Good Wine Needs No Bush

17th September 2017 — 13 Comments

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:


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.

UKDFD 20453 – Click to enlarge

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.


Click Here: Exhibition Explores London’s Alternative Currencies





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13 responses to Good Wine Needs No Bush

  1. Interesting article sir. A nice Sunday read


  2. Never heard it until now. Thanks John.

  3. An intriguing story , John.. Thank you.. I find the cattle drinking trough most unusual.. and even though , well hidden, it does present a side of the area not seen these days.. a reminder of times gone by

  4. An interesting little story John, thank you once again, it’s nice to se that Andrew is contributing to the Story. We can now identify the wine drinkers. Count me in please.

  5. That is a new one on me I had never heard of that before.

  6. peter walsh …aka…G.clooney 18th September 2017 at 5:48 PM

    it means ,you will end up under a bush ,slosed outta ya head ,if you drink to much of the stuff

  7. Whereas tea does… thus according to their motto, good tea needs a bush and doesn’t need a bush (yes I know… that was a load of old bull and bush!) Good article John (not that you produce bad ones…) never heard that expression either! :0) Cheers!

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