[From Manx Soc Vol 17, Clay's Currency]
Though at present no high value be set upon town-pieces and tradesmen's tokens, by men of learning, a time will come when these coins will be as much esteemed in this country as the town-pieces of the Greeks."-DP. COMBE.
UR next subject will be an enumeration of all those pieces which are not included in the legal issues of the Island, but such as have been adopted by tradesmen to facilitate trade, known as tradesmen's tokens; to which will be added some account of various medals, medalets, seals, &c., also having relation to the history and topography of the Isle of Man.
The government of a country, from the earliest periods of its history, has always assumed the right to coin its own currency; but in many instances, and at different times, the supply has not been equal to the requirements for trading purposes; and perhaps this has been more especially felt with respect to coins representing the lowest value ' such as the farthing, halfpenny, and penny. Occasionally twopenny pieces, the sixpence, shilling, half-crown, and in a few instances crowns, have been struck by private individuals, and for a time tolerated (although they were never strictly legal), in consequence of the temporary convenience to the public. For instance, in the time of Elizabeth, tradesmen's tokens were numerous, but it was the necessity for a small coinage that forced them on the public. These pieces were small and contemptible, and of very inferior workmanship; still, there are many persons at the present time engaged in forming collections of them, some of these tokens are very scarce and curious: I may instance the two English tavern tokens on photograph plate i., figs. 5 and 6 ; on one of which is the eagle and child; and on the other the triune, very acutely flexed, and of a date eleven years prior to the earliest coin of the island bearing that figure. These small tokens were in Elizabeth's time used chiefly by vintners or publicans; some of them were (according to the repute of the issuer) very popular, whilst the fame of others, seldom extended beyond a few streets from the locality in which they were issued. Down to the reign of James I., the small coinage was struck in silver, but the increase of trade required more in number than that material could well supply. James, by his arbitrary will, granted to certain favourites, for a given fee, the power to coin copper farthings. This privilege was continued and renewed at the accession of Charles I. The consequence was, that excessive numbers were issued, until tradesmen could no longer find use for them ; and their issuers refused to take them at their value. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1644 for their suppression.
A very interesting work was published concerning tokens, entitled, " A Descriptive Catalogue of the London Traders', Tavern, and Coffee-house Tokens, current in the 17th Century, formed from a Collection presented to the Corporation Library by H. B. H. Beaufoy, &c, The work by Jacob Henry Burn. 1853." The English government had, at various times, made frequent attempts to improve the copper coinage; and during the token period, many pattern pieces are to be found, amongst them a " Farthing Teaken," on which is " Typus Monetae Anq. Aeris," thought to be the work of Briot. There may also be found trial farthings of the Commonwealth, with various types and legends, some of Cromwell's have his bust, with various reverses: one has the date of 1651, although he was not Protector till 1653.
In 1649, immediately after the execution of Charles I., change becoming very scarce, tradesmen's tokens were issued; and the government were too busy with other matters to notice these illegal pieces. These latter tokens were preferable to the former, inasmuch as they were exchanged by the issuers when presented; but their circulation seldom went far beyond the locality of the issuer. During the whole period of the Commonwealth these tokens were the only representatives of small trading transactions, and were of immense variety. In the valuable work of W. Boyne, Esq., F.S.A., nearly ten thousand varieties are described ; and perhaps it would be no great error to state that there were three times that number, as they were issued, not only by small tradesmen but by town corporations. On many of these tokens were impressed such mottoes as the following.-" For the Poor," " For the use of the Poor," " Remember the Poor," " Poor's Halfpenny," " For the Poor's Advantage," " Change and Charity," " For Change not Fraud." A Lichfield one declares, " To supply the poor's need is Charity indeed." and a Nottingham one affirms, " Take these that wil I'll chaing them still."
