Encased Coins Dot Info


Celluloid Encased

Union Made Beer Celluloid Encased
Union Made Beer encased Celluloid Indian Head cent - Keep Me and Never Go Broke slogan

Union Made Beer Celluloid Encased



Celluloid Encased

Encased coins are thought to first have made in 1901 for the Pan-American Exposition. Originally aluminum was used as the outer ring to encase a 1-cent piece. Aluminum is thought to be used due to it being relatively inexpensive and easy to press with advertising slogans. The majority of encased coins have a slogan similar to Keep Me and Never Go Broke or Keep Me and Have Good Luck. There are variations of this theme, but the thought was that people would keep the encased coin as a pocket piece and thereby keep the business name and information top of mind. At the Pan-American Exposition, several kinds of encased coins were sold as souvenirs, including round, horseshoe shaped, frying pan shaped and round vulcanite encased. Vulcanite is a plastic material made by mixing rubber and sulfur. It was invented and patented by Charles Goodyear in 1846.

Sometime after the Pan-Am Expo another type of encased cent was introduced. The encasement was made of celluloid. Celluloid is a plastic compound created in the 1850's, using nitro cellulose and camphor. Nitro cellulose is a flammable compound and camphor a white crystalline powder which emits flammable fumes. It was the first synthetic plastic ever used. Dyes and other agents were added for color and stability. The material is easily molded and shaped and was widely used as an ivory substitute. It was mainly used in the motion picture industry and commercial photography. Celluloid as a film medium was first thought to be have been used by Thomas Edison in his early motion picture experiments. It is highly flammable and was replaced by acetate in the 1950's for film.


Image of Ramos Gin Fizz advertising celuloid button

The piece above advertising Ramos Gin Fizz / Gin Phizz. The colors and smooth surface plus the ability to print the slogans made this a step up from the aluminum encased. This particular piece is advertising a popular New Orleans drink. The drink was first served at Henry Ramos' Imperial Cabinet Saloon in 1888. It is a frothy gin drink still made today. The Ramos piece is 28 mm in diameter and, as can be seen from the image, the coin side has no room for any additional inscriptions.

I style these as "button" encased because the rounded top of the encasement is very button like. While smaller that political buttons, they are very similar to political advertising buttons of the same period. I have two other "button" encased from the same manufacturer. The Ramos piece has a 1942 wheat cent; the J.C. Wineman & Co., a 1904 Indian; and the Knickerbocker Jewelry Co., a 1902 Indian. The only thing I can be sure of on a manufacturing time line is that the Ramos piece was made in or after 1942. Note that the design is identical on all three pieces with the text in the shield area. The design includes a wishbone, rabbits foot, horseshoe, and a four leaf clover. All of which are symbols of good luck, which is also included on the piece. The J.C. Wineman & Co is from Washington D.C and was a tailor. (Footnote: As Listed in Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia - click on link for more information)

J.C. Wineman & Co., 914 F St., N.W. (Washington D.C.?)
Knickerbocker Jewwlry Co., 6th Ave. & 16th St., New York - Celluloid encased image showing both sides of piece with a 1902 Indian Cent

Above are two additional BB & N Co. /Balto. MD. encased celluloid cents.

Close up of BB & N Co. /Balto. MD.


The "Ramos" piece has "Mfg. By B.B. & N. Co./ Balto., MD" on the edge of the celluloid, as do the other two. this is the Baltimore Badge & Novelty Co. - I have one additional piece of the same size (22 mm) but with entirely different printing, It says, "Land of Lincoln ' BALBO / Makes Cents" and has a 1964-D cent.

Political advertising encased cent - Land of Lincoln - Balbo - Makes Cents

A "Google" search turned up nothing on the candidate although it must have been an Illinois political office.

Whitehead & Hoag

Image of Chester Hoag and Benjamin Whitehead

Whitehead & Hoag Chester Hoag, left, (1860-1935) and Benjamin Whitehead (1858-1940) formed Whitehead & Hoag in 1892.

Benjamin Whitehead was a printer, printing programs for local picnics and parties. He also printed badges on silk. He and Chester Hoag had a business relationship, which became a friendship and then a partnership that was incorporated in 1892. It was soon to become the country's largest manufacturer of advertising novelties. The company acquired three major button patents prior to its immediate step into button creation in 1896. A patent, filed Dec. 6, 1895, established the reverse design of celluloid buttons. Issued as a "jewelry" patent to George B. Adams, assignor to W&H, it specified a shell with a marginal rim to form a chamber and contain a continuous piece of wire with both a holding portion and a free end lying in the same plane. - (footnote: www.tedhake.com/viewuserdefinedpage.aspx?pn=whco).

Whitehead & Hoag were making ribbon badges and celluloid parts when the "button" was patented. Their idea swept the country. Buttons were used as advertising buttons and political campaign buttons. Their first big order went to the American Tobacco Co., at the rate of 1 million a day.

How many of the encased buttons were made? No one knows. They are very like encased mirrors as the print side is smooth. Encased mirrors have the coin embedded in the print side and have an inexpensive polished steel plate for a mirror.



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