Overzicht van buitenlandse loodjes waarover iets bekend is.

Lead tickets and tokens

Figure 1 (not to scale)
Lead, as it is soft and prone to oxidisation, has rarely been used for coinage proper, and never in England. However, since it is cheap and easy to melt and cast, coin-like objects of lead, and sometimes also of pewter and tin, were widely produced in medieval times up to the nineteenth century. These lead pieces probably had a range of functions, perhaps a cheaper versions of reckoning counters and as token coinage in small scale dealings, and more certainly, as chits, tickets or passes. Ecclesiastical bodies used such tokens to register attendance at services. In most cases it is impossible to ascribe a particular function to these lead pieces.


From The Thames Foreshore

Medieval lead pieces come in a variety of forms. Among the commonest are the so-called 'Winetavern' or 'London Wall' tokens, dating to the late thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries. These are very thin and well-produced with pictorial designs (e.g. fig 1). Late medieval lead pieces were smaller but comparatively well made, employing pictorial and geometric pattern designs (e.g. fig 2). They seem to have been produced in hugh quantities, to judge from their survival rate. A number of moulds for their production have also survived.

Early sixteenth century tokens were larger and thicker, with distinctive designs. Some were based on medieval coin types; and some ecclesiastical issues can clearly be identified by references to liturgical Hours. The St Nicholas 'Boy' Bishop tokens of East Anglia, with their bishop's mitre design, relate to a religious festival, at least in inspiration.

Elizabethan tokens are usually small and dumpy and often have letters or designs which may have identified merchants, taverns or vocations. Seventeenth century pieces continue the practice of using initials, emblems or geometric patterns as their main designs. Their execution tended to become cruder towards the end of the century (fig 3), and if anything eighteenth century lead pieces are cruder still.

M. Michiner and A Skinner, 'English tokens c 1200 to 1425', British Numismatic Journal 53, 1983
M. Michiner and A Skinner, 'English tokens c 1425 to 1672', British Numismatic Journal 54, 1984



Lead tokens are not exactly scarce detector finds, but at the same time they are not something that you recover on every outing. Those dating to the 17th and 18th centuries are more numerous than the medieval or Tudor examples, but nevertheless each has a special place in our history.
Unfortunately, lead is a poor survivor both in terms of its softness (and therefore it might suffer damage in use), and also from its rapid oxidisation and decomposition in the ground. This begs the qustion as to why it enjoyed such widespread use by our ancestors, going back at the very least to Roman times. The answer is that it was cheap, readily available, easy to work, and had a low melting point. It was easy to mould or stamp with the most primitive of equipment, and if a mistake was made during manufacture the lead could go straight back into the melting pot to be recycled and used again.
Some of the known examples of 17th and 18th century tokens have initials on them, these occasionally being mirror-reversed. A rare few sometimes carry a date (ie 1694) usually with initials above.
Research has shown that these initials normally relate to the landowner, who would have originally owned and worked the property on which they were found. This carries the implication that they would have been given to casual farm workers as tallies for work carried out, and could have been used at the end of a period of time to purchase supplies from the landowner or be redeemed with him against coins of the realm. However, there are many lead tokens that, although they carry a variety of designs, do not have initials. Possibly these could have been used on a number of farms, within an area, as tallies or currency.
The whole situation, though, remains something of a mystery and perhaps we will never know the exact use of these pieces.

Information taken from an article on Early Lead Tokens in Treasure Hunting Magazine, February 1998.


7.3-9 Lead tokens, 4th century B.C. D.: 0.015-0.023 m. Athens, Agora Museum IL 656, 819, 893, 944, 1146, 1173, 1233.

Decorated with various images-a bow, a cow, a dolphin, crossed torches, rosette, Nike, a ship, as well as letters (E or K) - these small tokens were turned in for pay, allowing poor citizens to participate without losing a day's wages.










Loden Tessera uit de 3e / 2e eeuw voor Chr. Met op de voorzijde een Gorgoneionkop frontaal.
Op de keerzijde een hert staande naar links en daarboven een griekse tekst ("NED...")
Tesserae waren een soort tokens, die in de Oudheid o.a. fungeerden als entréfisches bij spelen, theater, badhuis e.d. Tekst en afbeelding uit september 2002 prijslijst G. Henzen, nr 4647.