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The Coal and Coke Heritage Center Collection includes a wide variety of materials from anemometers, used to measure the velocity of air currents in the mines, to zinc horse collars, which claimed to prevent and cure a horses’ sore neck. We are very proud that everything in the collection has been donated–we rely solely on the generosity of individuals for our acquisitions. To all those who have contributed to helping us tell the story of coal and coke in southwestern Pennsylvania, we say “thank you.”

In Digging Deeper, we’d like to highlight a unique object or artifact that has been donated to the collection–along with some new information, interesting facts or detailed description we’ve recently uncovered. We plan to update this section six times a year or every two months. As new subjects are featured, all formerly showcased items will be moved into the archive area of this section. To start, we are featuring one of our latest acquisitions, and three items from the archives, so feel free to dig in.

New Arrival:

Ledger BookThe Reverends Christine and Larry Gipe found more than 100 ledgers and receipt tablets when remodeling the Wynn Union Supply Company Store, near Fairchance, in October 2008. They donated these ledgers, which date from 1906 through 1916, when the H. C. Frick Coke Company operated the Wynn mine and coke ovens. The Union Supply Company Store, a subsidiary of the Frick Coke Company, was established as a separate legal entity from the company’s mining and coking operations. In 1900, Wynn was one of sixty-three Union Supply stores operating in Fayette and Westmoreland Counties. These ledgers were used for issuing scrip, a certificate distributed by an employer, in this case the Frick Coke Company, redeemable for food, clothing, mining supplies, and other essentials at the company store. Scrip was an advance given to the coal miners and coke workers against their future earnings. Since many families ran out of money before payday, the workers or family members could draw scrip in advance of their wages by visiting the payroll office, often located inside the store. ScriptThis debt would then be deducted from future wages, so bypayday miners could actually owe money to the company. Pictured on the above is the receipt kept in the ledger that recorded advancements in pay. On the right, an example of the scrip that was torn from the receipt and given to the employee for use at the store. If an employee was advanced $3, the scrip would be marked from 1¢ to 300¢ and would be punched out as the total amount of purchases were made. The remaining funds on the scrip would then be used until it reached the limit of $3.


Ledger Book