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Wilkerson coins / tokens from 1700's.....

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What is the history on these? What was the reason for making them? Did the commemerate something or were they used as a form of money? I know John Wilkerson was a master Iron worker... and that these are British... but what else can anybody tell me about these?

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As mentioned Wilkinson was a master iron worker and his iron works were a major industry in Shropshire England (Dalton & Hamer listed him as being in Warwickshire, but that was an error.) Being a large employer he had the problem of trying to acquire sufficient coinage to pay his employees. Now in 1787 this was no small challenge. For all practical purposes the government had not issued ANY coinage since 1775. Since most workers were earning a couple shillings a week, small denomination copper coinage was the most needed coins by the common man. And at least half, if not more, of the coppers in circulation were also counterfeits that were only accepted at a discount.


Into this mess, John Wilkinson began having his own full weight copper tokens produced and he used those to pay his people. Since these tokens contained full value of copper they were gladly accepted not just by his people and internally, but also by all of the local merchants as well. After all, everyone knew Wilkinson. In fact they were so well accepted that the counterfeiters began making fake Wilkinson tokens as well.


Wilkinson produced tokens in 1787, 88, 90, 92, 93, & 95 showing the iron forge, and 1790, 91, &92 showing Vulcan at the anvil. There are close to 400 different varieties. Somewhere between 25 to 33% of these varieties are actually contemporary counterfiets. (There is also a modern counterfeit that was circa the 1950's.) Most of the counterfeits can be easily identified by misspellings of Wilkinsons name.


Both design types were engraved by John Hancock of Birmingham. The forge type was struck for Wilkinson by Matthew Boulton. The Vulcan type was struck by Hancock. Unfortunately mintage figures are only know for a few issues. While some varieties are rare, nice examples are readily available. I just picked up a Proof specimen last month.


The John Wilkinson who produced the tokens is NOT the John Wilkinson of razor blade fame.


The token pictured by Brucewar is D&H 436 and it is a common variety.


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