Copy of post sent to SCA-East today (long):
To the autocrats of events in the East Kingdom:
Bear with me. This is going to be long but it seems to be necessary to get
this information out in as complete detail and widely as possible, in the
hopes that will avoid future problems, and, yes, to bypass the current
methods of intervention and their inaccuracy.
It has come to my attention that the East Kingdom seneschal is refering
people to me, as autocrat of the "Twa Corbies Tavern" event in Carolingia
this past March, as a reference for how & why to avoid using metal tokens.
This is more than a little awkward. This is like giving the name of a
person you've sexually abused to someone else as a reference for how good
you are in bed. (Yes, that is a delibrately chosen metaphor. No, I will
not retract it or apologize for it. Yes, I am still livid at the way it
was handled, both at the kingdom and at the baronial level.)
However, since then I've done my own research and concluded that,
unfortunately, the ruling is correct, even if the reasons quoted (and
still being quoted) are badly chosen, including misapprehension of which
US laws are most appropriate and of what were the past problems within the
The problem in the SCA was from a person who'd attempted to have his
"coinage" accepted throughout his region, at multiple events and by
merchants, and not from the use of tokens at a single event. That the
regulation making it into Corpora could be read more broadly, is, sad to
say, not an unusual escalation.
The law most often referenced has been the one on "Counterfeiting and
Forgery: Tokens or paper used as money" (18 USC Sec. 491):
"Whoever, being 18 years of age or over, not lawfully authorized, makes,
issues, or passes any coin, card, token, or device in metal, or its
compounds, intended to be used as money, or whoever, being 18 years of age
or over, with intent to defraud, makes, utters, inserts, or uses any card,
token, slug, disk, device, paper, or other thing similar in size and shape
to any of the lawful coins or other currency of the United States or any
coin or other currency not legal tender in the United States, to procure
anything of value, or the use or enjoyment of any property or service from
any automatic merchandise vending machine, postage-stamp machine,
turnstile, fare box, coinbox telephone, parking meter or other lawful
receptacle, depository, or contrivance designed to receive or to be
operated by lawful coins or other currency of the United States, shall be
fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both..."
This has rarely been quoted in full. When it is, the focus is on fake
coins that could either (1) be mistaken for real ones, or (2) be used in
automatic vending machines or similar. This is not our problem.
The regulation that does seriously affect us is this one:
"Use of Metal Tokens: Final Statement of Policy
Volume 50 Federal Register 28679-81 (July, 15, 1985)
Agency: United States Mint, Treasury
Action: Final Statement of Treasury Policy Regarding the Use of Metal Tokens"
"SUMMARY: The United States Mint, Department of Treasury announces its
final statement of policy regarding the use of metal tokens. The Mint has
historically been opposed to the production and use of metal tokens
because of its concern that widespread use of tokens would lead to their
circulation in the community as coinage in violation of the criminal code.
Exceptions to this opposition have been granted by the Mint for the use of
tokens by gambling casinos on a case- by-case basis.
"The Department does not oppose the production or use of tokens which meet
the following conditions:
1. Tokens should be clearly identified with the name and location of the
establishment from they originate on at least one side. Alternatively,
tokens should contain an identifying mark or logo which clearly indicates
the identity of the manufacturer.
2. Tokens should not be within the following diameter ranges (inches):
3. Tokens shall not be manufactured from a three layered material
consisting of a copper nickel alloy clad on both sides of a pure core, nor
from a copper based material except if the total of zinc, nickel,
aluminum, magnesium, and other alloying materials is at least 20 percent
of the token's weight. In addition, tokens shall not be manufactured from
material which possesses sufficient magnetic properties so as to be
accepted by a coin mechanism.
4. Establishments using these tokens shall prominently and conspicuously
post signs on their premises notifying patrons that federal law prohibits
the use of such tokens outside the premises for any monetary purpose
5. The issuing establishments shall not accept tokens as payment for any
goods or services offered by such establishment with the exception of the
specific use for which the tokens were designed.
6. The design on the token shall not resemble any current or past foreign
or U.S. coinage."
This is what makes it a problem to use metal tokens. In the past, events
have used old foreign coins, but this is specifically prohibited, even
ones with no current value. Casino tokens themselves looked possible, but
the "specific use" clause might come into effect and that they are not to
be used as money "outside the premises" of the issuing establishment.
If other people can find loopholes, I'd welcome it (for background, this
is a good site to start: http://www.idxinc.com/crossplay.htm ).
- Carol Hanson
SCA: Caryl de Trecesson
I have already been told I should apologize for daring to compare the screwing I got to sexual assault.
What I will apologize for is that I called it a metaphor, when of course it was a simile.
1) This is in regard to the use of metal tokens as currency during an event, not on their use as site tokens or for any commemorative use or similar. It's only about when they're used as if they had monetary value.
2) SCA Corpora:
"XI. POLICY ON COINAGE AND CURRENCY
While the SCA, Inc. supports and encourages the study of period numismatics, it is not the policy of the SCA, Inc. to endorse or require the acceptance of privately minted coinage or other tokens at SCA-sanctioned events. The SCA, Inc. or its branches shall not require the acceptance of privately minted coinage or other tokens as payment for any goods or services at any SCA-sanctioned events. Any such transactions may be conducted at the discretion of the individuals involved, as with any other barter transaction. In such cases, compliance with applicable tax laws is the responsibility of the individuals."
So the SCA Corpora forbids the -exclusive- use of tokens at SCA events. As long as you allow people to use regular currency as another option at your event, then it seems metal tokens would be okay by SCA laws themselves. (We thought of invoking this interpretation for the Twa Corbies Tavern, but the lack of time precluded further argument.) It's the US laws that would seem to forbid metal tokens as currency even if not exclusive use.
3) It was a simile, not a metaphor. And I am sorry that unintended people were hurt by its use, regardless of it saying what I intended to say.
- Carol Hanson
SCA: Caryl de Trecesson