Although numismatists generally affect to despise tokens, yet there is no doubt the time will come, when they will be eagerly sought for, and highly prized, Indeed, at the present time a few very fine collections are already formed; and many tokens, both copper and silver, are becoming very scarce and valuable. The public are indebted to trade tokens for representing upon them many interesting buildings (since passed away), as market crosses, churches, bridges, castles as well as for armorial bearings, merchants marks, trade devices, crest tavern signs, machinery, implements, &c.
Another Act for the suppression of tokens was passed in 1672. Regal coins for halfpennies and farthings, in copper, and sometimes in pewter, in sufficient numbers to meet the wants of the public were struck by Charles II., James II., William and Mary, and William III. The farthings of Queen Anne were limited; and those, as well as her halfpence, are now very scarce. George I. issued small copper extensively. In the times of George II. and George III., very extensive forgeries of copper coins were in circulation. Indeed it is said that more than half of those in circulation were forged; and although cried down in England, were shipped to America in large quantities to circulate there as cents. Dickeson, in his Manual, says that many were minted in Connecticut: some might have been, but certainly not a tithe of those he names. Change again became scarce; and the government not being inclined to renew the supply, the owners of the copper mines of Amlweh, in Wales, issued in 1787 and 1788 more than three hundred tons of pence and halfpence, which kept up their circulating value in consequence of the war, and the increased value of copper metal.
Another introduction of tokens took place at the beginning of the nineteenth century. About the year 1811 the whole of England was inundated with tradesmen's tokens, of which there are several thousand varieties, very many of them of excellent design, and beautiful workmanship. Many silver tokens for different sums, appeared with the copper. At this time great inconvenience was felt in England from the want of small coin; and, in the end, permission was given to tradesmen, to issue (under certain restrictions), tokens of silver and of copper. The tradesmen of the Isle of Man caught the infection, and issued a considerable number, necessitated by the great scarcity of small coinage; and it is of these I shall now give the following particulars, as far as I have been enabled to search them out.
The first and most important of this list, and of very fine workmanship and design, are the Peel Castle Tokens.
Beginning with the silver ones, we have the
1811. Five Shilling Piece.-On the Obv. round the rim, "The Douglas Bank Co. * At their Bank, Douglas." In the middle, " Promise to pay the Bearer on demand 5. Shillings Brittish 1811." (in seven cross lines). The Rev. has in the centre a fine view of Peel Castle, harbour and pier, ship entering, and men looking out. Above, on the rim, " Peel Castle"; below "Isle of Man." ( Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 7, 8.)
1811. Two Shillings and Sixpence.-The Obv. and Rev.exactly the same as the five shilling piece, except in the figures expressing the value, 2s. 6d. (Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 9 and 10.)
1811. One, Shilling.-On the Obv. DOUGLAS BANK TOKEN
ONE SHILLING BRITISH . 1811. No legend. Rev. View of Peel Castle and harbour (no pier), with different ship. No legend. (-Fide photo. plate iii., fig. 13.)
1811. Peel ( "Castle Penny-Two varieties of the Obv. one, DOUGLAS BANK TOKEN ONE PENNY 1811; the other, DOUGLAS TOKEN ONE PENNY. 1811. The Rev. the same in both. View of Peel Castle, harbour, and ship (no pier). Legend, above, " Peel Castle"; below, " Isle of Man. (Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 11, 15, and 16.)
1811. Peel Castle Halfpenny.-On Obv. DOUGLAS BANK TOKEN HALFPENNY 1811. Rev. View of Peel, Castle, harbour, and ship (no pier). Legend, above, "Peel Castle"; below, " Isle of Man." (Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 11, 12.)
The whole of the above series are very beautiful, and very difficult to get in good preservation. They were issued by Messrs. Littler, Dove, & Co., bankers, Douglas.
1811. Atlas Manx Token Penny.-On the Obv. triune without armour, considerably flexed; legend round, MANX TOKEN ONE PENNY. 1811. Rev. Figure of Atlas kneeling; PAYABLE AT THE OFFICE DOUGLAS. (Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 17, IS.)
Another variety, simply tinned.
