The exhibition, which runs from Tuesday 22nd March until Saturday 2nd July, tells the stories of men and women in Norwich who issued tokens during the currency crisis following the English Civil War. These small discs of metal may only have been worth a farthing – a quarter of a penny – but they can be beautiful, tiny works of art.
Seventeenth century Britain, like many other societies throughout history, often suffered from an acute shortage of small change. Today, in an era of plentiful banknotes and coinage, not to mention debit and credit cards and online payments, this problem may be difficult to understand. But to people trying to carry out transactions when there was simply not enough low-value currency to go around it was a very real issue.
By the time that Charles I was executed in 1649, England found itself in a currency crisis. The solution? Local traders had their own money or, more correctly, token money, produced.
Among the stories of Norwich people told through the trade tokens is that of Augustine Briggs, a wealthy grocer who went on to become Sheriff, then Mayor of Norwich. His fine memorial is still to be seen in the church of St. Peter Mancroft.
This exciting new exhibition is curated by Numismatist, Adrian Marsden, who said:
‘These little tokens were produced in the Norwich of three centuries ago and so it’s appropriate that this exhibition should be hosted at the Museum of Norwich. I’m pleased to be able to bring them to the attention of today’s Norwich citizens and hope that they will offer something for everyone.’
The exhibition programme comprises a number of family-friendly activities including a design your own token competition over the school holidays as well as talks from the curator, all free with usual museum admission.
Exhibition Programme details:
- 17th Century Traders’ Tokens: How Norwich Men and Women Made Their Own Money is open Tuesday-Saturday from Tuesday 22nd March until Saturday 2nd July, free with museum admission.
- Holiday activities for all the family relating to the exhibition will take place during the Easter holidays and May half term, including a museum trail and a ‘Design your own Trade Token’ competition.
- Lunchtime talks about the Norfolk trade tokens will be given by the exhibition curator on 24th March, 28th April, 26th May all at 1.30pm, all free with museum admission.
For more information contact:
Jenny Caynes , Curator of Community History
Adrian Marsden, Numismatist
Notes to Editors:
Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell
Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell is part of Norfolk Museums Service, a multi award winning service comprising ten museums and a study centre. It is one of only 21 Major Partner Museums in the country receiving substantial revenue investment from Arts Council England. The service was set up in 1974 and is a partnership of city, county and district councils in Norfolk working together, through the Joint Museums Committee, to manage museums and heritage services across the county. It is funded through council tax, earned income and grants. For more information call 01603 629127 or visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/