Graphic Art - Not an Actual Scanned Image

Obverse Design Most lettering appears pressed from reverse side. Number is incuse. Has an inner circle below the top hole. Top line curving along inner edge "SNYDER BROS." Second line in a larger font "21" (employee number) with decorative dots on either side near the edge. Last line curving along the bottom edge "CHIRIQUI PLNT.".
Reverse Design Blank - may have the reverse impression of the lettering.
Metal Copper Size and Shape Round, 35 mm in diameter. Round hole at the top.
Dates Issued Sometime between 1888 and 1898; most likely in the period 1892 to 1896.

Snyder Brothers Banana Company, running the "Chiriqui Plantation". The name "Chiriqui" is best known as a very fertile province in western Panama, known for its agriculture. However "Chiriqui Lagoon" is the name of a large natural bay in Bocas Del Toro province, where the Snyder Brothers Banana Company had their plantation. After working for the Frank Brothers Banana Company, the Snyder brothers started their own banana company around 1888 in Bocas del Toro area of what was then Columbia. Their period of greatest expansion was 1892 to 1896. Minor C. Keith at some point became half-owner in the Snyder Brothers Banana Company, which joined with three other companies to form the United Fruit Company in 1898.

Thanks to Captain Larry Mahan for most of this history.

Numbers Issued Pieces known to be in collector hands include only #21.
Rarity Very Rare. Manufacturer Unknown. Source Rulau's Chq 18 (Jess Peters Jan. 1975 sale, lot 217), Asociación Numismático's F-274.
Varieties None known.

Attributed as a tool check by Captain Larry Mahan, who has studied original documents pertaining to the Snyder Brothers Banana Company. The Snyders' had several machine repair shops at the various plantations. As employees would borrow a tool, a tag with his number would be placed in the vacant tool position. This would guarantee that the tool would be returned or that employee would have to pay for the loss.

The tag was probably manufactured between 1892 and 1896 as this was the time period of the expansion and machine shops construction.

This check was called a "slave token" in the Jess Peters sale, but that does not seem at all likely. Slaves were emancipated in Panama in 1852, which was before most development in western Panama.

Population Count Known specimens are as follows:
  1. Check #21 - Warren Lloyd Plumer Collection (simulated above).

United Fruit Company Hospital in Bocas Del Toro
United Fruit Company Hospital in Bocas Del Toro
From Conquest of the Tropics by Fredrick Upham Adams