1811. Atlas Manx Halfpenny Token.-Both Obv. and Rev. exactly the same as on the penny. Edges of both milled. Vide photo. plate iii., figs. 19, 29.)
Silver copies of the penny are said to have been struck. Probably the tinned one noticed above has led to that statement.
These tokens are stated to have been issued by Messrs. Beatson & Copeland, bankers, Douglas,
1811. Isle of Man Bank Penny.-On the Obv., in centre, "Bank Penny"; above, "Isle of Man"; below, 1811. On the Rev. the triune armed, progressing to the right; legend QVOCVNQVE IECERIS STABIT. (vide photo. plate iiii., figs. 1, 2.)
1811. Isle of Man Bank Halfpenny.-On Obv., in centre, "Bank Halfpenny"; above," Isle of Man"; below, 1811. On Rev. the triune and motto same as the penny. (Vide photo. plate iv., figs. 3, 4.) 1
The two last tokens were issued by Quayle, Taubman, and Kelly, bankers, Castletown.
1830. God Save the King Token. - There was a report that an issue of coins for the Isle of Man had occurred during the reign of George IV.; but it was simply this token. It certainly appeared in his reign, but was in no way connected with. the government, except by having a badly executed head of George III. on it. This token has also had the name of " Mc.Turk's Token;" by others it was known as " Caine's Token;" and again as "Carter's Token." It is now easily explained how this piece, became associated with the names before-mentioned; the issuers being relatives, or connected in business, the dies consequently came into the possession of different persons at different times. Another person of the name of Christian purchased a large packet of these tokens, and issued them on his on account. Some time back, evidence was furnished me from the daughter and son-in-law of John McTurk (the former parties still living) confirming the above facts. This token was looked upon by English numismatists as an English token; and I believe I was the first to discover the error generally made. Of this " God Save the King Token" there are two varieties, the most common one in copper, the penny having on the Obv. the head of George III. looking to the right; "God Save the King"; 1830. On the Rev. " For Publick Accommodation."
Another and rarer variety in brass; the figure 3 in the date being square-topped. (vide photo. plate iv., figs. 5, 6.)
1830. God Save the King Halfpenny.-Both Obv. and Rev. the same as the penny, except that the figure 3 in the date is square-topped.
Another variety in brass, the material being the only difference. (Vide photo. plate iv., figs. 7, 8.)
1831. Pro Bono Publico Halfpenny (no penny.)-Obv. In the centre, " Halfpenny Token"; above, " -Pro Bono Publico." Rev. The triune, severely flexed and armed, with usual motto, QUOCUNQUE IECERIS STABIT. (Vide photo. plate iv., figs. 9, l0.)
William Callister, of Ramsey, was the issuer of this token.
Falkners Bazaar Token (no date).-On the Obv,, in centre,
BAZAAR; above, FALKNER; below, ATHOLL ST DOUGLAS. On the Rev, triune and motto as on these figures.
Button Money (no date).-on the Obv. triune nearly standing; usual motto. Rev. WILLIAMS & SON. LONDON. (Vide photo. plate iv., fig. 20.) The shank of this specimen was rubbed off, so that it might pass as money.
" A medal is a history of itself."
Of Medals in connection with the Island, the first to be noticed is a fine Silver Medal, commemorative of the birth and death of the Duke of Athol, which was struck, without date, by Kirk. On the Obv. a fine head in alto-relief, looking to the right; legend, IOANNES. MURRAY. ATHOL. DUX. On the Rev. a female sitting on the ground, apparently weeping; the sea beyond; legend, QUIS. TEMPERET. A. LACHRYMIS. In exergue, NAT. VI. MAII. MDCCXXIX. OB. V. NOV. MDCCLXXIV. KIRK. F. (Vide photo. plate vi., figs. 11, 12.)
Bronze Medal.-Copy of the above silver medal in bronze, very fine.
I place these medals side by side; one to show the Obv., and the other the Rev. Lead Proofs of both Obv. and Rev. of the above Athol medals, from the artist (Kirk), are in the author's collection.
