St. Martin’s Lane, At the Sign of Ye Balcony, Halfpenny Token, Greetings Card, 1667,
125 x 125 mm, contained in cellophane wrapper with fitted envelope.
Seventeenth-century brass tokens came to prominence with the breakdown of royal authority following the execution of Charles 1 in 1648/9. There was a chronic shortage of small change for everyday transactions and the authorities showed little interest in resolving the problem. So traders took it on themselves to produce their own token currency which gives a fascinating insight into business and life during the period. Many of the businesses have connections which can be traced today, for example, places referred to in Samuel Pepys’ diaries.