Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NEW BOOK – Tokens and Traders of Kent in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

 
THE PROVINCIAL TOKEN-COINAGE
Coins traditionally contained the value of the metal they were made from, less a nominal amount for the monarch and mint master and could only be produced by Royal decree. By the sixteenth century the penny and its fractions had been reduced in size by inflation becoming inconveniently small to manufacture and use. The general population resorted to using token coins containing less than their intrinsic value of metal until the monarch provided sufficient usable coinage for the needs of trade.
Trade tokens were issued in three distinct periods, the first during the seventeenth century, 1648-1672. The second in the eighteenth century, 1787-1801 and finally the nineteenth century, 1811-15. As well as being collectable, like coins, tokens issued by tradesmen contain personal information such as name, location, trade and even spouse’s forename initial in many cases and will be of interest to genealogists as well as family and local historians. Metal detectorists are a large group of regular finders of these tokens, who will also be looking for a means of identifying their metal detecting finds.

AVAILABLE SOURCES
A number of eminent numismatists (including Atkins, Boyne, Conder,Dalton,Davis,Dickinson, Hamer, Pye and Williamson) have studied these tokens and produced extensive catalogues, generally covering the whole of a series. Until now the only solution to identification was to wade through these catalogues. The asking price for any of these catalogues, new or used, can be upwards of £50 per volume. These catalogues can be borrowed free from the Library but there are few copies in circulation and waiting times can be lengthy. Many of the catalogues were compiled in the 19th and early 20th centuries so some have been scanned and are available online. The problem with scanning old texts is that the scanner has no real comprehension of what is written and so records what it perceives and the result can be gobbledegook! A further problem is that genealogical information and full token details have been abandoned in more recent catalogues to keep the printing costs and cover price down. This serves the collector well but disadvantages not only the family and local historian but also the finder of excavated tokens where only parts of the detail may be visible.

TOKENS AND TRADERS OF KENT
The nature of tokens is that they circulated very near to their place of issue so that the merchant concerned could exchange or redeem them for regal coins. While 18th and 19th century tokens did travel far and wide, especially those redeemable in several major cities, they remained common in their home county. Seventeenth century tokens, those of London excepted, generally only circulated within a seven mile radius of their place of issue. Seven miles was the typical distance between markets where the tokens would have been accepted.
This book is written for the token finder, family and local historian ofKent. It catalogues allKent token details available including all genealogical and local information recorded in earlier books (details of some taverns, inns, and hotels have been updated). In all some 600 recorded seventeenth and around 50 eighteenth and nineteenth centuryKent tokens are included, many of which are illustrated.

An illustrated section on popular token designs aids identification and the layout allows you to quickly scan through to visually locate the token. The great advantage of the electronic book version is that you can use your reader’s search facility. If you find a token that has been excavated, it may not be completely legible. Using what you can see you will usually very quickly track the token down via the search facility. You can search on any string of letters or numbers, design, quantities of lines, shape, unusual metal, value, etc. and providing it is a Kent token, I am confident you will find it!

AVAILABLE AS PRINTED  BOOK OR E-BOOK
 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Antique English Spoon Found in Sweden


Spoon with touch or maker’s mark inset
 
I recently received this letter: 
My name is Anders from Stockholm, Sweden. I am writing to you with hope that that you might be able to bring some further clarity over a find my great grandmother made some 70 years ago. While digging in her garden she suddenly found an antique spoon made of latten, which has been kept in the family ever since, this was in the 1950s. The find was made in the village Hov close to the town Vadstena by Lake V├Ąttern I Sweden. This area was an important center of power in Sweden some centuries ago.
From reading your book, The Essential Guide to Old, Antique and Ancient Metal Spoons, I have come to the conclusion that it is a latten spoon from the later part of 17th century, with a strawberry knop and a maker's mark of three spoons, one inverted, surrounded by a dotted circle. Visible in the mark is also one initial, an "R". The second initial is no longer visible. There is also a line along the "handle".
From your book I understand that the spoon might be British made, both the spoon itself and the maker's mark looks very similar to some of the specimens in your book. Is there anything else that you can tell us about our spoon? For example more precisely when it was made, where and by who. And what kind of person could own a spoon like this back in those days? And do you know anything about spoons or other British object of this sort to have been found in Sweden or the rest of Scandinavia. Just any piece of information would be of great value to me and my family.
 Dear Anders,
Many thanks for your email and pictures. Your spoon is a really lovely find. Unfortunately I am not going to be able to add much to what you have already deduced from my book. While I have found more information on silver spoons, I have yet to find anything else on base metal spoons up until the receipt of your email.
On the balance of probability I agree with your identification. The spoon was most likely made in London, England. Continental spoons rarely have a touch mark or maker's mark. I am a little concerned with the apparent roundness of the bowl, which suggests it may be earlier than 17th century but the maker's mark ties in very well with the RS triple spoon motif with decorated bowls, active in the 17th century. If you look closely you can just see the letter S. Unfortunately the register of makers' marks was destroyed and it is now almost impossible to determine who the maker actually was.
Base metal spoons before the eighteenth century would have been used by the middle classes of society - merchants, yeomen, etc. The upper classes would have used silver (and gold) and the poorer classes, wood or bone.
If anyone can add anything further to this find, Anders and I would love to hear from you.