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Two kinds of coin board exist.
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The first kind, also known as a merchandise board, is a variation on pull-tab games. A game board of this type typically comes with a registered package of pull-tab tickets, a signers card, and a pay-out slip.
When a ticket is sold, the player opens the ticket to reveal its hidden numbers. If a number on the ticket matches a number on the game board, the player wins a prize and/or a chance at one or more seal prizes, which are revealed at the end of the game.
The game board displays the winning numbers along with the prizes. Some of the winners receive instant cash only, while some of the winning numbers match numbers on coins, wallets, or small panels that are built into the board. When a player opens a ticket containing one of these numbers, the game manager removes the coin or panel and gives it to the player. When the coin or panel is removed, a prize is revealed that may consist of instant cash, merchandise, and/or a chance at a seal prize. Instant cash or merchandise winnings are given to the player immediately by the manager.
If a player wins a chance at a seal prize, that player's name is added to the signers card. When the game ends—all the tickets sell out, or all the prizes are won—the manager opens the seals on the game board (or, in some versions, scratches off an opaque substance) to reveal the winning numbers. The players whose names appear next to the winning numbers on the signers card win a seal prize. The seal prizes are usually the most valuable prizes.
United States collector coins are embedded in most coin boards sold in the US. Sometimes they are visible, and sometimes they are hidden behind panels. Coin boards contain only coin and cash prizes. Merchandise boards also contain coins, but some or all of the prizes consist of merchandise rather than cash.
The pay-out slip that is typically provided with each board lists the number of winners and values of all prizes. This information may be used for accounting purposes and to verify that the game complies with local gaming regulations.
Coin collecting board
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The second kind of coin board, also known as a coin collecting board, is intended for coin collectors to assemble a complete set of dates and mints for a particular coin series. It consists of a strip of cardboard, typically measuring 11 inches wide by 14 inches tall, with holes punched into it the size of the particular coins. A face paper having the same hole pattern carries the appropriate text and graphics. This typically consists of dates and mintmarks printed beneath each opening, sometimes with the addition of the number of pieces coined for that issue. A bold title for the coin series will appear at the top of the board, and the bottom of the face will have publication and copyright information. On some coin boards the bottom of the face will also provide some historical and technical information about the coin series, as well as misguided instructions for cleaning coins. On the most common coin boards, those published by Whitman, this information was later moved to the back of the board, and this is more typical for other publishers, too.
The coin collecting board was invented in 1934 by Joseph Kent Post, an engineer with Kimberly-Clark in Neenah, Wisconsin. His knowledge of paper products and their manufacture, combined with his interest in coin collecting, prompted him to devise this inexpensive means to collect coins. Debuting early in 1935, his first coin boards—one for Indian Head nickels and another for Lincoln cents—were priced at 25 cents retail, and these quickly proved successful. Sold at newsstands, stationery stores, variety stores, and similar retail outlets, coin boards were the point of entry for thousands of new coin collectors between 1935 and 1942, after which most publishers discontinued them in favor of the more convenient coin folders still used today.
Post marketed his coin boards under the Kent Co. Coin Card brand. Later in 1935, Post sold his invention to Whitman Publishing of Racine, Wisconsin, which was already a leading producer of puzzles, games and other paper novelties. Whitman became the most prolific of coin board producers and had the most extensive list of coin series titles.
Other publishers of coin boards included Colonial Coin & Stamp Company and Gramercy Stamp Company, both located in New York City, J. Oberwise & Company and Lincoln Printing Company, both located in Los Angeles, California, and Earl & Koehler of Portland, Oregon. Whitman and Oberwise boards are seen with some frequency, but the other companies' boards are fairly scarce, those of Gramercy and E & K being genuinely rare. Coin collecting boards have been retired from their original usage for the most part, and all are now considered quite collectable. Their collector value varies with their relative rarity and condition.
- Lange, David W. (2007). Coin Collecting Boards of the 1930s & 1940s. Lakewood Ranch, FL: Pennyboard Press.