New Orleans native Rafael Monzon is a serious collector and dealer of Mardi Gras doubloons.
“I move my doubloons around with a forklift,” Monzon said recently, without a touch of bravado. “I’ve been chasing doubloons from my diapers.”
The 44-year-old resident of suburban Gretna, La., is owner of New Orleans Charms, and also operates the website www.mardi-gras-doubloons.com.
Doubloons have been used for 55 Mardi Gras seasons, counting the one just closed, in a tradition that has spawned tens of thousands of collectible items from dozens of Krewes, or associations, across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
“Doubloons” is the name given to the often colorful, usually aluminum disks with special designs and advertising, that are thrown from parade floats. With hundreds of Krewes in more than a dozen parades in the New Orleans region alone, the number of doubloons issued each year is incalculable.
Monzon keeps his doubloons stacked in pallets, sorted alphabetically by Krewe name, by year of issue and by type, but he gladly sells them in 10-pound lots (each including about 950 to 1,000 doubloons) for $29.99.
Collectors don’t have to go to that extreme, of course, but Monzon said that a small but avid group of collectors searches for new doubloons every year.
As an example, he referred to “seven different swapping events for members to trade doubloons” held March 7.
The Crescent City Doubloons Traders Club (www.ccdtc.com) is one organization that works to record new doubloons and share available doubloons with members, as well as calculate pricing data for this niche area of the hobby.
Though these doubloons are not purely numismatic in nature, collectors are likely to encounter them in coin dealer junk boxes and on eBay and other auction sites, as they are often collected alongside other areas of exonumia.