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  • Massachusetts Pence - Introduction

    Eighteenth Century Edinburgh Tokens: Introduction


    In Dalton and Hamer's catalog of the Eighteenth century token coinage of the British Isles there is an interesting section in the Edinburgh listing, consisting of 144 examples of crude tradesmen's tokens composed of lead, tin or pewter that were collected by a Dr. Thompson, during the period between October 1781 and May 1782, presumably while he was visiting Scotland. The items are now part of the Banks collection in the British Museum and are considered to be unique survivors.

    The tokens are generally round, although about 28 are square, three are heart shaped and two are triangular. The obverse usually contains only a set of initials, representing the issuing merchant, while the reverse is often limited to the letter F (for farthing). Only a very few contain dates, those being: 1716 (item 86), 1731 (item 87), 1754 (item 83), 1763 (item 61), 1771 (items 59 and 60), 1773 (item 39) and 1775 (item 1). Most of the tokens cannot be identified from the initials, but of those that have been identified in Dalton and Hamer there are 39 bakers and 18 grocers; the only other identified tokens are 5 from beekeepers, 2 beer vendors, 1 tea dealer, 1 ham dealer, 1 cheese merchant, 1 merchant and 1 church token. The 1775 dated example could be either a baker or a grocer.

    These items were produced by local retailers to assist them in carrying out their trade and may represent a product similar to the now lost Massachusetts pence of 1701 and/or possibly the Philadephpia lead and pewter tokens mentioned in 1698. Some examples of the Edinburgh products follow.

    Samples

    Below are scans of the earlier dated examples and a representative page from Dalton and Hamer; all are from photographs in the Dalton and Hamer volume. The numbers are the Dalton and Hamer numbers from the chapter on Scotland under: Lothian, Edinburgh.

    Token of H K dated 1716, no. 86 - click here

    Token of N K / L dated 1731, no. 87 - click here

    Token of W K dated 1754, no. 83 - click here

    Scan of all examples on p. 135, illustrating nos. 120-137 click here for a 150 dpi image and here for a 100 dpi image.

    Reference

    R. Dalton and S. H. Hamer, The Provincial Token - Coinage of the 18th Century,   (originally published 1910-1918, reprinted 1990), Alan Davisson: Cold Springs, MN, reprint of 1990 with introductory notes copyright 1996, pp. 440-447, items in the chapter on Scotland under: Lothian, Edinburgh, nos. 1-144. More elaborate lead and tin farthing tokens from Scotland follow in the Dalton and Hamer catalog on pp. 447-455 (up to not local item 18 on p. 455). Several of these items include designs on the coins and almost all include the full surname of the merchant; those with dates range from 1805-1815. There is also a similar section of 18th and 19th century lead tokens from Ireland on pp. 513-518.


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