These tokens, according to Mal Mach's machine tokens web page on them (click here), date back to the early 1900s and were used in amusement machines of the period. According to Mal, these Clown tokens were supplied by various makers of Clown machines and, in many cases, carry serial numbers of machines to allow checks when claiming a prize. The serial number proved a token came from the arcade's own machines.
Clown tokens come in various forms (see our secondary picture), but none are not very valuable. An eBay search finds them selling for a few US dollars each. As always in coin collecting, tokens in well preserved and uncirculated condition are worth much more than worn specimens. If you can find an uncirculated token and can also find an avid collector of such items, $50 would not be out of the question. The problem, of course, is to find both!
Assembling a representative collection of these fascinating tokens would be a real challenge. Mals' home page on Machine Tokens shows the breath and depth of the topic. Clown is the name of amusement machines made in Britain, France, Germany and America at various times. Here are some representative companies:
- 1905 under licence to Pessers London (Pessers, Moody, Wraith & Gurr)
- 1912 Max Jentzsch & Meerz. Leipzig, Germany
- 1913 Coin Operating Co. Birmingham, UK (Phoenix Works)
- 1924 The Caille Bros. Co., Detroit, MI, USA
- 1928 Super Automatic Machines Limited, Imperial House, Regent Street, London
CoinQuest thanks Malj1 for use of his token images. He's got quite a collection!