Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Requiem for the Slug Kings

April 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment

A surprising number of tears were shed when the world’s last manual-typewriter factory announced its shuttering a few days back. Once again, generations of technological know-how are set to evaporate as a once state-of-the-art invention tumbles into museum mode.

The manual typewriter industry’s long-anticipated demise got me thinking about engineering wizards whose skills have been outmoded by the relentless march of technology. As a New Yorker, the first folks who popped to mind were Kim Gibbs and Alan Campbell, the so-called Slug Kings, who made minor fortunes in the ’80s and early ’90s by manufacturing counterfeit subway tokens. Operating behind a Midtown front business called KG Delivery Service, Gibbs and Campbell churned out untold thousands, if not millions, of brass discs that would permit their bearers to enter the city’s subway system for a relative song. In 1991, Campbell described the technology and expertise invovled:

Around 1970 – the year the fare increased from 20 to 30 cents, triggering a mad run on all available slug supplies – Campbell was introduced, by chance, to the wonders of the reciprocating press, an industrial-strength hole puncher. He bought his own.

“The metal is slipped into long coils – really big ones are 300 pounds – and fed through the press,” he recalled. “I believe it was Russians who figured out that a submachine gun could be made from a reciprocating press. Making a slug is the easiest and simplest use of the reciprocating press. You could make up to a million if you kept the machine going.”

How many was he selling? “As far as the total, I didn’t want documents like that in my possession,” he said. “Sometimes I used newspaper articles to track it.” In those early years, one could read that 2,000, 8,000, 10,000, slugs a day were being collected from turnstiles. On his prices, he is vague – “variable rates; at one point I raised it to 15 cents” – and while he has a diary somewhere, he believes any figures would sound deceptively large.

Much more here. I like how Gibbs and Campbell had a nickname for their counterfeiting ring: “The Ministry.” Makes me think they spent way too much time studying the villains from Justice League.


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One Comment so far ↓

  • Dr.OlivaReeves,

    I have to report that this website is not about the Represented Picture of the ‘kingSlug’, And will indeed need to change the text, to support the picture shown to the visitors that have viewed this unfortunate site.
    I can also inform you that the ‘kingslug’ is a African Mammal, also known as an Invertebrate. it can live up to 50 odd years, and eats the left over; dead remains of any living creatures. This slug Is highly dangerous, Its venomous Poisson that runs through its slime veins are really deadly; to any living Species. One touch off its liquid droppings; Also known as: snail Trails, can make your skin swell and you will receive black spots on your rear end (bottom). After day 2 off the infection, You will become really itchy, at this point you should report to a doctor, and stay away from other animals and people.
    Day 3 – Head ache+Tooth ache; the infection spreads quite fast, It spreads To the left hand side of your brain, and to the bottom of your jaw, You will begin to feel tiered :What ever you do, dont fall asleep in the day;, You might have a chance of not waking up.
    Day 4 – Survive? Or Die? You’ll be lucky to be alive, thats for sure! now, if you do make it to this day, YOUR skin will shed, (nothing to worry about, you have layers of skin) This is a good thing, your body has managed to fight the infection, a Bath will help you recover and relax your head.
    Day 5 – You should be nearly their, CURED. The spots will fade through aprox:3weeks, Your aches and pains will STOP, you should nearly be fully recovered, Thank-you for reading, and if i helped you in ANY WAY, Please Message back: Yours Sencererly, Doctor Olivia May-Reeves.