FRANCIS FEILDER’S TOKEN
Because the copper coinage in England was in disarray there were literally thousands of privately issued low denomination tokens issued in and around London during the 17th century and later.
Ordinary tradesmen issued farthings and halfpennies that were redeemable at their shops or premises. The tokens were struck or pressed on blank flans made of thin copper or brass and usually bore a design on both sides.
A token from 1664 found by Michael Jones whilst searching (eyes only) down by the Queenhithe Dock on the London foreshore is particularly interesting. The condition is quite remarkable for a coin over 350 years old that has travelled (presumably) over 40 miles from Sonning-on-Thames to its final resting place near the dock.
Coins from Sonning in Berkshire are quite rare and there is no record of anyone by the name of Fielder or Feilder in the parish records from this date. However, the name can be found in neighbouring parishes so the issuer may have lived elsewhere.
It’s interesting to note that a year after its issue, the bubonic plague (Black Death) caused the death of around 100,000 London citizens, and two year’s later, the devastating Great Fire of London in which seven-eighths of inhabitants lost their homes. And, if you’ve guessed that I don’t have much to say about this token, then you’d be right!
We know the name of the tradesman and where he was based. From the depiction of a sugar loaf (a cone with a rounded top) on the obverse we can guess that Francis Feilder (sic) was a grocer from Sonning, but that’s about it. The sugarloaf was the traditional form in which refined sugar was produced and sold until the late 19th century when granulated and cube sugars were introduced. If any reader can provide more information then I’d be grateful. My research technique (basic) has come to nought.
Michael is a member of the East Norfolk MDS (Pathfinders) and he visits the foreshore on a regular basis. He usually retrieves buckles but tells me that this token is his best find to date. He shares all relevant discoveries with the Museum of London.
TEA RETAILER’S TOKEN
Brian Ridley of the Northern Relic Hunters forum contacted me with a pressed copper token he found last year in Scarborough. The other side is blank and reminds me of an earlier blog post.
This token would have been given by a tea retailer for the purchase of 1/4 pound of tea. Customers were given a token with each purchase, and when enough had been collected, they were able to exchange them for various gifts. Late 19th to early 20th century. ‘Ardill’ was the name of the mint. Edward Fletcher says:
“The London and Newcastle Tea Company had a free gift sales campaign up and running as early as 1875, with a network of agents across northern England, Scotland and Wales. These retailers sold the company’s tea in packet sizes ranging from 2oz to 1lb, giving a brass check with each purchase. Customers were invited to save the checks until they had acquired enough to claim a prize such as a toy, an item of crockery, or a household gadget.” Tokens & Tallies 1850-1950.