By Michael O’Bee, 2022, Galata
In the first half of the 17th. century there was a lack of small change – which greatly affected commerce and day to day small transactions throughout the country. The inability of the general public to buy small requirements such as food, drink and everyday items – or receive change, caused a lot of distress and then in 1648 a solution to this problem of no copper change appeared, the issuing of private farthing and halfpenny ‘tokens’. In a few years every city, town and most villages in England and Wales had some merchant issuing private tokens to facilitate trade. They are a fascinating series reflecting the various trades and activities of their issuers in the pictorial images on the coins – also reflecting the social history of the mid seventeenth century in this country.
Lincolnshire had a total of some 300 issuers of tradesmen’s tokens from 58 localities – the major town of Lincoln had 37 issuers and many small villages dotted around the county had single merchants issuing a farthing or a halfpenny. These tokens are often dated, from the 1640s to the 1670s and have the name of the issuer on them with, in most cases, a visual clue as to the profession of that issuer, such as their guild arms or an item they traded in – a stocking or a stick of candles etc. Publicans often put their pub sign on their token such as the Swan at Barton on Humber, the Red Lion at Wainfleet, or the Angel at Brigg.
This is a fascinating series and Michael O’Bee pictures every token known for the county – from his own collection, other collections and various museums, he goes into details of the locality and also a considerable amount of information on the issuer gleaned from research done from parish registers – such as baptisms, marriages, deaths, wills, hearth taxes etc.
For anybody interested in the local history of Lincolnshire this is a beautifully produced book, not just giving information on the local copper change that one would have had in one’s pocket at that time – but also a glimpse into the mercantile history of the county.
Hardback, 160 pages, illustrated throughout.