The truth is out there…


With the ground wetter than a paddy field, I have no chance of going out looking for the elusive Saxon’s and no opportunity to find any hammered coins…so I spent the last day looking at what appeared to be a Trade Token. As you can tell I had very little to go on:

Clear as mud huh?

This face seems to show a figure with a diagonal bar or beam running from left to right. Precious other detail remains.

On the reverse – whilst a shield is visible, again there is very little to go on:

The shield - barely visible

As you can imagine, it took me quite a while trawling the internet to find out exactly what I was looking at – but – thanks to some side lighting on my coin – and some fantastic photographs from various Trade Token collectors site, I know for sure that this is what I have:

Tada! - Clear now isn't it!

As the site at giffordonline states:

Although this 1790 token is engraved “Edinburgh Halfpenny” it could also be found in areas around the Capital city, including East Lothian.

The obverse side shows St Andrew holding a saltire cross, and the reverse has the Edinburgh coat of arms surmounted by an anchor signifying the port of Leith.

The Latin inscription says “Nemo me impune lacessit” and translates as “No-one provokes me with impunity”.

The edge states……”Payable at the warehouse of Thomas & Alexander Hutchison”

This type of Token is known as a “Conder” token. They were issued by merchants due to a severe shortage of genuine coinage.

The production of these Tokens was licensed to various nobles under patronage from the monarch. This had been a growing problem since the time of James VI of Scotland. (James I of England) 1566 – 1625.

The tokens were generally of small denomination as might be needed for everyday purchases.Thousands of different types were issued and groups of traders would come to an agreement whereby they would accept each others tokens. When they had sufficient they would return them to the issuer in exchange for genuine coinage.

Again, what mystifies me is a how a Token from Scotland has made its way all the way down to SW Cambridgeshire. As you can tell it has obviously been in circulation for a very long time, hence the degree of wear. If we consider that from the date it was minted it styaed in circulation for 40-50 years, before being lost in Eversden, it makes its journey all the more remarkable. How many times was it traded, what did it buy and how on earth was anyone going to get to Edinburgh to reclaim the token for real money.

The coinage of the realm as already stated must have been in a terrible state for items such as this to become legal tender. That said, its mine now and I am all the happier to have found out what it is…..All I need now is a week of sunshine and a nice bit of pasture…….

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