Whitehaven Farthing Token

I’m beginning to get my material together for The Shackletons of Whitehaven sequel which means gathering all the Whitehaven and district notes, emphemera, and objects I hope will inspire me. I have to say it’s a labour of love.

The Shackletons of Whitehaven

I’ve been rooting around in my shoe boxes and cupboards and I found this – a Whitehaven ship farthing. Having the initials “WB”, it’s possibly one of William Bragg’s who opened a grocery shop in Whitehaven in 1812. Maybe the tokens were part of a grand opening bonanza.

The cost of copper under George III rose in 1808 to £200 and coins became worth more melted down than in monetary value. This resulted in there being a shortage of small change which made it difficult for shopkeepers to carry out transactions and pay their employees. The solution to this was for shopkeepers to create tokens such as this one which were used from about 1811 until 1817 until the government banned them. There was an exception for some workhouses who were allowed to continue to use them until the 1820s to avoid hardship. They were generally only used in major industrial centres and that they were in use in Whitehaven indicates the importance of the port at that time. Hence the brig in full sail.*

Some tokens were used later for advertising and when Fergus Shackleton visits Dublin he’s handed Padraig Conran’s token. Suffice to say it comes in very useful later in the book.

*Withers, P and B. The Token book: British Tokens of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and their values.’Galata. 2022.

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