Tacoma, Washington History, Money & Tokens catagory

These photos & images are private property, and may not be copied nor duplicated in any form or part without expressed written permission


Paper money has local history in Tacoma, many different types & purposes arose. The above note is a Trade Interchange Certificate from Tacoma. The circa 1930's notes were issued during the Depression in various denominations, and used to spur trading of products to get the economy moving again.

Another attempt at economy motivation were these Clearing House notes, also made in various denominations. Most were failures as people did not trust them to be backed by anything, so they became useless.

Here is an actual government-issued legal tender note from Tacoma. These date from the Depression era, late 1920's into the 1930's. At the time local banks were allowed to print currency, and this was done across the country, with each bank being assigned a number, the National Bank of Tacoma having the number 3417. A city sometimes had more than one bank that issued currency, and these type of notes are called National Currency Notes, as opposed to Federal Reserve Notes (not shown) which are the only type issued today.

Such an example of a different bank within the same city is seen here. The Puget Sound National Bank of Tacoma was assigned the number 12292.

Seen above and below are a different series of National Notes, but still from Tacoma. There were 3 series of Nationals issued, the first series has each note's serial number by itself, the second series shown here has the Bank's assigned number printed next to the serial number, and a third series (not shown) has a letter designation instead of a number designation for the city it was issued from. Tacoma did not have any third series notes, as the Federal government was starting to reduce the large amount of varieties of notes that were in circulation. The 3rd series were limited to big cities such as Chicago, New York, etc.

Below are a few older notes from the series of 1902, which was a larger size than the current size of notes used today. These series of notes were made just after the turn of the century. Still these were Tacoma Banks issues, just from an earlier time when paper was not an economic factor, and incidently, at a time when men's billfolds were larger size. The size of these older notes across the country changed when the Depression hit the U.S. In 1929, the government decided the reduce the size of currency notes to save on paper & printing costs, the result being the size of notes made today.


Here is a higher denomination series of 1902 Tacoma National note. The higher the note's dollar amount, the rarer they are in the collector's market today.

Here is a metal token from a 1911 presentation that was performed at Stadium High School titled "The Burning of Rome". It was quite a performance to command having a token made for it, most plays & presentations done at Stadium, which was a very popular place for Tacoma attractions, were advertised in the form of paper.

The reverse side of the Burning of Rome token shows that labor unions were powerful & important then.

A common way of advertising downtown businesses were tokens such as the Tivoli Cafe, as opposed to the unusual nature of the Burning Rome token which was made for a perfomance. Businesses would have tokens made in the form of "Good For" amounts, 5 cents, 10 cents, even 12 1/2 cents, with their business name & address as way to get customers to come back, or tell their friends.

Transit tokens are a popular collectible that tells some history. They were used as paid passage from the World War I era on, some even used today for transit systems across the country. Transit systems can be trains, trolleys, and buses. This is one of the larger size tokens, used on buses in the Tacoma School Distrct number 10, circa 1940's.

Tacoma Railway & Power was a World War I era train & trolley transit run by the city. In many cases city-owned entities such as this continually lost money, but were kept going due to the needs of the public which they served.

Here is another version of a transit token from Tacoma, circa 1940's.

A newer transit token from Pierce Transit, which are public buses.

The city of Tacoma, and groups of merchants in areas would often hand out tokens to entice people to visit & shop, this Downtown Tacoma Works token being one of them. Some tokens like this would be valid for free parking.

Here is a recent downtown Tacoma token, circa 1990's. It features some famous buildings in the background.

The City of Tacoma Centennial celebrated 100 years as a city, from 1869 to 1969. This token is a larger size one, and made from heavier materials, giving the impression that it is an important quality piece to be treasured. The centennial was a moment of pride for Tacoma, as reflected in this token.

Not to be confused with the 1869-1969 Tacoma Centennial is this 1884-1984 Tacoma Centennial token, which features the newly-built at that time Tacoma Dome.

Another commemorative is seen here from the 1884-1984 Tacoma Centennial, this one features the Seal of The City of Tacoma which consists of the waterfront wharfs in the foreground, and Mount Rainier in the background. The Tacoma Dome is on the reverse side.

Kaiser Aluminum was a large company in Tacoma, similar to the Asarco Smelter in that it employed people who called this their family for generations, and which met a similar fate as Asarco. The Kaiser Tacoma plant was shut down, and in 2006 the tall smokestack that could be seen for miles across the Tideflats was taken down with explosives.

These are a set of Depression era 1930's stamps, and a Citizens' Emergency Employment Bureau booklet that they came from. They were made in hopes of fighting unemployment in Tacoma, though the way they were meant to be used isn't clear, so when they are found today they are unused. They have not been found on envelopes, only as unused singles.

In the 1920's & 1930's the Post Office sold Pre-cancel stamps such as these across America. This was a way the Post Office could save a little time & ink from the normal cancelling method, since these were already cancelled before they were purchased.

Many of the Pre-cancels were sold in sheets like this one, from Tacoma.






















Copyright 2014, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Funsite