Ready for info overload? I cleaned up my favourite lead tokens (used as an alternative currency to overcome a shortage of small change) last night, including the ‘partefacts’ (aka incomplete artefacts). Here’s TMI about them…
Clockwise, from top left…
Photos 1 & 2: my fave leddies.
Photo 3, L-R: Powell Type (PT) 19 (animals) and 18 (birds).
Photo 4: the one that got away – I believe 7 is a PT 32 (people), photo 8 is incomplete, and a mystery. I can see a possibly four-leafed clover or similar, with decoration to the edges. On the reverse it appears to show a sundial. Any ideas?
Photo 5, clockwise: PT 9 and 12, compound or irregular geometric, and quartered geometric.
Photo 5: reverse of PT19, photo 3, in clearer detail. I believe it is a horse, with a star in the top right corner.
Photo 6: obverse of the PT19 in photo 3, bearing the initials I * T
“Lead tokens appear to have been used in Britain from the late-13th cent to the early-mid 19th. The earliest pieces, c.1275-1500, tended to be pewter rather than pure lead and were almost certainly of ecclesiastical origin. There is little identification on crude lead to offer much hope to the genealogist or historian; no place name, a couple of initials occasionally, and often not that. The designs are various.”
– Taken from a great article by David Powell, over at The Token Corresponding Society and Token Congress (yes, that’s a real thing).
Regarding Powell’s classification system:
“The Powell system for lead tokens is a high-level classification which aims to enable the ordinary numismatist, detectorist or archaeologist to get a handle on this vague and rather complicated series.”
– Taken from the Leaden Tokens Telegraph, produced by Brothers Mernick.
If you feel ready to dive into the rabbit hole of lead token ‘paranumismatics’ here is a good place to start:
Powell Classification System
British Lead Tokens by David Powell
Lead Tokens Bibliography