A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!

21st November 2016 — 11 Comments

kije57kiqThe question on the detecting forum was innocent enough: “Are there any books available or web pages about Irish countermarked slab tokens?”

I was intrigued. I’m regarded by many to be some kind of knowledgeable person on all things detecting, but that’s far from the truth. I’m an imaginative writer and have never set myself up as an expert. I’d never heard of a slab token and was determined to find out more.

My first port of call was my friend Mr. Google. Search as I might, I couldn’t find anything. The nearest I got was an invitation to buy tickets for a music festival where everything inside the ‘Festival Fence’ would be available, but only with tokens! My mind went into overdrive.slabfest-logo-colour-300x141

I tentatively replied to the request on the forum, because I didn’t want to look like a numpty. According to the Urban Dictionary ‘Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others.’

I was given an answer by the person who had posed the question: ‘They are old worn hammered coins, shilling or groats countermarked with initials of merchants and used as trade tokens.’

I graciously thanked the poster and replied that I’d never heard of them and that we ‘learnt something new every day’. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with the reply.

Another poster prefaced his comment with a smiley and said: ‘I think you meant SLAP token, not slab.’ Then everything fell into place. Mr. Google was very helpful this time and directed me to Rod Blunt’s good old United Kingdom Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) where I got the following information. At last I had an answer!


© UKDFD 42130 – possibly an Irish SLAP TOKEN

A countermarked silver coin, possibly an Irish ‘slap token’. Both the obverse and reverse of the coin are worn completely smooth, but the diameter of the flan suggests that it is probably an early milled sixpence (originally with a diameter of about 20mm). There are numerous countermarks especially on the ‘obverse’ face, which possibly explains the slightly concave appearance.

W J Davis (The nineteenth century token coinage of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) describes Irish slap tokens thus:
“So much had Ireland been neglected that worn shillings and sixpences, without any trace of the obverse or reverse designs, were in circulation, countermarked with the initials and names of various tradesmen and shopkeepers. These were called ‘slap tokens,’ from being countermarked by another trader, probably to induce acceptance. They were almost as thin as a hammered English silver penny, and like the imitation regal halfpence and farthings of the second decade of George III., show the depressed state into which the coinage of Ireland had fallen – indeed had almost disappeared.”


siri-2ed99ce102Yesterday I upgraded my iMac to the latest operating system, Sierra. One of the new innovations is that Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface – SIRI, the talking idiot, is now resident on the dock. Ask any question and he will help. I put him to the test by asking WHAT IS A SLAB TOKEN? I’m not sure that he understood my received English pronunciation 🙂 for this was the reply: Hmm … I don’t see any hours for Slab & Tickle in Ripon Street. You go figure!

I tried again, this time enunciating my words very carefully. The answer was  OK, I found this on the web for celeb Duncan. And what followed was a number of web sites about Duncan Bannatyne of the TV show Dragon’s Den. Then I realised that I should be asking WHAT IS A SLAP TOKEN? After the replies Here’s what I found on the web for slump token and Interesting question, John, I gave up, called my ‘new friend’ Siri by several colourful names and banished him from the dock. What a waste of my time!



montage_167Some people have asked questions concerning the UKDFD, which I often mention. This is clarification, courtesy of their website. The UK Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) is a hobby-based initiative, which has the following aims:
1 To promote a recording ethos within the hobby and encourage those detectorists who would not otherwise record their finds to do so by making use of the UKDFD self-recording facility
2 To bring about an increase in the number of detectorists recording their finds, and the overall number of items that are recorded
3 To make available a facility and encourage the recording of post c.1650 finds, many of which are not eligible for inclusion on the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database
4 To provide an easy-to-use and supportive self-recording environment for detectorists, which employs the latest technology and methods of communication
5 To make the UKDFD database accessible as an internet resource for the identification and research of items recorded, and to preserve that information for the benefit of future generations


Posts Twitter

The copyright owner of content on this blog is John Winter, unless noted otherwise. Every effort has been made to assure no material was used without permission. If you are the owner and find that your material was inadvertently used without permission then please contact me. Your material will be removed immediately or your copyright message will be added, whatever you prefer.

11 responses to A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!

  1. Since I do not use a Mac, or apple anything, I guess I get to miss the delightful mistakes by SIRI..:lol:But a delightful journey into the frustrations and vagaries of computers John.. Thank you


  2. Welcome to sierra!

    Ask him to tell you a story

  3. Aussie SIRI would tell you a Slab is a carton of beer. Did i send you our Bpc newsletter that had a story on Countermarked Tokens. Not sure which month now.

  4. I’ve so far managed to avoid using SIRI. Our recently-acquired Honda has a voice-activated phone system which took a while to get used to. I find it odd talking to a machine; maybe Channel 4’s ‘Humans’ isn’t that far off after all. What’s next – a voice-activated XP Deus? I can just imagine it: “Hello XP Deus, switch on; Select ‘Locate Gold Hoard’ mode – now go find!” It’d take all the fun out of detecting!
    Another great post John, thanks!

  5. Another superb post John that could be described as ‘awesome’ by some people.

    Mr Google is good but I much prefer the SIRI answer of a bit of slap and tickle in Ripon Street. Very interesting.


  6. Cracking info John
    Regards Pat

  7. i found a slap token near Harlow,Essex some years ago.it has the name CHESHIRE stamped on it with the S & R reversed along with some other marks on both sides.the Irish in Harlow?

  8. never seen a counter stamped hammered john …never knew they were out there …another bit of knowledge ive learned from reading your blogs

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.