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A couple of fun Conder tokens, and a sort of prototype from 1757


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For the start of this year, my budget is taking a break from the medieval coin market, which is running to being either redundant or scarily expensive. The kind of zero-sum game no one needs.

Instead, I’ve been rediscovering English stuff ranging from Cromwellian and earlier Stuart to late 18th century, mainly by way of farthing and halfpenny tokens. The diversity and creativity of those are compelling.

(For the 17th-century farthing tokens, with lots of other cool posts, you’re invited to look at this thread, if you haven’t already:

https://www.numisforums.com/topic/5808-a-farthing-token-of-wapping-in-east-london-back-to-1650/#comment-76177 .  One iconic farthing of the Cromwellian era might end up there.)

But for this minute, I need to focus on two really resonant Conder tokens of the 1790’s, and one example of 1757 which, despite being on a vaguely similar module, is described as a ‘medal [-et?]’.  



Thank you, Devizes, Wilts., 1796, with the really endearing stag on the obverse.  

(In the third of my home towns, stags still show up.  Memorably, late one Christmas Eve, when one with a rack comparable to this one’s walked all the way up the driveway, while I was out for a smoke.  Fun thing about large hooved mammals is that you can look them in the eye, and let them know that you mean them no harm.  In this instance, it was along the lines of, ‘Sure, you can eat the flowers from Mom’s front garden.  No one here is busting you.’)

The reverse is no less great, with a rendering of Devizes Castle prior to its having been largely razed, and then rebuilt in the Victorian era, along dumbly Victorian lines.  This rendering includes what looks like a c. 12th-century keep.  Here’s some of what I wrote the dealer.:

“[...E]ven this rendering shows you what was still extant as of the late 18th century.  ...I have a couple of the earlier-18th-century Buck prints of certain castles, for exactly the same reason: to demonstrate what was left of the existing fabric, compared to what there is now.”

After that, you get this, no less resonant example.





Halfpenny, Kent, 1795.  

Obv.  Anachronistically Roman-looking soldiers (apart from one with a longbow –no less anachronistic, but by less of an interval) cheering on a guy arriving on horseback, replete with a quasi-Roman plumed helmet and c. 15th-16th c. plate armor.  –Imagine it’s a Hollywood movie: suspension of disbelief is what’s called for!  

In exergue, relative to the motif: “1067.”

(From 6:15--Oh, No,Edit: maybe 6:35 o’clock:) BRITISH LIBERTY PRESERVED BY VIRTUE & COURAGE.

Rev. View of the stern of a ship, from the upper deck; ‘ROYAL GEORGE’ emblazoned above the entrance.  Below: “KENT HALFPENNY /1795/ T D H [the presumed issuer]”


This combines two coolly disparate evocations; one contemporary, the other, um, less so.        

In light of the token’s Kentish origin, the obverse has to refer to the initial revolt against William the Conqueror by the Anglo-Saxons, involving an attack on Dover In 1067, with assistance from the newly alienated Eustace II of Boulogne.  (Cf. esp. Douglas, William the Conueror p. 212, as cited here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Conquest#Aftermath_of_Hastings   …Right, Eustace had accompanied William at the Battle of Hastings the year before: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustace_II,_Count_of_Boulogne 


…The other funness involves the ship.  Here we go right back to Kent.  From the late 18th century, several royal frigates were named ‘The Royal George.’  From what I can find online, the only one built as early as 1795 is this one, built in Chatham (drum-roll, please, Kent) in 1788.


…Right, in this context, ‘the wooden walls of old England’ might evoke the Battle of Trafalgar, as late as 1804.  But the principle –better yet, the ongoing strategy– was fully in place well before that.

 Access confessional mode: I have a solid parliamentary majority of English (no, sic) descent.  Sometimes I like to hang out here.  Until someone makes it a crime, it’s like, why not?  :<}


Then there’s this fun one from 1757, replete with a frankly misogynist and xenophobic agenda.  (Back to Hollywood movies, and attendant suspension of disbelief:)



My awareness of these early-mid-18th c. English ‘medalets’ couldn’t be more minimal if it wanted to.  I’m dimly acquainted with the genre only by way of random plates in older overviews of British history.  But that never kept me from liking them.  This is the first one I ever spotted on UK ebay.

Right, this is a phase of the Seven Years’ War, and the ‘haughty queen’ is Maria Theresa of Austria.  …Which is likely to be most of the detail that the issuer was aware of.  I like it for the series enough to hold my nose about the subject matter.


Edited by JeandAcre
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...And, Yowie!  They showed up today.  They're all only better in hand, but the one from Kent, with the prominent maritime theme, has to be the star of the show.  As relentessly sharp as the legends are, I have to wonder if the unobtrusively flatter bits of the motifs are partly due to weakness of the original strike, vaguely along the lines of medieval hammered coins.

...But watch this.  The legend along the edge (always something you want from Conder tokens) reads 'PAYABLE AT THO'S HAYCRAFTS DEPTFORD.'

Thank you, this fully explicates the 'T D H' at the bottom of the reverse(?) field.  

This (top-drawer) Wiki article confirms that Deptford, long since absorbed into East London, bordered Kent and Surrey as recently as 1800 --and, Oops was another major center of shipbuilding!


This is why we have the phrase, 'happy camper.'

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Interesting tokens. Yes I think the strikes are sometimes flat in places. I have some with long inscriptions on the reverse where the outer letters are sharp but somewhere in the middle is flat.

Well, at least Deptford isn't much to do with the slave trade... I think they might still consider themselves to be in Kent, not East London, despite the change of local authority.

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