The history of the chemical and petroleum industries, which created the modern plastics industry, is widely available from books, published articles and the internet. But very few people know that it's also available through numismatics: the study of coins.
Cities, provinces and companies issued coins, currency, medals and related numismatic items for a variety of reasons — such as economic crises, military conflict, wages and employee benefits — to commemorate events and for customer promotions. Most of the coins and currency issued by these companies could only be used within the company in cafeterias, canteens, company stores and production facilities.
Through numismatics, company histories can be seen and we can see that strategies that we take for granted today were practiced for more than 100 years. These strategies include back and forward integration, feedstock-driven foreign investments, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, research and development, and globalization.
Western Europe gave birth to the chemical industry. The explosives, glass, soap and textiles industries provided the demand with coal, salt (sodium chloride) and pyrites (a waste byproduct of coal mining) providing the raw material base for its development. Germany had the largest deposits of coal in Europe and one of the best university systems focusing on chemistry, so it became the center of the European chemical industry.
Many of the coins and banknotes were issued by companies that no longer exist. They either closed or, most often, were acquired by companies currently operating. Let's take a look at issues that led to the release of these historical objects.