Tradesmen’s Tokens No II

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Tradesmen’s Tokens No IIThis is the second in a three part series on Tradesmen’s Tokens, following on from my earlier post as promised.  Its from the Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 31 in April 1849 page 369.


From The Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 31 April 1849 Page 369

THE Token engraved here is of the class called “Rhyming Tokens,”— a very rare and limited series.  John Hart has appropriately enough adopted a heart as his device, in juxtaposition with the initials of himself and his wife.  It was a curious but universal custom to place the wife’s as well as the husband’s initials on these Tokens; where it is omitted the presumption is that the man was a bachelor.  Instead of date or motto, round the edge we have this distich, singular for its orthography:

“Take. these. that. wil. Ile. chaing. them. sti.”

equivalent to the “I promise to pay” on the bank notes of the present day.

Snelling has noticed these Tokens, and has engraved one that reads:

“Though I’m but brasse,
Yet let me passe.”

and he has also described another, of which we have an example in our own collection, issued by the proprietor of the “Coffee House in Exchange Ally” (now Garraway’s), which bears the device of a Turk’s head, with this rhyming inscription:

“Morat the Great, men did mee call,
Where’er I came I conquer’d all.”

Coffee having been introduced into Europe via Turkey, a Turk’s head naturally became the favourite sign of coffee-houses; and Amurath III. (popularly called Morat or Morad), who was a renowned warrior, appears to have been the most popular personage, although we have occasionally met with Tokens bearing the head of “Solyman.”

B. N.


Part 3 of Tradesmen’s Tokens coming soon