What were these mystery checks/fobs used for?

Many collectors of mining memorabilia will be familiar with the series of "KING COAL" checks similar to the one illustrated below. They appear to be quite common but their origin and purpose of issue remain a mystery - well at least to me anyhow. 

I am not sure if these brass embossed discs (32 mm diameter) are really checks or key fobs. None of the many I have seen to date have numbers or initials stamped on them. Most collectors attribute their issue to the UK's coal mining industry. The date of their issue is not certain but they are thought to have been possibly made and issued in the 1980s. 

Can anyone throw any light on what these checks are or were used for? I would be greatful for any information concerning them.

Submitted By : Mark Smith.
Date: April 2003
I sure I can remember seeing these doing the rounds in Nottinghamshire (at least) during the year long coal miner's strike of 1984/85. I think they may have been commissioned by the N.U.M. (or possibly the U.D.M.)  or even a more localised group of striking  miners. Presumably sales of these commemorative checks (or more likely key fobs) would have helped raise funds to support the striking miners and their families. In this way they could be compared in some way to many of the miners' strike badges that were commissioned and sold for similar reasons. 
I have heard it mentioned that the term "King Coal" could be intended as a reference to Arthur Scargill the then leader of the N.U.M. However, this is hardly likely if in fact these were issued by members of the U.D.M.
Based on comments submitted By : I.M. Cobwright.
Date: April 2003
Regarding the "King Coal" checks, the one that I have was attached to a miniature oil safety lamp (key ring). This I obtained at the back end of the 1984-85 strike. If I remember correctly there were plenty of them about at this time.
Submitted By : Matty Kitchen. 
Date: May 2003

I remember that at various times in the 1980s Kellingley Colliery achieved and broke several production records. I'm fairly sure that as well as the more familiar pseudonym of "The Big K", Kellingley was also know locally during this time as "King Coal". So could these checks be mementoes  of that period? Possibly made to celebrate the occasion when the pit achieved one or other production record. Similar checks/fobs were issue by the N.C.B. to miners at Grimethorpe Colliery in 1981 on the occasion of one of their record production runs. The management at Kellingley certainly commissioned various commemorative items through out the 1980s when the men broke production records. These included presentation medals, Hip Flasks and Tankards. 

Submitted By : Tony Lewis.  
Date: May 2003

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