The last time I discussed a token there wasn’t much information. The John Robertson example below provides us with a better commentary on our recent social history. Nothing much changes.
In 1760 when George III ascended the throne, there was a scarcity of silver coins. In fact, from 1804 to 1811 no coins were issued. As a result, manufacturers, tradesman, as well as the general public, keenly felt the lack of small silver change. However, by the end of 1811 tokens were being issued by private firms and individuals.
The Local Historian’s Table Book of Remarkable Occurrences – a pithy title 🙂 reported that in early November of 1811 Mr. John Robertson, a silversmith of Newcastle, issued silver tokens of one shilling and sixpence each. He later went on to issue others to the value of half-a-crown. The book is well worth a look, but I warn you … it’s 859 pages!
Not all tradesmen were happy and there was considerable opposition. A newspaper of the time reported that 120 local traders refused to accept Robertson’s tokens. They signed and issued the following notice:
CAUTION to the PUBLIC AGAINST TAKING LOCAL SILVER TOKENS
Mr John Robertson, silversmith, Dean Street, having by Public Advertizement [sic] announced his intention of issuing Silver Tokens for general circulation as shillings and sixpences in this Town and the adjoining Counties, We, the undersigned, think it necessary to inform the Public that we will not receive in payment any Tokens which may be issued on the by the said Mr John Robinson or by any other individual whatever. NB – We have Authority to say that all local Tokens will be refused in Payment by the regular Bankers in Newcastle.
Although there were public meetings condemning the tokens there were others held for the purpose of promoting them. Not everybody disagreed. In Robertson’s tokens the quality of silver, the excellence in design and workmanship were perhaps equal to any of the period. But they were never recognised as legal tender by Parliament who also tried to suppress them.
And that brings me nicely to the fact that the Robertson’s silver 12p token, shown above, was found by detectorist Keith Dobbs of Morpeth in the North East of England. History comes alive!
John Robertson inherited his uncle’s silversmith business at an early age. His lack of business acumen and desire to make quick progress resulted in his bankruptcy in 1821.
A version of the above originally appeared in my Searcher Medley column
After reading the post Stephen Smith contacted me to say that he had a similar token in his coin box and because of the hole suggested it may have been worn as a pendant. He could be right.
As expected the token was found in Fatfield, a village in Tyne and Wear close to Newcastle. I thank Stephen for sharing his special find and allowing me to highlight it in my blog.
Well, it’s happened again. The detectorist who goes under the name Mark@Morpeth on the Northern Relics Forum uncovered a very fine example in September last year. I thank him for sharing it with us.
One would expect examples of the John Robertson token to be found in and around Newcastle and this one is a cracker! I don’t think I’ve seen better. Also gratifying to find items that tell us more about our local history. Super!