which was the American Railway Supply Company. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's ID-9, Hamlin's ICC-65 and Rulau's CZ 74.

When the numbers issued went to six digits, a new variety was issued using a smaller size for the numbers (in order for them to fit on the check).

Some checks may have one or two additional small holes. If the lettering and numbers are undamaged, there is no reduction in value for these holes.

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).
Historical Note

The following quote is taken from an article by Eugene Hamlin, Jr. titled "CANAL ZONE BRASS CHECKS" which appeared in The Panama Collector newsletter (September, 1985 issue):

Concerning the round checks it is known that 180,000 were manufactured, numbered from "1" up. By 1912 about 165,000 had been issued to various timekeepers. The numbers from 1 to 20,000 were issued to contract men and special laborers, but above that number they were given out without... distinction.

The Governor's circular of June 24, 1914 states that the old metal checks (the ICC Round Checks) were not to be taken up when the new checks were issued.

Population Count Five specimens of this variety of brass check in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  • Check #115495 - Auction sale on ebay on March 1, 2007 for $56.99.
  • Check #218940 - Auction sale on ebay on May 5, 2002 with a CK-3.1 for a total of $99.95.

ICC Paymasters and Guards taking a Break
ICC Paymasters and Guards taking a Break