Pass Ticket.-In brass. The Obv. DOUGLAS. 2d. . ISLE OF MAN. BROWN'S THEATRE ROYAL HOTEL DOUGLAS. Rev. blank. (Vide photo. plate iv., fig. 17.)
Pass Ticket.-In brass. TRUSTRUM YORK HOTEL DOUGLAS. Undersigned, " J. Park 61 Cable St Liverpool," Rev. 2d. (Vide photo. plate iv., fig. 16.)
One Pie Indian Piece.-On the Obv. the East India Company's arms and supporters ; above, ONE PIE; below, 1809. Rev. The Isle of Man triune, similar to the die of 1813 waggon rim halfpenny, with motto QVOCVNQVE IECERIS STABIT. (-Fide photo. plate iv., fig. 19.)
For what reason this piece was struck cannot be explained, except by using part of the dies of two coins, forming what is called a mule (a practice very common in making. En(,ylish trade tokens); this was probably struck at the Soho Works, Birmingham. Subsequent information from the Mint, points to its being a pattern piece, most probably designed by Wyon, for some of our Indian colonies.
Isle of Man Victoria Penny, 1839.-On the Rev. engraved P. LYDEN * L'Poole." (Vide photo. plate iv., fig. 13.)
Isle of Man Derby Penny, 1733.-The Rev. engraved "We meet in Peace and Part in Love. Sweet is Love." Figure of a heart between each of the last three words. (Vide photo. pl. iv., fig. 18.)
Peel Castle Penny.-On the Obv. view of Peel Castle, &c.; legend effaced. Rev. engraved: A large church with square tower. (Vide photo. plate iv., fig. 14.)
"With the hilt I seal, and with the point I will maintain."
The Peel Castle Seal (of lead).-Obv. A fine view of Peel Castle harbour, ships in dock, pier, &c. ; altogether a different view to that on the Peel Castle tokens, and evidently of much older date, though not specified. Legend: above, PEEL CASTLE ; below, ISLE OF MAN. Rev. The triune severely flexed and armed, enclosed in a garter, on which is the usual motto. The edge of this piece is plain ; and its size about that of half-a-crown.
There is a hole pierced through, as though it had been attached to some document. (For the Obv. see photo. plate iv., fig. 1,5.)
I have no history of this piece. I believe it to be a seal but after many inquiries, I can learn nothing about it, or any similar pieces. Still I look upon it as a great rarity.
The subject of coins, medals, and medalets would scarcely be complete if the remarks of Waldron were omitted, in respect to some eccentric pieces of which he gives representations in his first (folio) edition of 1731, but which he omits altogether in the subsequent editions. This very circumstance is not without suspicion : perhaps he found he had committed himself too far in catering for public curiosity, and was willing to make some amends by not repeating the plates. The author ventures an explanation of the finding of these pieces, which is inconsistent with his usual antiquarian shrewdness. "I myself saw," he states, " a very fine silver crucifix and many pieces of old coin, not only of copper [which is very doubtful] but also of gold and silver. They were got into hands which could not be prevailed on to part with them, though they knew neither the age nor meaning of them; otherwise I would have sent some to our learned and ingenious antiquaries in England, who perhaps might, by the inscriptions and floures have been able to judge more truly of the former government and rulers of the people." And again: " As I could not obtain the real medals, I had the privilege of taking a draught of some which I looked upon as the most curious of them; and having done them with tolerable exactness, it is possible the gentlemen above mentioned may discover what I must acknowledge myself unable to comprehend," &c.
