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17th century Alton trade tokens

The tokens recorded for Alton are thought to be 'town pieces' probably issued by the Churchwardens or the Overseers of the Poor, both groups being early administrators in the town.

The tokens seem to have been issued in the years 1650, 1652, 1663, 1664 and 1666. 

They bear the inscription "OF ALTON IN" "HAMPSHIRE" with some of the following initials - WWT, IH, TB, LL

  • WWT could refer to William Turner of 62 High Street
  • IH is John Hockley of 35 High Street
  • TB represents Thomas Braman of 31-33 High Street
  • LL is thought to represent Lawrence Lamport, also of the High Street.

These tokens were the result of increased economic growth of Elizabethan England which brought about the circulation of more money. Wages were being paid in cash rather than goods and the number of shops and inns increased. The lack of coins for use as small change was a problem and as the introduction of an official coinage was affected by the Civil War, local traders produced their own. The majority of tokens found today are farthings, although halfpenny and penny values were produced.

The tokens usually carry the name of the issuer, the town, the arms or symbol of the trade, the initials of the issuer and often the date and value of the piece.