Telephone Tokens and in particular those of Zambia
From time to time over the years I have acquired a
of tokens I have known to be telephone tokens. Amongst the most common
of these with dealers are Italian telephone tokens, pieces from Brasil,
France, Israel and Poland are also often encountered. Lots of other
have also used metal coin-like tokens in the past (very few these days
due to the "phonecard"). So for countries such as Hungary, Latvia,
and Sweden I have managed to get a cheap telephone token without too
difficulty. But even with more than ten different countries represented
in my telephone token collection I still had no knowledge of any
telephone tokens. Eventually (around 2001) I found some, perhaps
outdated, info for visitors to Zambia on the internet. This information
. . . "Public call boxes are being adapted to take tokens of 1
and 5 units; only calls within the country can be made from such
Then in late 2002 the internet helped me to find a specialist telephone
token collector who at the time was having a go at finding out info and
examples of South Asian telephone tokens. He was able to confirm to me
the existence of the Zambian telephone tokens and of pieces for a few
The "1 ONE UNITS" token - image from Ciro Marta. (Actual size, 23mm)
About the Zambian telephone tokens he told me that there were three different types. (a) a "1 ONE UNIT" (b) a "1 ONE UNITS" just like the previous type but with a design/typographical error (one of these sold, on eBay, in April 2003, for a quite amazing 260 U.S. Dollars - these always make a very good price) and (c) a "5 FIVE UNITS". The "1 UNITS" and the "5 UNITS" are shown above. All three types have similar designs, all have a common obverse that includes the legends "ZAMBIA PTC PHONE TOKEN" and "IT'S YOU WE SERVE", all have "NOT LEGAL TENDER" on the reverse along with the relevant denomination related legends.
Using an internet search engine with the phrase "Zambia
PTC" I found a little info on this company on the page http://www.uneca.org/aisi/nici/zambia/zambinfra.htm
. This page is on the site of the United Nations' Economic Commission
Africa and gives particulars of Zambia's telecommunication
This subject is introduced with a little historical information. From
information I learnt that "PTC" stands for "Posts and
Corporation" and Zambia PTC existed until the end of June 1994.
July 1st 1994 the two activities of post and telecommunications were
between two new companies, with telecommunications coming under Zambia
Telecommunications Company Limited. Zamtel, as it is known, was said to
be in the process of installing 400 token-operated payphones and 150
card phones across the Zambia, with equipment being supplied by a
company. The information on this UNECA page was apparently written
around 10 years ago, for something more upto date I found Zamtel's main
[dead link]. This this site included mention of Zamtel's services at
that time which were said to include public pay-phones that use "pre-paid
So a new series of telephone tokens perhaps exists for Zambia. However
as at early 2012 I have still to see any image of any new Zambian
telephone tokens. Finally one important point - Zambia does not use
coins so anything working a coin/token slot has to be a token in Zambia.
A medallic piece for Zambia's Tenth Anniversary
The piece can be described as:-
Obverse:- right facing portrait of Kenneth Kaunda with “ZAMBIA TENTH ANNIVERSARY” above-around and “OCTOBER 24TH 1974” between two dot spacers below-around
Reverse:- Zambia’s Coat of arms with bearers depicted including motto “ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION” on the ribbon and dates “1964 – 1974” below with “TIYENDE PA MODZI NDI MTIMA UMO” above-around and “ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION” below-around.
Appearance:- Copper (or perhaps Copper plated), round with small suspension loop at top, with a plain edge.
Kenneth Kaunda became President of Zambia on 24 October 1964, the date upon which Zambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. He was still the president in 1974, and was to remain so until 2 November 1991.
“TIYENDE PA MODZI NDI MTIMA UMO” is the first line of an important song of national unity for Zambia, from around the time of independence. This line in Nyanja (one of the country’s more widely used languages) can be translated as “Let’s go together in harmony”. President Kaunda popularised this song.
There is more information about the song at…
There was also a commemorative coin issued by Zambia for this anniversary in 1974. It is a one Kwacha and these days it is a difficult type to find. The coins and the medallic piece that is shown here have a number of design elements in common, although the coin does not include any of the words from the song. I imagine there could be some other medallic pieces for 1974 for this anniversary.
Zambia Coins Page
Back to AFRICA TOKENS page.
New page at March 2003, slight update (260 USD price realised) April
2003. All page content (Telephone Tokens) revised at May-2013.
Added "A medallic piece for Zambia’s Tenth Anniversary" at May 2013.