Workplace Contraband Receipt Tokens

As in most coal mines, the definition of “contraband materials” in facilities manufacturing and handling explosives includes anything that could start, or be used to propagate a fire or explosion. Such materials typically include matches, tobacco and other smoking materials, anything that may cause sparks plus any non-safety approved electrical items. It is common practice that on entering such facilities employees must declare and temporarily surrender any of the above materials in their possession to a nominated work’s official or the time office staff before entering their allocated working areas. In some such facilities, in the interests of plant safety, employees are commonly “spot searched” for such materials before being allowed final access to their respective working stations. If non-surrendered “contraband” materials are found on their person they are typically fined or threatened with dismissal.

In at least one British explosives factory during the Great War, it is known that at the start of each shift, after temporarily surrendering any contraband materials in their possession, the employees were handed individually numbered identification tokens. The unique identification number on these tokens would match with similarly numbered boxes or storage “cubby holes” in which the employee’s confiscated materials were temporarily stored for safekeeping. After completion of their shift, the workers would return to the time office (or an alternative location) and hand over their “contraband” receipt tokens to the duty staff members. In return they would give them back their respective property from the numbered safe storage area.

A “contraband” material (in this case specifically identified as a box of matches) receipt ticket used during the Great War at Kynoch’s explosives production factory in Arklow, Ireland.