Trade Tokens and Radical Politics
J.R.S. Whiting recalls an era when tokens were used for propaganda rather than as currency.
For over two centuries,from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries, the Royal Mint failed to strike sufficient copper coins for the needs of the public on the grounds that copper was a base metal unfit to bear the imprint of the King. So that wages could be paid, goods bought and change given, numerous individuals, firms and town councils issued their own local currency called trade tokens. These tokens can tell us a great deal about the social and economic life of this country for each has a story behind it. But in this article my purpose is to look at some of the tokens struck by radical politicians for the sake of advertising their aims and achievements rather than for currency purposes. They were struck during the 1790s when talk of a revolution was in the air. These tokens can be found in antique and coin shops today.