What is this mystery code token?
September 16, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Mystery token! What is it's use? What is it made of? When was it made? What do the numbers mean? What do the letters mean? What does the grid mean? What does the dial mean? What is the significance of AM? What does W. & H. CO. mean?

Grid side
Dial side
Close-up of maker's mark

It's 1 5/8" (4.1 cm) in diameter, and about 1/16" (16 mm) thick.

I've kind of figured that you use the dial side to somehow figure out what number you should use. Then you flip it over and match the number with the current day of the week, to get the final output of a letter from A to G. I also think that "W. & H. Co." stands for Whitehead and Hoag Company, a New Jersey-based (?) memorabilia company from the earlier part of the 20th century that sometimes made tokens. Aside from that, I'm stumped.
posted by clorox to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Does this page give some clues? The times line up...
posted by southern_sky at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The letters (BEADGCF) are the order that flats appear in the circle of fifths. I can't figure out what this has to do with the rest of it, though.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 7:06 PM on September 16, 2012

That is a good start. Given that, it looks to me like some sort of devotional schedule. Like, on Monday, during Venus's vital hour, say prayer "E."
posted by etc. at 7:06 PM on September 16, 2012

I mean southern_sky has a good start.
posted by etc. at 7:07 PM on September 16, 2012

AM is probably midnight, the times are 1/7 x 24 hours

The letters are ABCDEFG, written vertically. Starts at Friday, then moves back 2 days (or 5 days forward) and starts at BCD ... A, then another 2 days backward and starts at C on Monday, etc., until a full cycle is completed.
posted by carter at 7:09 PM on September 16, 2012

Where the hell did you get this thing? Could how you acquired it provide any context?
posted by trip and a half at 7:11 PM on September 16, 2012

Hmm, it's possible it might be for calculating astrological (planetary?) values or influences for different times of various days of the week.

This would be useful for anyone using this system of astrology at those particular times.
posted by carter at 7:16 PM on September 16, 2012

You could try asking the coin buffs over at coin community.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:17 PM on September 16, 2012

Also if you look at the second list of planets in southern_sky's link, this also translates into days that are two days apart, only going forward - Mon-Weds-Fri-Sun-Tue-Thur-Sat.

So this might give the 'product' of the two times discussed in southern_sky's link:

In this way every person is under the influence of two major planets. One planetdetermines the planetary constitution by the day of birth and the second planetis determined by the time of birth. The second planet is called the vital hourplanet. Both day of birth and time of birth are essential for astrologicalwork.

That is, day is along the X axis, time of day is on the Y axis, the intersection gives the birth planetary influence (A-G).
posted by carter at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2012

I can't give a definitive answer, but could it be a hymnal/choral aide? A numismatic cheat sheet for singing hymns in certain keys for different days?
posted by Sphinx at 7:35 PM on September 16, 2012

it looks to me like some sort of devotional schedule

The times of canonical hours don't match up with the times on the coin. It could have some other religious significance, though.
posted by booksherpa at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2012

A Gregorian liturgy of the hours, maybe? (Yeah, I know, the hours don't match.) From your Flickr tags, I see it bears the maker's mark of Whitehead and Hoag Co., who made stuff for fraternal organizations as well as religious medals - maybe it's something for the Knights of Columbus?
posted by gingerest at 8:14 PM on September 16, 2012

The end of this post seems to have some clues (and is also in Portuguese, thank you Google translations!) A Google search for 'cycles life GCFBEAD' turns up some Rosicrucian stuff. Maybe it's a Freemason thing?
posted by booksherpa at 8:20 PM on September 16, 2012

Found it! Thanks to booksherpa's links.
posted by southern_sky at 8:28 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

Someone else stumped by the token back in 1981... (couple pages down)...

On preview, yay! Well done! Glad I was able to shed some light!
posted by booksherpa at 8:36 PM on September 16, 2012

Chapter 12 of Self Mastery and Fate With the Cycles of Life appears to deal with how to use the charts.
posted by booksherpa at 8:47 PM on September 16, 2012

Fantastic! Great job team!

Though to be honest I'm a little disappointed it doesn't have anything to do with spies or secret codes. Or does it?????
posted by clorox at 8:47 PM on September 16, 2012

Well, the Rosicrucians do seem to be (at least somewhat) a mysterious secret society, so there's that...
posted by booksherpa at 8:53 PM on September 16, 2012

It's impressively creepy for such a little thing, though. Rosicrucians were, like, the Scientologists of the 19th century.
posted by gingerest at 8:55 PM on September 16, 2012

Nice pictures, BTW. It's good to see pictures that are framed, focused, large enough, and adequately lit.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by trip and a half at 9:26 PM on September 16, 2012

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