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Copper Halfpenny Token (1667)

Copper halfpenny token issued in 1667 by George Hamerton of Peterborough.

In the first half of the 17th century the copper coinage in England was in disarray. The King took little interest in providing small denominations and farmed out the Royal prerogative of minting of coppers to courtiers as patentees – Lords Harrington, Richmond, Lennox and Maltravers.  The result of this was a poor, lightweight  coinage that was exceedingly detested by the public.  So after the civil war, with the Royal Prerogative  removed and an essential need for small copper change to facilitate the day-to-day financial transactions of ordinary folk, merchants, innkeepers and city authorities started to make their own pennies, halfpennies and farthings.

They were redeemable in the shop or office of the issuer and to make it easier for the illiterate poor, the coins often exhibit a pictorial clue as to where it came from – such as the guild arms of the issuer, an inn sign or an object that he sold such as a stick of candles or a roll of tobacco.

George Hamerton was a grocer, so his token flies the Guild of Grocers arms.