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17th-Century Farthing Trade Tokens

The tokens of Gloucestershire are a particularly interesting series, and it is a matter of considerable regret to the editor that suitable notes on the issuers have never been compiled. There is a good collection in the museum of the local antiquarian society, and the editor is much indebted to the Rev. B. H. Blacker, M.A., editor of "Gloucester Notes and Queries," for information as to it, and to new tokens of the county. Thanks are also cordially tendered to Sir John Maclean, F.S.A., and to Henry S., Gill, Esq., J.P., for assistance kindly rendered as to this county; and much use has been made of that most valuable periodical alluded to above, more especially to vol. iii., pp. 284-86, and to a privately printed book, a copy of which is in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, entitled "Collectanea Gloucesteriana" (London, W. Nicol, 1842, 8vo). The number of pieces issued in the county by cities, towns, etc, in their corporate capacity is unusually large, and were issued at Bristol, Cirencester, Gloucester, Gloucestershire Hundred, Tetbury, Thurnbury, and Wotton-under-Edge. The early Bristol tokens possess a unique character, having been issued by special permission of Queen Elizabeth, and although not accurately tokens of the seventeenth century, were doubtless the forerunners of the unauthorized issue which so rapidly spread over the entire country. In that capacity the leaden, diamon-shape and circular tokens of Bristol (Nos. 10, 11 and 22) are inserted in this work.

A striking feature of the tokens of this county is that no less than twelve are of unusually large size, and were probably all the wrok of the same engraver, Rawlins, or of others who copied his style; one is diamond-shape, and four are octagonal, and one heart-shape--in all eighteen, differing in size or shape from the usual character. The tokens used by partners in one firm at Northleach and Tewkesbury are also of especial interest, and in the latter town it is evident that the idea adopted by one firm was speedily copied by two others. The merchants' marks are numerous on the tokens, and one strange feature occurs on several in which, while the issuer styles himself a mercer, he uses on his tokens the arms of the Grocers' Company. It is probable his business embraced the two trades.

To the first edition, inclusive of varieties, sixty-one tokens have been added, and the names of Frampton, Hawkesbury, Lower Gitting, Starton, and Stroud have been added to the place of issue. One private token of Bristol has been discovered, and is inserted, and its position in that respect is unique among so many coroporate pieces.

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