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.
For examples of prints published by Hood see here, here and here.
John Staral said:
Very interesting post! Keep up the great work!
Do you have an opinion if David Hood might have sold the print illustrated in the following link?
My (my wife and I are hoping!) potential future daughter-in-law studied at Cambridge, so I purchased this print as a future gift for her. I was just wondering if the token might be related and an appropriate additional acquisition to frame with the print.
Along a separate line, do you happen to know what Gillray’s Andrew Edmunds is offering as part of the Frieze Masters this year?
Dr. John S. Staral Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (mobile): 651-324-5633 Sent from my iPad Air
It’s possible but perhaps unlikely given that the print in question was published a decade or so before Hood is known to have been in business. The collaboration with S.W. Fores suggests that if he stocked caricatures at all then they were likely to have come from Fores’ shop rather than Humphrey’s. The token would still make a nice gift though!
I’m afraid I don’t know what prints Andrew Edmunds is planning to offer up this year.
Very cool. Thanks as always for these posts, I do love them.