American Vecturist Association

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American Vecturist Association - tokens

The official seal of the American Vecturist Association

The American Vecturist Association (or AVA) is an organization of transportation token collectors in the United States and Canada, as well as worldwide. Members of the AVA receive the Fare Box, the monthly newsletter of the AVA. The Fare Box contains advertisements, stories, and information about various tokens, as well as resources to buy, sell, and trade tokens. AVA members are also eligible to join the New Issue Service, which mails new transportation tokens to its members for a nominal fee.


In 1920, Mr. F.C. Kenworthy began cataloging his transportation token collection. Five years later, Mr. Kenworthy handed his work off to Mr. R.W. Dunn. In 1932 Mr. Dunn printed his list of U.S. and foreign transportation tokens. Shortly after printing, Dr. Dunn passed the task of cataloging transportation tokens off to Ronald C. Atwood. In 1948, Mr. Atwood had his National Check and Premium List of All U.S. Transportation Tokens published by the American Numismatic Company of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Mr. R.L. Moore began publishing the Fare Box, a monthly newsletter about transportation tokens. On October 31, 1948, the American Vecturist Association was formed in New York City out of interest sparked from Mr. Moore’s newsletter. Two months later, Mr. Moore turned over the Fare Box to the newly formed American Vecturist Association. John M. Coffee Jr. (died 2012), a history professor at Emerson College in Boston and Unitarian minister, was the Editor of the Fare Box for 60 years.[4][5]

John Coffee Interview

John Coffee shares the beginnings of the American Vecturist Association. John was interviewed by Bob Schneider in March 2011. View the video interview below.


The AVA holds its annual convention in a different U.S. city every August. At the convention, members are able to buy, sell and trade tokens as well as attend the auction and banquet. For information regarding past and upcoming conventions click here.


The AVA publishes a number of books, all of which are available at discount prices to AVA members:

  • Volume I – The Atwood-Coffee Catalogue of United States and Canadian Transportation Tokens, The Listing: (2007; 940 pages, hardbound or loose-leaf): 6th Edition. Complete listing of all known U.S. and Canadian transportation tokens, with collector values.
  • Volume II – The Atwood-Coffee Catalogue of United States and Canadian Transportation Tokens: History and Encyclopedia of Transportation Tokens: (1984; 776 pages, hardbound): 4th Edition. Compendium of stories and articles about transportation tokens with thousands of photos, quantities struck, dates of usage, rates of fare, etc.
  • Volume III – The Atwood-Coffee Catalogue of United States and Canadian Transportation Tokens: The Die Variety Encyclopedia (1986; 946 pages, hardbound): Lists minor die varieties of U.S. and Canadian transportation tokens, with thousands of enlarged, high quality photos.
  • Car Wash tokens of North America, 2nd edition (2001; 330 pages)
  • Land Company and Real Estate Tokens (110 pages, hardbound)

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In numismatics, token coins or trade tokens are coin-like objects used instead of coins. The field of token coins is part of exonumia and token coins are token money. Tokens have a denomination either shown or implied by size, color or shape. “Tokens” are often made of cheaper metals: copper, pewter, aluminum, brass and tin were commonly used, while bakelite, leather, porcelain, and other less durable materials are also known.

A key point of difference between a token coin and a legal tender coin is that the latter is issued by a governmental authority and is freely exchangeable for goods. However, a token coin typically has a much more limited use and is often issued by a private company, group, association or individual. In the case of “currency tokens” issued by a company but also recognized by the state there is a convergence between tokens and currency.

Streetcar number 1752 became the first subway car to be driven in regular traffic in the Boston subway system in 1897. This also marks the beginning of subway traffic in the United States.
Boston has the oldest subway tunnel in the United States that is still in use, part of the MBTA’s Green Line downtown, dating from 1897. The original construction was a short four-track tunnel, with only two stations downtown, originally built to take streetcars from outlying areas off the streets in the most congested area. From 1901 to 1908, heavy rail trains temporarily shared the tunnel as part of the original configuration of the Main Line Elevated, the first elevated railway in Boston. Later subway lines built in Boston carry heavy rail trains; the Green Line still operates with light rail equipment.

Transit tokens in the United States date to 1831, when brass coins were minted for John Gibbs’s U.S.M. stage in New Jersey. Horsecar tokens were issued more widely in the 1830s, as were tokens for horse-drawn omnibuses. By 1897, the U.S. had its first subway in Boston, and in 1904 the New York subway system was inaugurated. Tokens were also produced for ferries, buses, and streetcars, often out of cheap white metal, aluminum, or more costly bronze. One characteristic of many, but certainly not all, transit tokens is that they often feature cutouts, sometimes in the shapes of letters, to differentiate them at a glance from other coins.