Obverse Design The legend "BARROWS PANAMA" curves along the top. The token says "COFFEE" and "LANDS" in two lines horizontally across the bottom half of the token. Above "COFFEE" is an ornament that looks like an elaborate "&". On either side of the word "LANDS" is a dash. Under the word "LANDS" is an elaborate branch ornament. The token has a somewhat weak dentured edge, and a smooth raised rim.
Reverse Design The center of the token has a large "50" (no cent sign). The legend "GOOD FOR" curves along the top. The legend "IN TRADE" curves along the bottom. The normal star dividers are missing from this denomination. The token has a dentured edge, and a smooth raised rim.
Metal Brass. Weight 10.0 grams. Size and Shape Round, 33.5 mm in diameter.
Dates Issued Unknown.
Issurer Barrows Panama Coffee Lands.
Mintage Unknown.
Rarity Common. Manufacturer Unknown, probably located in the Ventura, California area. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's F-62, Conte Porras page #107, Henkle's Unknown Panama Locality #8, Plumer page #1, Rulau's Pan 1.
Varieties None known.
Function Plantation token.
Population Count Fourteen specimens of this token in collector hands are known to me. Recent sales include:
  1. Auction sale on ebay of a specimen in Extra Fine condition on May 6, 2001 for $53.01.

The Barrows Coffee Lands finca was founded by Arthur C. Barrows, his wife Virginia ("Jennie") and his brother Frank. The Barrows family imigrated from Ventura, California to Panama. Their finca was located in the mountains of Chiriqui in the vicinity of El Volcan. The main tract of the finca was 350 acres in size, and the home tract was 75 acres. Operations started in 1927 with the planting of the coffee trees.

Unfortunately Arthur succumbed to "black water fever" on March 20, 1931. He was buried in Puerto Armuelles. His son Lester became foreman of the Barrows Coffee Lands finca and served in this capacity from June 1932 to May 1934. The finca initially did well under Lester's direction, but went under when a "blight" destroyed much of the crop. Operations ceased around 1935. Lester married a Panamanian girl he met while working at the finca. He went on to work on the Inter-American highway and then for The Panama Canal in the Locks Division.

The tokens may have been manufactured in the Ventura, California area when Frank Barrows was there on a business trip in 1928. After the finca went bust, the tokens were disposed of by being dumped in pouches down a river bank. Only a handful survive in collector hands.

Design Notes

The five cent piece has "IN MERCHANDISE" instead of "IN TRADE" like the rest of the series. The 50 cent piece, unlike the rest of the series, does not have the cent sign or the star dividers. The font-type, especially that of the large numerals, varies from denomination to denomination. These inconsistencies suggest that the Barrows saved some money by using "stock" reverses for the manufacture of these tokens.

More Examples of PT45-50
Detail of PT-45.50
Detail of PT-45.50
Scale: 6 pixels equals one millimeter