A Telephone Token (from the time of the Somali Democratic Republic).
A Somalian “WBI” Telephone Token with date code “7701”, scale 150dpi. (Image thanks to Graziano Piovesan, Italy)
If you think this pieces looks a little familar then you are right. It is rather similar to the Italian telephone tokens issued from approximately 1959 to 1980. The main difference being that this piece, attributable to Somalia, has just “WBI” instead of “GETTONE” / “TELEFONICO” (meaning “telephone token”) as seen on the Italian pieces.
The Italian tokens are quite common as far as telphone tokens are concerned, this is mainly due to their widespread use and long period of issue. The pages at Gettone Telefonico (part of Forrest's Token Page ) detail the date and mintmark combinations that exist for the Italian series.
The Somalia piece illustrated has date code “7701” (January 1977) and mintmark “IPM”. The only other combination for this the one and only Somalian type to be listed in "Catalog of Telephone and Telegraph Tokens", by H. A. Groenendijk, January 1989, is “7807” with “IPM”. According to the pages on Forrest’s site, the maker that used the “IPM” mintmark was a company by the name of “Industria Politecnica Meridionale” and they made the Italian pieces from approximately 1971 to 1980.
But one thing about these Somalian telephone tokens remains a mystery to me - I just cannot find out what the “WBI” means. It would seem that even the telephone token collectors in Italy don’t know the answer to this.
Somalia Coins Page
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This page new at August 2005.