Four different varieties of the above English token are known, all differing in the inscription on the outside edge of the coin (not visible in the photos), including one with no inscription. All were issued by Chambers Langston Hall & Co, and the above example has this written on the edge. The normal variety was copper, and it has long been rumored to also have been issued in silver.
On October 22, 2009, I purchased the astonishing example of the token pictured above from dealer Richard Gladdle on Ebay. It has a wonderful provenance:
The Collection of an MP, SNC November-December 1922 (12650)
(SNC is Spink’s Numismatic Circular, the number refers to their price list)
W. Longman Collection, Glendining Auction, 12-13 March 1958, lot 1 (part)
(Longman was a famous collector between the wars, he wrote “Tokens of the Eighteenth Century connected with Booksellers & Bookmakers” in 1916.)
N.T. Bagshawe Collection, Glendining Auction, 3 November 2000, lot 771, recté DH 3c; bt R. Gladdle September 2001;
(Bagshawe was a collector in the 40s and 50s and founded the Luton Museum and for forty years or so this coin was in the Museum on loan. When he died his son had all the stuff back and everything was sold in 2000.)
R. Brown Collection 2009.
(Brown was the Brown in ‘Forman Brown’ i.e., the owners of Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels. He died in 2006.)
One might speculate given its brilliant appearance that this is an example of a ‘silver’ token. Frankly, I don’t think there ever were any made in silver – not one example has ever come to light. I think the reference might be to this coin, formed by swaging a thick copper sheet over the blank, rather than the usual stamping process. It is a very high quality product, probably only a few produced. And just as we could add another line to the provenance (Dr. L. S. Waters, Los Alamos, New Mexico, October 2008- ) the impossible happened. The coin was shipped registered mail from England, and the tracking record at the post office read:
Inbound International Arrival, October 31, 2009, 11:02 am, ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)
Origin Post is preparing Shipment
The coin was never seen again. It has been registered as stolen on every site we can find, the police have been contacted, and the Post Office has been searching (4 other coins from the same dealer disappeared the same way at the same time). If you come across this token, please send a note to email@example.com. It has a distinctive marker, a chip in the copper at the edge just under the ‘ER’ in ‘Berkhamsted’.
This is a tragic loss for the lace collecting and lacemaking community.