Telephone Tokens

Government of Libya Telephone Token
A Government of Libya telephone token (Image thanks to Ciro Marta)

    This is one of the two telephone tokens listed in "Catalog of Telephone and Telegraph Tokens", by H. A. Groenendijk, January 1989. In that book this piece is listed as “Libya-1”. The legend on the piece is in Italian and reads “GOVERNO DELLA LIBIA” / “GETTONE PER TELEFONO” which translates roughly as “Government of Libya, Token For Telephone”.

    The country we know these days as Libya was a colony of Italy from 1911 until 1943. The region has, through the ages, been under the control of various foreign powers. In 1911 it became the Italian province of “Tripolitania”. The Italians changed the name to “Libya” (or in Italian, “Libia”) in 1934. Allied Forces took over the region in 1943. The dates of these changes and events date the token shown to somewhere between 1934 and 1943. Amongst the first Italian telephone tokens were those dated 1927 and issued by STIPEL (Società Telefonica Interregionale Piemontese E Lombarda). It would seem unlikely that an Italian colony would have telephone tokens before that time. One other piece (“Libya-2”) is listed under Libya in "Catalog of Telephone and Telegraph Tokens". That type is similar to “Libya-1” illustrated here, but has the legends “GOVERNO DELLA TRIPOLITANIA” / “GETTONE PER TELEFONO”. So this type can be dated to a period around 1927 to 1934, more likely these tokens were issued in the early 1930’s. According to "Catalog of Telephone and Telegraph Tokens", these two telephone tokens types are made from Brass, are round and have a diameter of 24mm.

    Knowing this it seems safe to assume that both types would work in the same public telephones in Libya. In fact a section in the introduction of “Elenco Ufficiale Abbonati al Telefono di Tripoli 1940” (a title which translates as “Official Directory of Telephone Subscriber of Tripoli 1940”) details tokens as one of the payment methods available for public telephones. So we can be sure that the use of these tokens continued into the 1940’s.

Libya Coins Page

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This page started with "Telephone Token" at July 2008.