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World's largest wooden nickel located in San Antonio

Unique museum offers off-beat options for summer

With summer vacation fast approaching and pretty soon, KSAT's Katie Vossler went in search of some unique places around South Texas that are off the typical tourist paths.
With summer vacation fast approaching and pretty soon, KSAT's Katie Vossler went in search of some unique places around South Texas that are off the typical tourist paths.

The Old Time Wooden Nickel Company started making wooden nickels in San Antonio in 1948. 

To commemorate their 50th anniversary in the business, they opened the Historical Wooden Nickel Museum in 1998. 

All kinds of antiques are on display, from authentic printing presses to one of the first wooden nickels ever printed.

Laura May, the company's operations manager ,said there is one thing everyone loves to see.

"Probably the most photographed thing here in the museum is the vault," she said.

The company prints nearly 6 million wooden nickels a year.

When you visit, don't miss a sneak peek at the actual process. Though they have modernized it a bit, all the wooden nickels are still printed on machines that were built in 1885.

May said the phrase "Don't take a wooden nickel" comes from the use of wooden nickels during town fairs. The fairs used wooden nickels as fair tokens and local business would accept these tokens as payment for goods and services. They would then take all the wooden nickels collected out to the fair and cash them in for money.

"Well, as the end of the fair drew near, they knew that they might not get a chance to get down and cash them in before they expired, so they would tell each other, ‘Hey, don't take any wooden nickels,'" said May.

The Old Time Wooden Nickel Company is located at 345 Old Austin Road in San Antonio.  They are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays, but May said they'd be happy to stay open late or even open on the weekend if they know you're coming. 

Admission to the museum is free of charge, but they do ask that you call ahead if you have a big group.

For more information and directions, visit their website.

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