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17th-Century Farthing Trade Tokens

In the Somerset series of tokens we find that the devices are not only numerous, but very varied in character, and may be classed under the following divisions:

I. Town Pieces and Arms of Private Families.--Farthings were issued by the local authorities of the following towns: Bath, Bridgwater, Bruton, Chard, Frome, Ilchester, Ilminster, Langport, Minehead, Taunton, Wellington, Wells, and Yeovil--a very large number compared with other counties. The family coats are: Fisher, of Bath; Rogers, of Bridgwater; Able, of Chard; Grenway, of Crewkerne; Curle, of Freshford; Webb, of Ilminster; Foster, of Kilmersdon; and Wintar, of South Petherton.

II. Arms of the Trade Corporations of the City of London.--These arms were used by persons of the same drade throughout the country, and in Somerset we find the following: Clothworkers1--Bath, Spaxton,* Taunton. Cordwainers2--Bath. Drapers3--Bath, Bridgwater. Goldsmiths4--Bath. Grocers5--Bruton, Frome, Henstridge, Taunton, Wellington; three cloves only are sometimes used--Chard, Crewkerne, Ilchester, Yeovil; and also three sugar-loaves--South Petherton. Haberdashers6--Beckington, Crewkerne, Frome, Langport. Mercers7--Bath, Batheaston, Chard, Frome, Glastonbury, Ilchester, Lydeard St Lawrence, Minehead, Nunney, Taunton, Wells. Salters8--Bridgwater, Mells. Tallowchandlers9--Bath, North Petherton; one dove only--West Pennard, Yeovil. Weavers10--Bath, Coscombe, Taunton.

  1. A chevron ermine, between two habics in chief, and a teazle in base.
  2. A chevron between three goats' heads, erase.
  3. Three triple crowns reston on clouds, radiated in base.
  4. Quarterly, first and fourth a leopard's face, second and third a covered cup, in chief three buckles.
  5. A chevron between nine cloves--three, three, and three.
  6. Barry Nebulée, on a bend a lion passant guardant.
  7. A demi-virgin couped below the shoulders, issuing from the clouds, crowned, hair dishevelled, all within an oriole of clouds. (The clouds are usually omitted on the tokens.)
  8. Per chevron three covered cups sprinkling salt.
  9. Per fesse and per pale, three doves, each holding an olive branch.
  10. On a chevron between three leopards' faces, as many roses.
* On one of the bench ends in the church at Spaxton is carved a representation of a man at work on a piece of cloth--the Fullers' Panel. See "Proceedings," Somerset Archaeological Society, vol. vii.

III. Merchants' Marks.--Walters, of Bath; Giles, of Beckington; Haviland, of Bridgwater; Turner, of Frome; Bradford, of Lullington; Brown and Byrtt, of Shepton Mallet.

IV. Tavern and Shop Signs.--Angel, Three Swans, White Hart, Mermaid, Rose and Crown, Bell, Crown, Harp, Nag's Head, Seven Stars, Globe, Catherine Wheel, Lamb and Flag, Checkers, Half Moon, Fountain, Ship, St. George and the Dragon, Castle, Fleur-de-Lys, Eagle, White Ball, Three Widows, Lion, Half Moon, Unicorn, Soldier.

V. Implements, Articles of Trade, Domestic Use, and Dress.--Many of the following were probably shop signs: Croppers' shears, scythe, woolcomb, scissors, curry comb, spade, mortar and pestle, hammer and pincers, scales, teazle brush, cord, axe, shuttle, cloth brush, cauldron, tailors' pressing-iron, woolpack, madder bag, hand holding a pen, stick of candles, pipes and roll of tobacco, barrel, roll of bread, stocking, had and feather, book.

VI. Animals and Plants.--Pegasus, birds, talbot with chian, dog and hare, stag, unicorn, cock, greyhound, squirrel, rose, Glastonbury thorn, bunch of grapes.

VII. Loyal Mottoes and Emblems.--Beckington ("Glory be unto the King"); Chard ("Receive the Crown in every Town"); Glastonbury (royal arms), South Cadbury (King's head), Weston (Prince's feathers). The Crown, and Rose and Crown, frequently occur.

VIII. Punning.--Swallow, Bath; Bishop, Glastonbury (bust of a Bishop, mitred); Churchey Somerton (a church); Hancock, Weston (a hand and a cock).

The earliest date on a Somerset token is 1651, and the latest, 1671.

The frequent occurrence of the woolcomb, croppers' shears, woolpack, and other implements connected with the woollen manufacture, would tend to prove that cloth making was a flourishing industry in Somerset at that period. It still lingers at two or three places in the eastern part of the county, whilst serges and other woollen goods are made extensively at the present time at Wellington.

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