US and Canadian ration tokens

Started by gpimper, September 16, 2020, 08:10:22 PM

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gpimper

I don't have many but I'll start with a WWII 1944-1945 OPA Blue HY toked.  The Office of Price Administration used OPA stamps, coins, and chits for rationing.  Items that were rationed include canned goods, meats, sugar, coffee, tires, gas and more.  OPA tokens were used for rationing during World War II.  OPA tokens were used by retailers to give change back for food bought with ration stamps.  The Red tokens were for meat and such while the blues were for processed food stuffs.  Obv and Rev are the same.
The Chief...aka Greg

FosseWay

I have a red one. Something that has puzzled me ever since I saw them the first time is the small letters either side of the 1. They vary, apparently randomly. Do you know what they're for? At first I thought mine came from Vermont but then I saw others (including yours) that have letters that don't match states, so that was clearly wrong.

gpimper

FosseWay, I found this but it's not overly definitive  :-)   https://bobstokens.com/the-history-of-opa-tokens/  (nice token, OBTW)
The Chief...aka Greg

FosseWay

Thanks! So no-one's much the wiser then  :)

brandm24

I found this link that at least lists all the letter combinations known on thhese tokens. Apparently, the reason for including them is higghly classified. ;D

Bruce
https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/104233-opa-rationing-token-information/
Always Faithful

Figleaf

If you look at the letters in isolation, rather than as combinations, only a few letters were used. Assuming the X stands for other, miscellaneous or unknown and C for central and knowing that C is not hard to find and occurs in many combinations, I would guess the C is the normal case and the other letters are special. U may be a normal case also, but I can't think of what it may stand for.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

malj1

Some info that is saved on my PC.

•   OPA stands for Office of Price Administration
•   Rationing was first started in 1942. Items that were rationed include canned goods, meats, sugar, coffee, tires, gas and more.
•   The Office of Price Administration used OPA stamps, coins and chits for rationing.
•   OPA coins (commonly called OPAs) were used for change for food.
•   OPAs were used by retailers to give change back for food bought with ration stamps.
•   Blue tokens were used for processed foods; red tokens for meats and fats.
•   OPAs were first issued in 1944
•   Stopped being issued in 1945
•   Nobody has found a true reason for the letters on the OPA's. Theories include, they are random; demographics; and prevention of counterfeiting.
•   Red letter combinations known. HC, HT, MV, MM, TH, TY, UC, UH, UT, UV, UX, UY, VC, VH, VT, VU, VX, VY, XC, XH, XT, XU, XV, XY, YC, YH, YT, YU, YV, YX.
•   Blue letter combinations known. CC, CH, CT, CV, CX, HH, HU, HV, HX, HY, TC, TT, TU, TV, TX, UU, VV, WC, WH, WT, WU, WW, XX, YY
•   The rarest is the red MV. The next rarest are the red MM and the blue WW, WC, WH. Then blue WU, HX and red YC, XC. The rest are fairly easy to find. Reds are a lot more common than blues.
•   Error OPAs are worth a little more. There is a good example at the end of this page.
•   Tokens used for rationing during World War II
•   There are 30 different red tokens and 24 blue ones.
•   They are all vulcanised fibre (celluloid) and 16mm in size.
•   Blue ones read: OPA Blue Point 1 (with two different letters)
•   Red ones read: OPA Red Point 1 (with two different letters)
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

brandm24

I was joking in post #4 when I said the codes might be classified. Apparently, that may actually be the truth. I came across that information while searching for the answer to the letter's meaning. I don't recall the source but it was a professional and highly credible siite so is likely true. If so, why would they still be classified after 75 years. Well, we all know that governments love secrets so...

Bruce
Always Faithful

gpimper

Pretty nice OPA...UC red token.
The Chief...aka Greg

brandm24

I never did find the meaning of the letter combinations on the tokens, but I did come across the manufacturer. They were all made by the Osbourne Register Co. of Cincinnati.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

The contract with Osbourne must have contained a clause on the letters. Why not make a FOIA request for the information? Surely, any kind of classification is by now void.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

eurocoin

This is certainly an interesting topic and it is strange that after so many years still no-one knows the meaning of these letters.

A FOIA request is an excellent idea but why not first try to ask Osborne Coinage directly? I remember this post that they last year published on their Facebook page about the history of these pieces. It appears that there certainly is still some knowledge at the company about the products they made in the past so maybe they are also able to provide information about the letters. I include a screenshot below for those not wanting to use Facebook.


gpimper

Nice OPA TX (Texas? ;-) and a VV.  Not overly rare but they are in very nice condition.
The Chief...aka Greg

brandm24

Quote from: gpimper on October 01, 2020, 09:52:31 PM
Nice OPA TX (Texas? ;-) and a VV.  Not overly rare but they are in very nice condition.
Apparently, the codes don't stand for states because the known codes don't all match up to individual states. We're still all trying to figure out their meaning. I read in a few places that the codes were classified but no one seems to know what they mean.

Bruce
Always Faithful

gpimper

#14
I just spoke with Osborne Coinage.  I was told that the letters are just random...not sure if I believe 'em (I got the impression they had no clue :-)  Most classifications are only good for at most 50 years.  Depending on the classification they are either downgraded or released.  The mystery goes on!  (Unless they really have no clue or they haven't been read in :-)
The Chief...aka Greg