Home > History of Wine > A Pair of 17th Century English Tokens with Grape Vines

A Pair of 17th Century English Tokens with Grape Vines


In looking through images from the British Museum online collection I came across these two 17th century tokens featuring grapevines.  I know nothing of 17th century merchant tokens but several appear within John Yonge Akerman’s Tradesmen’s Tokens Current in London and Its Vicinity Between the Years 1648 and 1672 (1849).  For this post I present simplified descriptions from Ackerman’s book and include images of two tokens.  In looking at the tokens I cannot help but wonder who engraved them and what were the inspirations for the grapevines.  Both vines are untrained, layered for depth,  and bearing fruit.  The vocabulary is similar, five clusters of grapes with seven or eight leaves, each of which five lobes.  Simon Marshal’s clusters feature five grapes each whereas John Barnes’ contain closer to ten, densely packed grapes.  Were they based on a single garden vine or perhaps an example from a London nursery?

# , T.2926.  Image from The British Museum.

#930, farthing,  T.2926. Image from The British Museum.

There are just a handful of tokens which feature a grape vine:

#785 Obverse: AT THE VINE IN. Reverse: GOVLDEN LANE.
#930 Obverse: SIMON MARSHAL, VINE. Reverse: TAVERNE IN HOLBORNE.
#1193 Obverse: JOHN BARNES AT THE. Reverse: VINE IN LONGAKER, 1664.

#1193, halfpenny, T.3095. Image from The British Museum.

#1193, halfpenny, T.3095. Image from The British Museum.

The list of tokens including a bunch of grapes are:

#59 Obverse: GABRIEL HARPER. Reverse: WITHOVT ALLGAT 59.
#103 Obverse: RICH. READ, IN RED LION COVRT. Reverse: IN BASING LANE, COOPPER, 71.
#351 Obverse: JOHN BODINGTON AT YE. Reverse: CELLER IN CHANCERY LANE.
#539 Obverse: WILLIAM SARGANT. Reverse: IN CRVTCHED FRIERS.
#1018 Obverse: GEO. WAPLES, YE OLD BVNCH. Reverse: IN HOVNSDICH.
#1152 Obverse: THOMAS GASLEY, GROCER. Reverse: IN LITTLE BRITTIN.
#1227 Obverse: JOHN VARNY AT THE. Reverse:  IN LOTHBVRY, 1671.
#1619 Obverse: ED. FLOWERS AT THE. Reverse: ROSEMARY LANE EN.
#1632 Obverse: THOMAS MAY AT Y E BUNCH. Reverse: GRAPES IN REDERIF …1669.
#1916 Obverse: FRANCIS CLIDENHAM AT THE.  Reverse: WITHOVT SMITHFIELD BARS.
#2281 Obverse: JOHN GODDIN IN KINGS. Reverse: STREET WAPPING.


[1]  Ackerman, John Yonge. Tradesmen’s Tokens Current in London and Its Vicinity Between the Years 1648 and 1672. 1849. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=YAEfAAAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

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