British Co-op tokens denominated in money

Started by africancoins, September 28, 2010, 12:09:36 AM

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For other tokens of the Ynysybwl co-op, see here and there

Test bores started in the early 1880s at Graigddu ("Black Rock"). As a result, the Ocean Coal Company sunk the Lady Windsor Colliery in 1884 and Ynysybwl became a coal town. The mine opened in 1886 with 300 miners' houses built on the opposite side of the valley. At its peak, the colliery employed around 1,500 people directly, although most of the 6,000-7,000 village community relied upon the pit in one way or another. The pit thrived throughout the first half of the 20th century. The Lady Windsor Colliery did not escape the troubles that plagued the industry during the miners' strikes of the early 1980s. The pit was finally closed in 1988.

The Ynysybwl co-op, dating from 1890, was originally named Ynysybwl industrial, later simply Ynysybwl. It joined Cooperative Retail Services in 1981.


Ynysybwl 5 1d.jpg
Ynysybwl 9 1s.jpeg

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Since 1868, Kirriemuir's signature industry was jute, in the shape of Gairie works, also known as the J & D Wilkie factory. The plant was largely closed from 1973 and it is currently completely vacant. The company changed to polypropylene in 2005 and opened a production site in China.

Kirriemuir equitable dates from 1861. It joined the South Angus co-op in 1969, but there is still a co-op shop in Kirriemuir.


Kirriemuir £1.jpeg
Kirriemuir co-op.jpg 
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


In 1861, John Castle, silk weaver and a Mr. Dand established the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative and Industrial Society in order to provide cheap foodstuff to its members. In 1903/1904, the re-branded Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society had 3,600 members and it had branched out to social groups, sports activities and entertainment events. In 1932, the co-op opened a funeral branch, an opticien and in 1935, it started a pharmacy on Long Wyre Street.

In 1940, the Ministry of Food introduced rationing of food and other goods. Every household had to register with a local store and take their ration book each week to collect basic supplies of butter, bacon, ham and sugar. 131,140 people registered with the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society, almost half of the population of the town at the time.

Having changed its name to Colchester co-operative society ltd., the society established its fleet of mobile shops in 1954 (photo).
Colchester EoE coop.jpg
A new supermarket opened in Stanway in 1971. Located where five roads met, the store was named 'Fiveways', a brand name that would also be given to other new supermarkets.

On 31 October 2005, the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative and the Colchester Co-operative societies merged, and the East of England Co-op was born. The co-op now has 260 000 members and it runs over 120 stores and supermarkets.


Rains Colchester 26, aluminium, 26 mm

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


See replies #112 and 119 above. These are Rains 16 (2d) and 18 (3d).

Portsea 16.jpegPortsea.jpeg

Portsmouth & Gosport co-operative company was a short-lived entity, operating around 1850.

Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society Ltd. (PIMCO) was formed in 1873 by dockyard workers who had transferred from Woolwich docks in east London to the Portsmouth dockyard. The workers had previously set up a successful Co-operative Society in Woolwich. When they arrived in Portsmouth they decided to replicate a similar set-up there. The Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society's first shop opened in Charles Street on 9 May 1873.

There were a few name changes, but they did not concern tokens denominated in money. Photo: milk cargo bicycles of the Portsea island mutual co-operative society ltd.
Portsea - milk.jpg

The society was renamed The Southern Co-operative Ltd. in 1998. Its head office was located at Fareham in Hampshire until, July 2011, when it moved to 1000 Lakeside, a business park in North Harbour, Portsmouth. The principal activities of the Society are food retailing, funerals and cafés. It operates over 300 stores and funeral homes and has over 150 000 members.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Quote from: malj1 on June 20, 2016, 08:42:43 AMHere is my set of Guide Post co-op tokens:

    penny 21.9mm
    threepence, 21.9mm.
    sixpence, 21.9mm.
    shilling, 25.4mm.
    two shillings 26.5mm
    five shillings, 28.8mm.
    half sovereign, brass 19.3mm
    one pound, bronze 22.3mm

The five shillings can be seen clearly as tinned iron while the others are the same with a thin coating of rust.

The two high values are marked Ardill Leeds.

So the Guide Post Village Co-Op had two types of the £1 token. Both are copper, the first - Dia: 22.4mm Wt: 4.2g Thk: 1.3mm and the second (small £1) - Dia: 22.8mm Wt: 3-3g Thk: 1mm

See Below


Yes, clearly different on both sides. Likely post the 1879 series, but well before the 1961 token. My guess would be 1920s.

