British Token, Hampshire 27 (Scarce). Emsworth. 1797

British Token, Hampshire 27 (Scarce). Emsworth. 1797


Æ halfpenny, 11.24g (30.5mm). Bust of Admiral Howe, with tri corner hat, left; ADMIRAL EARL HOWE around, 1797 below / Britannia standing, holding shield and spear, a laurel sprig in her outstretched right hand, sailing ships in the background; two men working in a field lower right; SUCCESS TO THE COMMERCE OF BRITAIN around. Edge: BUXTON TOKEN, engrailed remainder. 

Pedigree: The Dr. Harry Salyards Collection. Ex Bobbe 1998

References: Obverse type of Admiral Earl Howe is found on p. 42, 27. Reverse type is found on p. 88, 4 (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

Grade: Brown and red Uncirculated; early reverse die break (wc1050)

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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.