As to the pieces represented, they are not coins, nor yet medals, and only by the remotest probability could they ever be considered as jetons or counters-that is, if they were ever seen anywhere but on the paper of Waldron's book, as mere whims or figments of his brain, not very creditable to him. As to their being abbey pieces, I believe there is not the slightest proof. The only construction that has been put on them (first admitting that there were such known at any time), was to call them tavern or traders' tokens ; but still they are wanting in three general features of the old tavern and other tokens of England. These always had a date, with the name of the issuer on one side, and very often the initials repeated on the other; and then followed an unmistakable direction by name or figure to the person or place from whence they were issued ; in fact, their special object was to advertise the name, place, and trade of the issuer. Such tokens were invariably copper, and represented the smallest value, such as a farthing, halfpenny, or penny at most; whilst Waldron states one to be of gold, some of silver, and some of brass, thus at once disproving them to be tavern tokens. The mystical figures and absurd lettering of Waldron's pieces only add to their suspicious character.
In defence of Waldron, it has been hinted " that he may not have been a good draughtsman; that the pieces were imperfectly drawn, and badly engraved from the ' originals."
If so they should not have been introduced at all. Yet he tells us the drawings are tolerably exact ; but on looking at the drawings (which I should consider quite unworthy of being copied again into this work, as they can be easily referred to in. the reprint of Waldron for the Manx Society, by William Harrison, vol. xi., 1865, page 71), there are no omissions on them, nothing left out, nothing wanting, but the general sense. All the legends, if they can be called such, and all the figures are there, but without meaning; and if Waldron intended to puzzle the antiquarians of a future day, he certainly succeeded admirably. The Rev. C. W. King, Fellow Trin. Coll., Camb., regrets his inability to give any definite information concerning them. Mr, Eastwood thinks they are tavern tokens, but gives no reason whatever for his opinion. Mr. Syers Cuming thinks it just possible that Waldron might have had some foundation for these strange designs, and he also thinks they are tavern tokens. The late J. Harland, Esq., of Manchester, also took the same view; but in spite of all these assertions, I maintain they have not the slightest affinity to such pieces; and it is not likely the originals will ever turn up to verify the plates. I account them mere myths of Waldron's invention, and only worth commenting upon as being introduced by him.
In considering the pieces seriatim, No. I head, supposed to be a copy from the shilling of Mary or Anne, is certainly neither the one nor the other, any more than it is of the Queen of Sheba; and on the Rev. the so-called chequers might with equal propriety be called,a portcullis, or anything else. The tankard in No. 2, and the comet in No. 3, are both far-fetched figures. No. 4: The figures on it are not masonic. And lastly, Nos. 5 and 6: The first has for Obv. a cherub, Rev. three crescents or half-moons; the second, Obv. female or queen's head and cross, Rev. hand from a cloud. Now I would remark on these two last, that no tavern token (to my knowledge) ever advertised two inns on the same piece; and to these remarks I simply add, that the legends are indescribable, and unconnected with any known language, and that the ciphering is equally unintelligible,. All these particulars help me to conclude them to be misrepresentations, of which, no doubt, he or his subsequent editors felt ashamed, before the future editions were published, and therefore omitted them. After taking the trouble to describe them, as possibly explanatory of the former history and government of the island, and carefully giving a tolerably exact representation of them, is it at all likely that he would have omitted such important relics in a future edition, had they been facts ?
Putting aside the idea of their being tokens, they are also at variance with all rules of real coinage. Waldron admits the legends have never been deciphered (and I may add never will, at least satisfactorily), although legends are intended to be understood, in whatever language they are written ; and we may agree with Le Brun's general description of ancient regal coins
On the king's side, is his head,
And his name round is written;
On the cross side is the city,
Where the coin it was smitten.
An argument, in my opinion, very conclusive.
Waldron very appropriately places these curious pieces in his Chapter of wild and incomprehensible legends. Although he states his unbelief, yet he seems half credulous, and seriously speaks of " four feet thigh bones" (human, of course), " bushel sized skulls," and " enormous cross-shoes of giants" (antediluvians). After these wonders, it could hardly be supposed to be an extra stretch of his imagination to conceive a few pieces of eccentric medalism; and the great mistake he made was in not finishing his theory, and concluding that they were also antediluvian, which would have been a greater difficulty to disprove.