We are close to having 10 pages of pictures now. Wouldn't it be great if someone decided to start up a section in WoT? No need to cover the whole country. Just start up with e.g. one county and hope you can draw in others (BTW, that's what happened with the telephone token section). I'll throw in a free course on contributing to WoT. :)

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


No takers at all. Not even some sniffing at the above proposal. What a pity.

Is Cambridge elitist, rich and in no need of a co-op? At least the third proposition is untrue, witness this token (Rains 22 or 23).

Cambridge 22,3.jpeg

The Cambridge co-op started out in 1868 as the Cambridge provident industrial co-operative society limited. It went through some name changes and added MUTUALITY on its tokens indicating a scheme for goods to be bought on credit. The co-op joined Co-operative Retail Services (CRS) in 1990.

Cambridge Co-op.jpg

The building in James street still exists. It now provides co-operative funerals.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Mountsorrel is now part of Loughborough. Its co-op started in 1881. It originally had two shops. The one on 111 Rothley Road still exists, albeit now run by the Leicester co-op society. The shop on Market Place was abandoned. The building was demolished when Market Place was "re-developed" in the early 1980s (foto).

Mountsorrel Co-op Market place.jpg

Mountsorrel 13.jpeg

The token is Rains 13. The hole may have served to distinguish this token from a slightly larger bread token from the same Co-op.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


On to Wales (always a pleasure :) ) Abergwynfi seems too small for any shop, yet there was a co-op since 1896. It took in the neighbouring village of Blaengwynfi the same year, so that its name could be shortened to Gwynfi. It was still too small for a shop, yet it managed to issue tokens in four denominations. It joined Co-operative Retail Services in 1969. CRS decided the place was too small (surprise!) and closed the shop. The locals revived the shop in the old building in the late 1980s and found they couldn't reach its break-even point because (wait for it...) the place is too small. These Welshmen are hardy types. :)

Gwynfi 5i 1.jpegGwynfi 5ii.jpeg

The two tokens pictured are made with different dies. The easiest way to distinguish them is by the width of the D in the denomination (2 or 3 mm), but there are other differences, e.g. the 6 is slightly shorter and the dots below the D slightly bigger and farther apart on the second token pictured.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


See here for a bread token from this co-op.

Rhondda is not a well-fed woman, but a mining area in South Wales. According to Wikipedia, its total population was less than 70 000 in 2020, the size of one small town. Why have a co-op and limit its reach to "Mid Rhondda"?

Midrhondda 2a.jpegMidrhondda 3.jpegMidrhondda 4.jpeg

Showing Rains 2a, 3 and 4. The holes are another puzzle. They don't seem to be cancellation marks.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Freuchie is a small village in Fife.

Tokens have survived from the friendly society. This was one of the early organisations which formed the basis of the co-operative society movement and co-operation laws. Other societies had names such as Victualing Society, which is preserved in some of the co-operative names (e.g. Larkhall Victualling Society). 
Freuchie Friendly Society.jpg

The founding of the first co-operative store in Freuchie that registered is given as 1842. Around 1860 a rival co-operative store was opened. This was known as the new co-operative store with the original one known as the old co-operative store.  The token below is from the new store, which is recorded as using tokens in 1888 – a call for checks and check books.
Freuchie New Store.jpg
This co-operative registered in 1886 as the Freuchie New Co-operative Store. The membership was 90 in 1890 and 111 in 1899. The last noted half yearly meeting was in June 1908 and it is not listed in the Scottish list of 1909. It appears that the society closed later in 1908.

The old store is recorded as using check in 1883 and a 6d bracteate token has survived with the name Freuchie Old CS. This store changed its name to Freuchie Equitable in 1876 when it formally registered as a co-operative store.  The membership was 154 in 1875 and 149 in 1899. By 1909 its membership had reduced to 90. It changed its name to Freuchie Reform in 1914. In 1927 Markinch absorbed Falkland Equitable, the co-operative society in the adjacent village. In 1929 Markinch absorbed Freuchie Reform.  With this Freuchie no longer had its own co-operative society.


The sixpence you mention is in Rains, but the ones you show are not. Great stuff, JohnI.

I hold out hope someone will start something on co-op tokens in WoT. The first step is the most difficult.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.