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17th-Century Farthing Trade Tokens

For many of the notes on issuers of Norfolk and Norwich tokens we are greatly indebted to Mr. E. A. Tillett's (privately printed) "Norfolk Tokens." We have also to thank the Rev. C. R. Manning and other contributors for their valuable assistance.

The number of seventeenth-century tokens issued in the county of Norfolk and city of Norwich was very large--greater, in fact, than any other county, excepting Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Yorkshire--and is just about equal with Suffolk, there being over 350 issues and varieties, from upwards of fifty towns and villages. No fancy shapes occur, the tokens being round in shape and mostly farthings, only a few halfpence and no pence being issued. Norwich, with over a hundred issuers, produced nothing but farthings. Town-pieces (all farthings) were issued in Norwich (three dates), Yarmouth (two dates), Lynn Regis (two dates), and Cley and Diss one each, which has an anchor and a horseshoe on the obverse and reverse sides respectively.

Many tavern signs are borne upon the tokens of Norfolk, among which we find the Anchor, Bell, Bull, Cross Keys, Crown, Cock, Dove, Eagle and Child, Feathers, Grapes, George and Dragon, Horse, King's Head, Lion, Lamb, Man-in-the-Moon, Rose, Swan, Sun, Wounded Hart, etc.; also showing trade emblems of their issuers, as a ship, shuttle, sugarloaf, man dipping candles, jug, scales, mortar, stocking, key, woolcomb, trowel, helmet, fleece, crossed swords, spade, wheatsheaf, sheaf of arrows, etc. We must not, however, accept the symbol upon the token as necessarily showing the issuer to be an innkeeper, or that the sign actually represented his trade, nearly all traders using a distinctive sign of their own: for instance, we have in Asby the haberdashers' arms and a bull's head on the same coin, a Lynn woolcomber has a rose, Cooper of Norwich has a king's head and a full-blown rose; L. Goodwyn, confectioner, lived at the Golden Camel; and so we have many others. A few of these old signs are still in existence. In Norwich we have the Golden Key, Grasshopper, and Fleece, still shown as old trade signs.

a few issuers indulged in monogram, and a larger number were content with their (and often their wife's) initials only, or cojointly with date, merchant's marks, and curious devices derived from the names of the token issuer are also found in limited numbers.

Many of the arms of the guilds or companies are shown as a device, upwards of 180 of the Norfolk tokens being so treated. The arms of the Grocers' Company appears in sixty-seven, the Mercers' upon twelve, the Bakers' upon five, the Drapers' and Tallowchandlers' four each, the Apothecaries' and Merchant Tailors' three each, the Blacksmiths', Haberdashers', and Ironmongers' two each, and the Coopers', Cordwainers', Brewers', Dyers', Fruiterers', Upholsterers', and Weavers' one each. The arms of the city of Norwich and of the Duke of Norfolk are also shown. Some few use the armorial bearings of their own families.

The whole of the large series of Norfolk tokens was issued from 1650 to 1671, these being the earliest and latest dates known among them.

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