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Iola Kids Get Tokens as Treats for Halloween!
October 25, 2007



What do you give for Trick or Treat?

Growing up in Astoria, NY, and living on the same block for my whole existence there, I was well known by many folks in the neighborhood, even at an early age. Apartment building doors were often opened, and with an older brother, his friends, and five cousins living down the street in an area filled with 6 to 60 family apartment buildings, the Halloween take of trick or treat candy would often be enormous. Coins too!

Since moving to Central Wisconsin, I decided not to give out candy. I have gone out of my way to give out "memorable" items. Sometimes that has been foreign coins - Canadian 5 cent pieces from the 1930s were a specialty one year - to California pinecones (you know the very very large kind), to sea shells - Hey kid, those are skeletons!, ("way coooool Mr. Cuhaj is giving out skeletons" they were heard to shout to their approaching friends.) The pine-cones and sea shells I bought at summer estate sales (the sea-shells amounted to over 35 pounds, for 25 dollars! - The California pinecones were two large garbage bags full, collected by an ex-crafter.)

Co-workers would question me the following Monday to see if the strange thing in their kids bucket came from me, yes, most of the time they did. (But seriously, folks in this town give creative items out, from comic books, to baseball cards)

Since 2003, I have been in town for Halloween for the odd years only. I've given away a cast pewter token as my treat item. It is quarter sized, so the kids think they are getting something expensive, but as they leave and reach into their plastic pumpkin then reality sinks in as they read it. I remember one young fellow who was walking away saying to his mom, wow a quarter, well no…so the mom says, Well what does it say….It says, "Listen to your Parents"…then his mom replied "Well, I guess you got tricked!"

Using 2x2 inch Corian® sample blocks that I bought in quantity on a popular internet auction site, I've gotten them simply engraved at a local trophy shop. The obverse with a pumpkin and the legend: HALLOWEEN, IOLA, WIS., and a simple GC as the eyes. The reverse, I have developed a simple reminder phrase. Pewter can be melted in a Pyrex® container on an electric stove. I just an old table spoon as a ladle, just the right amount in a scoopful to fill the mold.

In 2003, I used "Be Good to Others", in 2005: "Listen to your Parents" and for 2007 they will be getting "Choose Wisely." The tokens are dated on the reverse. I cast about 325 each year. And each year I have been giving that many out!

For ten years some of my co-workers have warned me that my line of cedar trees will get egged or TPd, however, I think that making a simple token, similar to a pocket angel, has been a fun way to share the hobby with the next generation.

Oh, yes, I dress up too, but you'll have to come into town to see that. The date for Iola is Sunday, October 28th from 2-4 in the afternoon. Be there or be square!

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About the Author
George Cuhaj has been with the Krause Publications numismatic team since 1994. He is editor of the various editions of the Standard Catalog of World Coins and the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. Prior to joining KP, Cuhaj was employed by the American Numismatic Society and Stack's Rare Coins, both of New York City. He is a Fellow in both the Royal Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Society. He also is a life member and past board member of the International Bank Note Society. Cuhaj was elected an Allied Professional Member of the National Sculpture Society and has had his medallic work exhibited internationally.

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