Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, June 9, 1996, pg. 5

During the Great Depression, certain workers at the Albion Malleable Iron Company would receive aluminum tokens (which they called “chips”) as evidence of their piece-rate which would determine their wages for the day. These tokens were used by the “bowl pushers,” who collected the hot molten iron from the furnace in large bowls, and by the “pourers,” who received the molten iron in their individual ladles and poured it into the sand molds to make a casting.

One bowl (similar to a large bucket with a spout) would contain enough molten iron to fill three ladles. Each time a worker filled his bucket from the furnace, he would be given a token that was worth 3˘. For every ladle that the pourers poured into the molds, they received a token worth 2˘. Take a look at the Molder Statue in the park in downtown Albion. The pose exactly describes what was occurring.

A person was chosen to hand out the “chips” each day, which were received from the company office. They were turned in each day by each worker who was paid according to how many tokens they had acquired. Not all workers, however used this system. Others were on a piece-rate system, such as the molders, whose work was recorded on paper by the foreman. This system lasted until the late 1930s, when the long process of automation began and the molten iron came in buckets on conveyer belt along with the sand molds.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of a set of these Albion Malleable “chips” in my Albion numismatic collection. They measure 27 mm. in diameter. The first two tokens are well worn, and contain the name of the firm of the obverse. The one with the escalloped edges has a value of 2˘ on the back, while the round one has a well-worn value of 3˘.

The next two chips contain the company’s logo, the letter “A” with a circle around it. On the back of one is the large numeral “l,” but the other spells it out as “ONE BOWL.” How many people still living remember these chips? These are interesting momentoes of this era in the life of this longtime Albion industry, and of those who worked there. I am always looking for tokens and medals issued by Albion merchants and firms for my Albion collection. These usually bear values of “Good for 5˘ in Trade.”

Albion Malleable “chips”

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