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British Co-op tokens denominated in milk

Started by africancoins, December 13, 2009, 12:54:50 AM

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FosseWay

It was bluetits round us that did that -- they'd peck through the top and drink the cream (which was always at the top before they introduced homogenised milk). The other hazard of leaving milk on the doorstep was that it would freeze and the cream would climb out the top in a long, child's mouth sized lollipop. My mum was always suspicious when one or more bottles of the delivery I'd been sent to fetch from the top of the track had no top and no tube of cream sticking out  ;D

Figleaf

Here is a one-sided co-op token from Basingstoke. I am puzzled by the word ONE in the centre. One pint of milk, perhaps? There are other Basingstoke co-op tokens denominated in pints of milk.

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

Figleaf

Here is a set denominated in goods from Long Buckby. It's an old village that for centuries lived on textile working, until it needed to convert to shoe making in the 19th century. Shoe making at that time was a frustrating proposition. It provides lots of jobs, it needed lots of clean water - in this case the Grand Union canal) and lots of cheap labour - in this case provided by agricultural mechanisation. The factory owners have a vested interest in keeping the labour cheap, which provided prime opportunities for the socialist movement, as the tokens attest.

As a non-profit enterprise, the co-op could provide fresh milk at an attractive price. The tokens would be used to restrict the price advantage to co-op members. They could also be used for absentee deliveries: the tokens would lie in waiting of the milkman, who'd exchange them for milk.

Milk was one of the favourite staples (bread was the other one) of co-ops, as contemporary mores linked poverty to alcohol abuse. Milk was thought of as a healthy alternative for beer and a wholesome food for children.

On the one-pint token, the individual letters were apparently hand-punched into the die. Good examples are the two dots not aligning with PINT and the mis-algned C of SOC. The half pint token is much better, but no parts of the legend are round. Notice also the round marks on the centre of the half, sign of a pantograph used to transfer a design in gypsum to a metallic mother die, but set slightly too tightly.

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

Figleaf

Irchester is in the same general area as Long Buckby and another old village. The ending chester (ceaster in Saxon) indicates a fortress or walled town.

This token is slightly larger, but otherwise comparable, except that it was put together with individual letter punches. See e.g. PROV, where the P and V are taller than the R and O. The second die was made from scratch. See e.g. the placing of ½.

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

Figleaf

And another one from the same area. Wellingborough is slightly larger by population.

A token made with grouped letter punches (it looks like one central punch and two punches for the edge lettering), so much better aligned and spaced letters. The main giveaways are that the big dots are not well aligned with the upsides of PINT, while kerning (e.g. "I" gets much less space than "M") is well done.

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

FosseWay

As you say, there are others from Basingstoke denominated in milk. In fact, most of the known ones are, apart from two for a LARGE LOAF, one for £1 in money and this one and its siblings.

Rains lists three ONE tokens (brass, brass with hole, aluminium) and one HALF token. I suspect milk; possibly these were earlier, and the co-op got complaints from users that they were ambiguous and put an explicit reference to milk on later issues.

Figleaf

Thank you, FosseWay. The tokens of small towns and villages are a good indication of whether the surrounding country was most suited to cattle or tillage. Basingstoke is a borderline case, but I found that the tokens from a few surrounding villages and towns were tilted towards milk.

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

Figleaf

Yet another co-op milk token from Northampton, this one from the village of Yardley Hastings. BTW, Hastings is a family name. It's a nice, deep strike on a thin, aluminium flan, so that a bracteate type shadow hardly visible on the photo, clear in hand - is starting to form on the blank side. All the more surprising is the radical misalignment of PINT.

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