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. N. Y.". First line across the top "P.R.R.CO.". Line across the middle in larger font "6728" (employee number). Third line "EMPLOYEE".
Reverse Design Blank.
Metal Brass Size and Shape Rectangle 43 mm wide and 37 mm high with a slot or oval hole at the top.
Dates Issued Unknown. Separate Panama Railroad checks were used probably starting in August, 1905 through January, 1915 when the separate checks were retired and the railroad employees used the Panama Canal checks. The different "P.R.R.CO." types may be the later ones issued.
Issuer Panama Railroad. During the construction era, the Panama Railroad was a separate entity from the Canal operations for accounting purposes.
Numbers Issued Pieces in collector hands include #4402, #6728, #8339, #11995, ##20101, #44952.
Rarity Scarce. Manufacturer AM.RY.S.CO., NEW YORK which was the American Railway Supply Company. Other Catalog Numbers Hamlin's PRR-10, Asociación Numismático's ID 15.
Varieties None known.
Function These were employee id checks, and metal checks were issued to all Panama Railroad employees. The Panama Railroad employees were also United States government employees and were given access to all the same Isthmian Canal Commission (ICC) facilities as regular ICC employees. These metal checks 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):

When the I.C.C. went out of existence in 1914 a new square Panama Canal metal check was issued. The Governor's circular of Jun 24, 1914 reserved the nos. from one thru 19,999 for gold employees with those higher nos. for use of silver employees. This circular also provided for certain distribution of numbers according to work performed. Although it is not known to this author when the various P.R.R. Co. metal checks came into use there is, however, a circular of January 6, 1915 entitled "Retirement of Panama Railroad Brass Checks" signed by the Auditor, Panama Canal which stated that P.R.R. checks would be retired and Panama Canal checks issued in lieu thereof. It went on to say that numbers 15001 to 20000 would be issued to or reserved for future use of Panama Railroad gold employees and nos. 80001 to 100,000 for P.R.R. silver employees. It also noted that nos. 80001 to 86000 would be for the Balboa agency and 86001 to 92000 for the use of the Colon agency. The P.R.R. checks would not be honored after January 15, 1915. Again, a fee or fine of 50 cents was to be paid for checks not turned in.
Population Count Six specimens of this variety of brass check in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  • Check #4402 - Auction sale on eBay on December 4, 2006 for $78.77 plus $1.50 shipping.
  • Check #44952 - Auction sale on eBay on August 18, 2003 for $34.33 plus $2.50 shipping.
  • Check #20101 - Auction sale on eBay on July 12, 2003 for $86.89 plus $2.50 shipping.

Panama Railroad Train Crossing Central Avenue around 1930
Panama Railroad Train Crossing Central Avenue around 1930
From the Canal Zone Review, Bicentennial Edition 1976