Author Topic: Difference between trade tokens and coins?  (Read 10785 times)

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Offline Rangnath

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Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« on: July 12, 2007, 07:53:05 PM »
I've gained quite a bit from this discussion.  I think I now understand what the difference is between Trade Tokens and Coins. 
Peter, have you come upon a piece that is in the middle between the two; where one could argue for either trade token or coin?
For example, a "coin" produced by mierchants with permission of half of a divided government?  Or "trade tokens"  produced by merchant princes whose power was gradually transformed from company into state?
Richie

Online Figleaf

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2007, 08:57:16 PM »
Not easy. I'll show two pieces, one of which is generally considered a coin, while the other is generally considered to be a token and explain the argument.

The piece below is generally considered a coin. It was created by the government (ministerial decision of 22nd november 1921) and below the R in FRANCS is the sign of the r?gie des monnaies, the government agency responsible for French coins. However, the government had nothing to do with the production. It was an issue of the national chamber of commerce and industry (COMMERCE INDUSTRIE on the obvere, CHAMBRE DE COMMERCE DE FRANCE on the reverse), engraved by a private company (Atelier de gravure d'apr?s Joseph Fran?ois Domard, the name is on the obverse in the exergue) and it says BON POUR (good for) 2 FRANCS. It doesn't claim to be an actual coin of 2 francs. It also says BR. AL. (aluminium-bronze) on the coin; it doesn't want to be taken for precious metal.

For the background on this period, see this thread, which deals with a trade token.

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

Online Figleaf

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2007, 09:46:41 PM »
And here's the piece that is generally accepted as a token. It was issued for his own account by John Kirby Picard, Summersgang House, Holderness road, Hull, owner of the J. K. Picard lead works. Picard used them for the gambling parties in his house. His pieces were mentioned to the Prince Regent, the later George IV, who was a good friend of Wellington. Picard was invited to court to show his pieces.

"In 1812, the English army, then in Spain, were distressed for the want of small change."
"I was applied to through Mr. J. K. Picard, of the great Lead Works, Hull, who, I understood, was appointed the agent, to obtain a peculiar coinage to pass in Spain for the value of one penny English ; and which coinage was not to interfere with the coinage of the English Government, or with that of the Spanish Government" (source: W. J. Davis, The Nineteenth Century Token Coinage, London 1979 Davis does not make clear who he is quoting.)

So these pieces circulated for money in Spain during the peninsular war, with the apparent apparent approval of British royalty and under the explicit authority of Wellington. The question is, was Wellington a government? The conquered Spanish territories certainly did not come under British sovereignty. Wellington was the source of supreme power. On the other hand, Wellington never claimed sovereignty in Spain and was certainly not recognized as head of state anywhere. Quite significant is the title on the token: Wellington, the restorer of Spain and Portugal.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 12, 2007, 09:48:51 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

BC Numismatics

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2007, 01:55:34 PM »
To me,a trader's currency token is actually an unofficial coin.If it was issued for circulation in the same way as a coin,then it is a coin.

Aidan.

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2007, 02:18:59 PM »
I think the concept of money is important here, Aidan. Both coins and trade tokens are money. However, coins are issued by a government or other sovereign body. In the final analysis, their acceptance rests on sovereign power. Trade tokens are issued by persons or companies in times of lack of official money that can do the same job. Their acceptance rests on trust in the issuer and need. When there is no more need, rational people will prefer official money, because it is more widely accepted.

As the above two examples indicate, the distinction between the two can be problematic. I think that is no reason not to make that distinction. It is not clear where night end and day starts either and that is no reason not to distinguish between night and day. The distinction is not important to a collecting definition. Every collector is very capable of defining herself/himself what to collect without "help" from others. It is important to know what exactly you collect, though.

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

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2007, 02:34:39 PM »
Peter,technically,the French Chamber of Commerce coins are tokens,but they are listed in Krause as coins.

The Duke of Wellington piece was issued in both Great Britain & Canada as a Halfpenny (1/2d.).I
have got one of those.

Both of these items are numismatic in their own right.

Aidan.

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2007, 02:57:00 PM »
There were Wellington pieces used in Canada, but they are not the same as those of Picard. Canadian catalogues contain a number of British tokens that were not used in Canada. I have researched and sorted out the mess in this article.

US catalogues also routinely list foreign coins and tokens as US. Cataloguers have more fear of being called incomplete than of being called inaccurate, so they keep on copyig wrong information from each other.

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

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2007, 09:12:10 PM »
What a great discussion!
Thank you so much Peter!  And thanks to you Aidan, for keeping the discussion moving.
Richie

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2007, 10:30:15 PM »
You can apply two standards. The first: was it allowed by the government? The second, was it accepted by the public? The tokens issued by merchants in England, during the 18th and early 19th centuries were both. They also had the distinction of having a "value" stamped into them. That made them "current" in the eyes of the public, and even among other merchants. If they said that 240  of these were good for 1 GBP, then as long as the merchant was in business, it was a penny.

Items without a specified value are as mentioned, tokens or sometimes advertising. Some may have been used as a form of 'script', but it would have been a local decision, or a matter of convenience, if it looks like a penny and it feels like a penny, it is!  that rational, but there is nothing marked on them indicating any backing or valuation, it is mere convention.

