Here is an interesting and rather unusual example of a printseller using conder tokens as form of advertising. As we’ve previously discussed on the Printshop Window, conder tokens started out in the late 1780s as a form of private coinage used to pay factory and mill workers living in more remote locations. As the coins were usually only redeemable at sores owned by the worker’s employer, they essentially provided unscrupulous employers with a means of further reducing their labour costs by forcing employees to return a portion of their wages in exchange for goods. Over time conder tokens began to take on a life of their own as a cheap, durable, medium for advertising and as collectors items in their own right.
This coin was one of two known designs to have been minted for the Cambridge printseller David Hood. The second design, which seems to have survived in far fewer numbers, carries a coat of arms which the British Museum catalogue speculates may have belonged to a manufacturer named Richard Orchard who had commercial interests in London and Hertfordshire. The obverse face of the coin is stamped with a wheat sheaf surrounded by the words ‘Peace, Plenty & Liberty’. As the token is not dated it is difficult to interpret the precise meaning of the design. ‘Peace, bread and liberty’ was a popular slogan amongst English Jacobins during the early 1790s and a token carrying this design would mark Hood out as a political radical. However the conclusion of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 also sparked a rash of prints, ceramics and other bric-a-brac celebrating the return of peace and prosperity. Personally, I suspect that the latter interpretation is more likely in this instance and have dated the coin accordingly.
Hood was a Cambridge publisher and printseller who seems to have specialised in views of the city and the university in particular. One assumes that these items were intend to appeal to students or alumni who’d been sent up to the university, or those with an interest in its medieval architecture. Hood’s surviving prints suggest that he was active during the late 1790s and early 1800s and formed links with the major London print publishers, including the satirical printseller S.W. Fores.