Obverse Design All lettering is incuse. First line is numbers such as "2398" (the employee number) across the check, in a large font. Second line is "PANAMA CANAL" in smaller letters curving along the bottom edge of the brass check.
Reverse Design Blank.
Metal Brass Size and Shape Round 39 mm in diameter with a slot or oval hole at the top.
Dates Issued Unknown. One possibility Hamlin raised was 1914, but I have found no evidence for that view. The evidence suggests 1938 through the beginning of World War II. An online auction had a retirement lot for Mary Nagle. She worked for the Panama Canal Company from January, 1921 through 1945. Besides papers documenting her service was her id check, a Panama Canal Round #1384. Since the octagon checks were in use from January 1, 1920 through August, 1938, she most likely received it in 1938. By 1947,and most likely during World War II, an identification check with a photo was in use.
Issurer Panama Canal Company. This was the U.S. government entity set up by Congress to maintain and operate the canal.
Numbers Issued Pieces in collector hands include #432, #792, #1206, #1384, #1599, #1633, #1970, #2238, #2398 and #3100.
Rarity Common. Manufacturer Unknown. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's ID 10, Hamlin's MISC-5, Rulau's CZ 78.
Varieties Some checks have 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 Panama Canal Company employees. They were used in controlling access to Panama Canal facilities (such as commissaries and hotels). They probably were also used to identify each employee when they were cashing their pay certificate or paycheck.
Population Count Ten specimens of this variety of brass check in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  • Check #432 - Auction sale on ebay on February 9, 2007 for $52.52 plus $4.50 shipping.
  • Check #792 - Auction sale on ebay on March 14, 2006 for $52.51 plus $2.00 shipping.
  • Check #1206 - Auction sale on ebay on February 20, 2002 for $45.00.
  • Check #10644 - Auction sale on ebay on February 8, 2001 with a Retirement Certificate and cover letter for a total of $70.00.

Another Example of CK-3.4
Picture of another CK-3.4
Scale: 4 pixels equals one millimeter