Author Topic: Former Mystery Token from Liberia  (Read 1294 times)

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Offline Afrasi

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Former Mystery Token from Liberia
« on: February 16, 2014, 12:16:06 PM »
The following token did not reveal much at first: just "533" and "PAA"



The token

stamped on a Liberian 2 cent coin from 1941.



The host coin

My first guess was a tool check for Pan American Airlines. But why on an African coin? I did not find any connections between PAA and Liberia, and also a tool check of this company should look better. Just as I was ready to ditch this idea, I found an article about the founding of PAA-Africa Ltd.

Now we are in Liberia, January 1943. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the USA, visits Monrovia, while around Stalingrad the war is at its cruellest.



An enlarged stamp showing Roosevelt in a jeep reviewing the troops

Roosevelt's health is not good (too much alcohol) and his doctors advised against this trip. Two years later he will be dead!



A first day cover commemorating the death of Roosevelt in 1945

Why this trip?

Two reasons: Since the Japanese control most of South East Asia, there is a huge lack of rubber, which is much needed for the war effort. Also there are the German submarines, which prevent supplies reaching not only northern Europe but also the Mediterranean.

Liberia can offer large latex plantations for the Firestone Plantation Company and it is near the Brazilian coast. Aeroplanes could fly down the east coast of the US, through the Caribbean to Natal in Brazil, and then cross the Atlantic - if only there were an airport safe from German attacks.



A stamp showing the route

Roosevelt convinced the Liberian government of his plan, helped by lots of small green pieces of paper. Liberia declared war on Germany and all Germans - who owned nearly all the economy and the whole health system - were sent away. Near Monrovia the military airport Roberts Field was built



An aeroplane landing at the just built airport

and PAA-Africa Ltd (nominally a civil company, but with exclusively military aims) was founded. This token was probably used there as a tool check or security badge.

The indigenous population called this place "Smell, no Taste", as you could smell the American troops' food but could never get hold of any to taste.

As a result, the supplies for the Allies in North Africa started again and Axis forces faced yet another new front.



A block of stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of Roberts Field, showing the airport and American aeroplanes in the 1940s.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2014, 05:10:56 PM by FosseWay »