Bruce

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2007, 10:47:44 PM »
Thanks Bruce. Yes, acceptance is very important for me also. If I want to pay my taxes with a bag of salt, acceptance will be minimal ::) but a Roman soldier would accept it as payment. For allowed by the government I would have put tolerated by the governemnt, but otherwise I agree with that also.

The value indication is tricky. In the great mass of coins struck everywhere at all times only a minority of, mostly modern Western, coins carry an indication of value. In Britain it would even take them until the 20th century before coins carried a value indication. You may argue that on US coins, there is still no numerical value indication, just units and nicknames, just like European coins before the French revolution were only units, with halves and doubles  (or odder fractions and multiples) added.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 13, 2007, 10:50:14 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Rangnath

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2007, 12:56:39 AM »
"General acceptance by the public" seems a very difficult one.  We had no scientific polling, only the few, depending on the country or state, had "constitutional rights" until well into the 19th century, the middle classes were tiny and we lived by and large in an agrarian, rural society.  Transportation technology in the 1820's was virtually identical to transportation technologies in the Roman Empire.  So what public?  The public of middle and upper class men in London, Paris and Berlin? At least state acceptance is what it is.
Richie

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2007, 01:22:27 AM »
I am sure Bruce can handle this one. I answer only for myself.

I think "acceptance" is used here as an attitude, rather than an opinion. People will in general (not) take the piece as payment. That is a function of need (scarcity of official coins) and trust (that the piece is a good replacement for the offcial coin). The latter is a bit of chasing your own tail because you will accept if others will accept and that goes for everybody else so there will be a tendency for almost everybody to accept (which would be general acceptance by the public) or almost nobody to accept, which presumably means you have to start looking for another alternative. There may also be a case of "who cares, the amount is too small to worry over". This was the case in Italy when in the '70s, the country ran dry of small change. People would accept candy or tokens without staying awake over whether the tokens would ever be redeemed.

Do we have information on whether a piece was generally accepted? I think we do. Take the British 18th and 19th century tokens. Both Dalton and Hamer and Davis quote extensively from the contemporary press, including warnings for forgeries and calls for redemption. Most telling is a quote in Seaby that more than half of the toll money in Britain consisted of tokens, rather than coins. That still leaves the question of which types circulated and which were struck for collectors, but that's a different discussion.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 01:25:23 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2007, 04:02:06 AM »
I think Peter has covered it. The only thing that I would add as way or 'proof', that George III saw the wide spread use of private coinage in the form of the tokens and realized how much money was not being controlled by the government. The 1809 an Act of Parliament was passed requiring issuers of local tokens to meet claims for repayment in bank of England notes. Some of these went from values of farthings to three pence [I have one and it is a substantial lump of copper]. So here we have the government making tokens into defacto currency.  The Birmingham 3 pence is 45 mm diameter x 5 mm thick and weighs 67.9 grams. You would not carry many around with you.


Bruce
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 04:40:42 AM by bruce61813 »

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2007, 04:35:46 AM »
And here's the piece that is generally accepted as a token. It was issued for his own account by John Kirby Picard, Summersgang House, Holderness road, Hull, owner of the J. K. Picard lead works. Picard used them for the gambling parties in his house. His pieces were mentioned to the Prince Regent, the later George IV, who was a good friend of Wellington. Picard was invited to court to show his pieces.

"In 1812, the English army, then in Spain, were distressed for the want of small change."
"I was applied to through Mr. J. K. Picard, of the great Lead Works, Hull, who, I understood, was appointed the agent, to obtain a peculiar coinage to pass in Spain for the value of one penny English ; and which coinage was not to interfere with the coinage of the English Government, or with that of the Spanish Government" (source: W. J. Davis, The Nineteenth Century Token Coinage, London 1979 Davis does not make clear who he is quoting.)
Peter
Peter, I think this is not one of those that circulated as money. There were three similar ones, the same obverse, but the reverse had an actual value stamped "one penny" . My reference is R.C. Bell's book "Copper  Commercial Coinage 1811-1819" Appendix B pages 178 - 181.  I have one like the one you posted

Bruce

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Re: Difference between trade tokens and coins?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2007, 10:07:35 AM »
You may be thinking of the dated (1813) or undated pieces with or without wreath below on the obverse, bust without order of the garter and victories on obverse and female seated with olive branch right, trident left and Union shield with a ship in the distance and ONE PENNY TOKEN. These types are also listed by Breton and Charlton (WE-3, 4A and 4B) as Canadian. You will find that the reverse type and similar types were also used on tokens that are Canadian, sometimes even as obverse. On the strength of that evidence plus that cited in my article linked to above, I believe these tokens are Canadian. Note that the piece in the picture I posted is Charlton WE-11. Charlton says of these: "The Peninsular Tokens were struck for use by Wellington's army in Portugal and Spain." Charlton therefore agrees with Davis on how and where they were used.

It is nevertheless clear that the design of the obverse of these pennies was inspired by the peninsular tokens. I think the reason is that the veterans of Waterloo were subsequently sent to North America, where they invaded the US and burnt the White House, to the chagrin of Dolly Madison. (See also MacLachlan's quote in the final paragraph of my article quoted above.)

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