Thursday, 5 January 2017

Down at the Castle in the High Street with a bit of historical magic

Now one of the best things about history is when you get to touch it.

And for me it doesn’t that matter much whether it’s a Roman coin or a glass medicine bottle from the beginning of the last century.

To touch the object and know that somewhere on it will be the fingerprints of the person who first made it and a story that will twist and turn in all directions is magic.

One of my greatest treasures is a Viking oyster shell which had lain in the mud of Jorvik for a thousand years before the archaeologists of the City of York brought it back into the day light.

Back in 1978 when it was uncovered there were so many that they were put in a wooden barrel and were on sale for 10p.

The other find was from the back of our shed where Dad had carefully placed thirty copper earth rods made for one of those very early wireless sets.

The batch dated from the 1920s, had sat in our garden shed in Well Hall for years and had been made in the Acnaconda Works, Salford which is just down the road.

All of which is an introduction to this 17th century trade token which Tricia shared with me.

Tokens like this were issued by traders in the absence of low value coinage, and was a practice which extended into the 18th century.

In Eltham the oldest dates from 1649 and bears the names of Nathaniel and Tasmin Mercer who were running the Castle, while another from 1667.

They were unearthed when the old Castle pub was demolished, and also found was one for William Crich of the Grocers’ Arms Deptford dated 1663.

Now that pretty much was yesterday’s story * so imagine how over the moon I was when Tricia said  "I have been investigating the attached farthing tokens concerning The Castle for some time. 

I have been trying to find out who the initials belong to (NT & wife T) reading your post today I now know it to be Nathaniel & Tasmin Mercer. So I am handing it over to you to add to your blog seeing as you have done all the hard work.

The description is as follows. 17c farthing token issued by NM and wife T at the Castelle Taverne, Issue date 1649, denomination farthing, metal copper alloy, diameter 14mm."

And that is it.  A pretty neat bit of joint research.

Location, Eltham

Picture, the 1649 Castle trade token courtesy of Tricia Lesley

*The George our first pub,

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