In the early 1800′s no official copper coins were struck in the UK thus resulting in a shortage of small change.19th century public houses, inns, hotels, shops and other merchants issued advertising tokens. As well as advertising the business they also had an exchange value.
Here’s a curiosity recorded by a friend on the UKDFD that that caught my interest. Whilst rummaging around on the Thames foreshore he came across an intriguing little advertising token with the legends:
BARRETT’S TEA WAREHOUSE 44 FETTER LANE – and on the other side it had GOOD WINE NEEDS NO BUSH
The meaning can be interpreted thus – products that are well made or are of high quality (in this instance wine) do not need to be advertised as people soon get to know about them. Seems a bit of a paradox in this case! The saying is virtually unheard of in modern times although people do say things like quality sells itself to mean the same thing.
In olden days, taverns and private houses where beer or wine could be bought by travellers had a branch or bunch of ivy hung up outside, ivy being sacred to Bacchus, the god of wine in Greek mythology. If the liquor offered for sale was of excellent quality, there was no lack of customers so there no need to hang out the ivy.
The copper advertising token weighs 2.8g, is 20mm in diameter and was found in Wapping. The obverse shows the corner view of a three-storey house with ground floor shop and the reverse an inscription within a wreath.
I have a hazy recollection of an Australian vintner in the early days using the proverb in advertising to state that Aussie wines need no longer masquerade as French because they were good enough to sell on their own merits!
My efforts to discover something about the company have been fruitless. Today, there seems to be no trace of Barrett’s tea business. UPDATE – Andy Caley disagrees! I hang my head in shame!
The phrase ‘Good Wine Needs No Bush’ has also been used by Shakespeare and others. Bill has the last word. From As You Like It: If it be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.