In last night's Best New Thing segment, Melissa talks about USPS mascot Owney the dog and briefly mentions his many medals. Maybe I've been missing out on dog history or something, but I never heard of this. Everywhere this dog went, he was given souvenir dog tags - tokens, coins, "trade checks"... The Smithsonian has 370 of them, from hotels, trade organizations, towns, random groups (who the heck are/were the Knights of the Grip?*).
I assume that probably at some point during one of the world wars, metal became too necessary to the effort to waste on valueless little coins (though to be clear, I don't mean to detract from Owney's honors), but as someone who never passed a box of business cards or bowl of matchbooks without taking one (yes, I am a latent hoarder), I can say without reservation that I would happily give up the glass jar full of matchboxes that sits on the bathroom shelf (and I'll throw in all of my Foursquare check-ins ever) for a chance to grow a cool collection of medals like Owney's.
For more on some of the medals' stories, scroll through the Pushing The Envelop blog's Owney posts.
*I think Knights of the Grip are traveling salesmen? If you're an NYTimes subscriber, check out this item from 1917.
***Hey Bill, check out the St. Louis token (this is the back):