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British pub tokens

Started by JBK, July 07, 2022, 10:12:57 PM

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JBK

Here are a couple recent pick-ups from a seller in Canada.

s-l400 (9).jpgs-l400 (10).jpg 

I was lounging in bed this past Sunday morning and I came across these online and did a bit of internet research before purchasing.

I searched for the words on the tokens, and I found only one useful result - a blog titled "Lost Pubs of Bolton".  It gave some great history about the obvious issuer.

It turned out that "PEELSARMS" was actually PEELS ARMS, the name of a pub (or "beer house" as the blog called it) in Bolton (UK) that was owned by William Grime.

Mr. Grime was listed in an 1841 census as a weaver living on Sidney Street, and by 1853 he was listed as the owner of the Peels Arms at 30-32 Sidney Street in Bristol, which also sold general provisions. He was brewing his own beer by 1871.

In 1884 Hilton Mills opened next door, providing further working class clientele for the pub. (The mill burned down 1892).

The pub lasted under another owner until 1962, when redevelopment resulted in big changes to what the website artfully referred to as an "over-pubbed area." 

The license was surrendered along with that of another nearby pub so that newer pubs could be opened in the vicinity while the buildings housing and surrounding the Peels Arms were torn down for redevelopment.

Back to the tokens...some random thoughts...

The counterstamps are on the reverse of early Queen Victoria coinage. The reverse designs seem to have been removed prior to stamping.

Based on this, as well as the fact that UK coins were used/defaced, I am  thinking that these might not have been advertising tokens but rather trade tokens or private coinage/tokens.

Could Mr. Grime have paid his employees in these tokens to ensure they were spent in his pub/store? Did he have some scheme to ensure that local workers ended up with these proprietary tokens that were only valid at his businesses?

We'll never know for sure, of course, but I'd be curious about any ideas or opinions.




africancoins

Before the pub name etc.. was added to these they had not been coins. They had been brass tokens similar to the "TO HANOVER" counters but having a blank reverse.

When details that pertain (or seems to pertain) to a pub appear on such counters then they are known as such as "poor man's" pub tokens/checks... The more normal pub tokens/checks would have been made to order with just designs/legends pertaining to a particular pub as oppose to something stamped on a counter.

Only a small proportion of the the poor man's pub tokens/checks include clear details of owner, pub name and location. Some include simple images.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker

FosseWay

Was it common to have To Hanover-style tokens with blank reverses? This is the first time I've heard of them.

I presumed that these actually are To Hanover (or Keep Your Temper or similar) tokens that have been filed down and repurposed.

Otherwise, I agree with africancoins on the origin of these.

JBK

Thank you for that great background!

I don't have these in hand yet but I had an inkling that the obverse looked a little off for a coin.

Your explanation fits my skepticism that they were advertising tokens intended to enter general circulation.

Exactly how were pub tokens used? To buy drinks in advance? To give as change to customers to force repeat business?

Thanks again!


FosseWay

QuoteCould Mr. Grime have paid his employees in these tokens to ensure they were spent in his pub/store? Did he have some scheme to ensure that local workers ended up with these proprietary tokens that were only valid at his businesses?
He *could* have, meaning it is physically possible that he did, but if so, it was most likely illegal. Doing this (called "truck") was outlawed for most occupations in 1831 and some loopholes were closed in 1887 by successive Truck Acts.

They're more likely to have to do with the pub's customers - used as credit or discount checks to encourage repeat custom by poor locals who couldn't really afford it.

JBK

Thanks!

That scenario fits perfectly with the neighborhood where the Peels Arms was located.

africancoins

The one piece with "J.J" in the 2 piece lot currently here...

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/255618882286

...shows a token without signs of a design having been filed away... also note that ring of beading close to the rim is intact. (I likely have a generally similar token.)

So the stamped token would very much seem to have been originally been made as a token with a reverse on which there was just a ring of beading and a rim.

Thanks Mr Paul Baker

Figleaf

First, congratulations with the research. Victorian times were neither as innocently romantic as Dickens saw them, nor as dangerous as described by Conan Doyle. Your story of an upwardly mobile weaver, catering to a crowd of workers who should really go home, rather than drink sounds like a better fit.

As for whether the tokens were made of coins or card player's tokens, you will know when you hold them in your hand. The card player's tokens are noticeably lighter and thinner.

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

brandm24

Great tokens, JBK. I noticed these two also but have seen other examples in the past. I don't recall the text or value but remember them well because of the man's interesting surname.

When you have a chance to examine them closely please get back to us with your observations.

Bruce
Always Faithful

FosseWay

Quote from: Figleaf on July 08, 2022, 07:30:14 AMAs for whether the tokens were made of coins or card player's tokens, you will know when you hold them in your hand. The card player's tokens are noticeably lighter and thinner.

Peter
True as a rule of thumb but there are some pretty dense/heavy tokens, especially the To Hanover ones, that don't show a huge difference in that respect to coins. 

Two features that are *always* (AFAIK) different between these tokens and regal coinage are:

- The tokens are brass; the superficially similar coins are copper. Granted, with worn/dirty pieces it can be hard to tell the difference.

- The legends on the tokens are always wrong for regal coinage. The pre-1860 copper coinage had just VICTORIA DEI GRATIA. The post-1860 coinage had a different portrait of the queen and VICTORIA D G REG F D with varying punctuation.

Also, many of the tokens have reeded edges, which none of Victoria's coppers do.

bhx7