Obverse Design

Buffalo facing left with the legend "WOODEN NICKEL" above and "UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA" below. Circle surrounding the Buffalo and both legends. This design is apparently the "3. Small "hairy" buffalo with large U.S.A. 'Untied' error" design on the Old Time Wooden Nickel Company's museum page.

Reverse Design Legend "Columbus Club" above. Legend "Balboa Canal Zone" below. The center has the legend "HAPPY NEW YEAR 1971".
Color Brown print on natural wood.
Material Wood. Weight About 2.5 grams. Size and Shape Round, 37.5 mm in diameter.
Dates Issued New Year, 1971

Columbus Club based in Balboa, Canal Zone. Tentatively identified as part of the Knights of Colombus organization, which frequently shortens its name to "Columbus Club". The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic men's organization which engages in assistance to sick, disabled and needy members and their families as well as public relief efforts. The organization has over a million members in different parts of the world including Panama. The Catholic Churches in the vicinity of Balboa were St. Mary's Mission in Balboa and Sacred Heart Chapel in Ancon. Please e-mail me if you know more about the Columbus Club of Balboa.

Columbus Club also issued some plastic tokens in different denominations.

Mintage Unknown.
Rarity Rare. Manufacturer Probably the Old Time Wooden Nickel Company. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's FM-6.
Varieties There is a variety with an Indian Head obverse and the same reverse design, and there is also a Indian Head obverse variety celebrating Christmas 1970.
Function The function of this piece is unknown besides what can be deduced from the piece itself. It could be a souvenir from the Columbus Club. The club may have raised money for charity, and the wooden nickel was given to donors in appreciation. Please e-mail me if you have information about the club or this piece.
Population Count Three specimens in collector hands are known to me. I do not know of any recent sales.

Sacred Heart Chapel in Ancon around 1950
Sacred Heart Chapel in Ancon around 1950
From Dexter Press Post Card No. C 1066