O’Brien Coin Guide: The Unofficial Irish Token Coinages of Queen Victoria (1837-1901)


A simple chronological listing of Irish trade tokens during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

  • This list will be expanded as and when I find new tokens to add.
  • Tokens appear in alphabetical order, within year
  • Since not all large towns or even all counties are represented by Victorian trade tokens, it is pointless to list them any other way.
    • To quickly search for your town or county, just press Ctrl + F and a search box will appear.
    • Input the placename, company name, or any other text / number in this pop-up box and press the Enter key, then click on the down arrow to find the next entry.

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1839

Tralee

M H Reardon’s Drapers Tralee (County Kerry) farthing token

  • Obverse: Legend on five lines: “M. H. REARDON * ONE FARTHING 1839 * TRALEE”
  • Reverse: Legend on five lines: “WOLLEN LINEN & HAT WAREHOUSE * PAYABLE AT TRALEE”
  • Plain edge. Listed in Bell as: “SCARCE”

1840

Belfast

Ferrar & Co, Donegall Place, Brass Farthing Trade Token, undated (c.1840),

  • obverse: SILK MERCERS HABERDASHERS &c in four lines at centre, FERRAR & COMPY above,
  • reverse: ONE FARTHING at centre, PAYABLE AT DONEGALL PLACE around,
  • diameter 21mm, edge plain

Ferrar & Taggart, Donegall Place, Brass Farthing Trade Token, undated (c.1840)

  • obverse: SILK MERCERS HABERDASHERS &c in four lines at centre, FERRAR & TAGGART above,
  • reverse: ONE FARTHING at centre, PAYABLE AT DONEGALL PLACE around,
  • edge plain

1841

Belfast

John Arnott & Co, Bridge Street, Brass Farthing Trade Token, undated (c.1841),

  • obverse: SILK MERCERS DRAPERS &c in four lines at centre, JOHN ARNOTT & Co above,
  • reverse: ONE FARTHING at centre, PAYABLE AT No. 7 & 9 BRIDGE ST BELFAST around, diam. 21mm,
  • edge: plain

1858

Cloghjordan

William Hodgins 1d Token, Cloghjordan, Co Laois (then Queen’s County)

  • obverse: WILLIAM HODGINS / CLOGHJORDAN, around edges, BANKER centre
  • reverse: IRELAND at top, 1858 at bottom, floral design in centre
  • edge: plain

1861

Waterford – Knockmahon, Mining Company of Ireland

Undated

Galway – Ballyglunin Estate token

These are ‘truck’ tokens and they were banned by the Truck Acts in Britain and Ireland because employees were sometimes partly paid in ‘truck’ tokens – spendable only in the issuer’s own shops, where prices were generally higher than elsewhere.  This was a ‘scam’ whereby the employer not only paid low wages but also over-charged his employees for goods they required.  It is also known as the “company store” system, commonly leading to debt bondage.  Truck tokens were also common in the American colonies and were in use well after Independence, where they were also known as ‘scrip’ or ‘chits’.  It is thought the Ballyglunin tokens were issued in the 1850’s

The Blake family held an estate of almost 10,500 acres in Co Galway, which was valued in 1883 at nearly £4,000 according to The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (1883).  By March 1916 the Blake’s had accepted a final offer of over £60,000 from the Congested Districts’ Board for almost 9,800 acres of their estate.

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Further reading:

Rice, G. Irish Tavern Tokens. The John Sweeney Collection Supplemented by other Collections. 2013. Published jointly by the Numismatic Society of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. 113 pages, b/w illustrations throughout. Card covers. This superb publication is the result of many years research based on the John Sweeney collection of Tavern tokens which has been supplemented by tokens from other collections. The result is the most comprehensive publication of Irish Tavern Tokens to date and it brings new dimensions to the study of this branch of numismatics. Gerard Rice has written this comprehensive book for numismatists, be they collectors or students of the subject, and it illustrates 350 examples from a catalogue of over 400 Irish tavern tokens. Most were struck by the company controlled by John Craig Parkes at the Coombe in Dublin. Individual tokens are fully described and are crossed-referenced to other popular tavern token catalogues. When known, the provenance of an individual token is listed. Each piece, including the issuing proprietor, has been carefully researched and recorded and where a ‘social context’ is understood, that too is included, making the finished volume a comprehensive commentary on the licensed trade as evidenced by the tavern tokens of post famine Dublin. For easy reference the book includes an index of types, an index of places and an index of issuers.

Withers, P. & B. The Token Book, 17th, 18th and 19th Century Tokens and Their Values. Galata, 2010. Octavo, pp. 512, over 2,500 full colour illustrations. Casebound. This comprehensive survey begins with a 20 page introduction and a brief account of how to understand tokens, with a useful list of the standard reference works for each main type. Nearly 3500 17th century tokens have been listed, with Williamson/Dickinson ref. numbers, and prices for Fine condition. Over 2,500 of these are illustrated, including the most commonly found pieces, the most interesting, those that are heart-shaped, square, hexagonal or octagonal, and those depicting the tools and products of various trades and activities, inn signs, and the arms of the livery companies. For each county there are details of the token-issuing towns, cities and villages with the number of tokens they issued. Offering far more information and more illustrations than the Schwer guide, the18th century tokens are listed here with Dalton & Hamer references and all types are listed with edge varieties and prices for up to three grades. 19th century silver tokens have also been listed with Dalton & Hamer references with all types listed and prices for EF condition. All types have been listed for 19th century copper tokens with the relevant Withers references and prices for three grades. Evasion halfpennies and farthings have been listed with Atkins references and prices for fair or Fine condition. There is a select bibliography at the end of the book along with a detailed index with 2000 entries.

Withers, P. & B.. The Token Book 2. Unofficial farthings and their values 1820 – 1901. 310 pages, colour illustrations throughout. Rarity guide and valuations. Casebound. Totally different to ‘The Token Book’, this new volume lists all the latest discoveries – including new types and varieties. The issuers researched from directories, census returns and other sources, revealing their ages, details of their families, how many servants they employed.  When they died, their wills, etc. About 1,100 tokens listed including 686 English, 193 Irish, 156 Scottish, 13 Welsh, and 45 non-local including 22 ʻColumbiaʼ farthings.

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