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Aldgate & Aldersgate Tavern Tokens

October 28, 2014
by the gentle author

The Pie (Magpie), issued by David Gill 1671, Aldgate Without

The issuing of currency was the Prerogative of the Monarch until Charles I got his head chopped off in 1649, and anyone was free to mint their own coins. It was practice taken up chiefly by taverns and coffee houses and, occasionally, others as well – such as the trader at the Bear in Aldgate, who was believed to have been a Cheesemonger.

Last week, I showed you the Tavern Tokens from Bishopsgate and these are complemented today by those from Aldgate and Aldersgate – two of the other primary approaches to the City of London, each lined with inns used as points of arrival and departure for travellers.

At first, farthing tokens were issued that were the same size as those formerly issued by the Mint. Yet, by 1656, larger tokens serving as half-pennies began to appear and, by 1663, pennies. After the Restoration of the Monarch in 1661, the Mint began to produce coinage again and in 1672, the issuing of tokens was made illegal by Royal Proclamation of Charles II.

The production of these tiny intricate tokens spans only a few years but, in their lively imagery and dramatic patination, they evoke the life of London in one of its most volatile times, when we experienced a Revolution, a Civil War, a Regicide, a Plague, a Fire and a Restoration – all in one quarter century.

The Queen’s Head, Aldgate - Vintner, Thomas Withers

The Castle, Aldgate – Thos Slightholme, Vintner

Anchor & Heart, Aldgate - Vintner, Andrew Kildermore

At The Bear, possibly a cheesemonger’s - Proprietor Will Ford

Gabriel Harper, 1651 - A pun on the Vintner’s name

The Grapes, Aldgate Without  - Was this issued at the Hoop & Grapes, still standing?

The Bell, Aldgate Within

Three Morris Dancer, Aldersgate - Vintner, John Lisle

Crowned Cock & Bottle, Aldersgate St - Mathew White, Vintner

Swan & Sugar Loaf, Aldersgate St

The Mermaid, St Anne’s Lane, Aldersgate -Vintner, John Wickers, 1667

The Fountain, Aldersgate Within - Matthew Hutchinson, Vintner

At The Still, Aldersgate St - Vintner, Michael Symonds

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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Bishopsgate Tavern Tokens

2 Responses leave one →
  1. October 28, 2014

    Farthings had last been issued by “The Mint (in the Tower of London)” during the reign of Edward VI but being silver were too small, by then, to be viable. Elizabeth I tried to get round the problem by issuing silver three farthing coins but James I (and later his son Charles I) sold patents to issue copper farthings which were made somewhere in London but not at The Mint. It was these patents that Parliament cancelled in 1642 leaving a void filled by the private issues.
    Official copper farthings (struck on blanks imported from Sweden) were not issued until 1672. That is why the private tokens continued for so long after the 1660 restoration of the monarchy.
    Philip Mernick

  2. October 28, 2014

    Very interesting and great that so many of these little tokens survived. Valerie

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