Named after a 17thCentury token house, a shop manufacturing and selling tokens that were sold during coin shortages and to provide small change for tradesmen at a time when there was no official coin under a penny. However the tokens were only redeemable in a few localised shops, although the system worked perfectly well for poorer customers and the tradespeople, in particular publicans, who used it. In 1634 Lord Maltravers, whose father’s home was on the site of Tokenhouse Yard, was granted a patent by Charles I allowing him to officially control the tokens and their distribution. This proved highly lucrative as traders were forced to spend more on the token than their face value. The Token House remained until 1672, when Charles II issued the first copper coins and proclaimed that anyone found using tokens “were to be chastised with exemplary severity”.
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