British Token, Edinburgh. Lothian. Edinburgh. 1795

British Token, Edinburgh. Lothian. Edinburgh. 1795


CU Halfpenny, 10.61g (29mm, 6h). PAYABLE AT CAMPBELLS SNUFF SHOP, a Turk's bust left, JAMES below / SAINT ANDREWS STREET EDINBURGH • *, a snuff jar labeled 79, the date 1795 below. Edge: Plain (not in collar).

Pedigree: From the Quentin Brisley Collection of British Tokens

References: D&H 13b

Grade: EF, underlying red. (wc1055)

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By the end of the 1700’s the copper coinage for commerce in England was in a bad state. Coins for everyday purchases were in poor condition and counterfeits ran amok. This led to an ingenious innovation by the public. Tokens of similar size and quality were produced by merchants and private citizens and distributed as good currency for commerce. Over time there were so many tokens produced that finding one minted by the government was unlikely. The demand far exceeded the supply as people also began to collect them. Finally in 1797 the government intervened and produced the copper two penny and one penny pieces. 

Many people know these tokens as “Condor” tokens. This was because a man named James Condor of Ipswich published an arrangement of the tokens in 1798, just one year after the introduction of the new government issues. There are thousands of tokens out there and the fun in collecting all of them would be a lifelong project.