When I found this token on eBay back in 2013 or 2014, it was a total mystery to me, just as it had been for the seller who came across it and brought it home in 2009. But that mystery is exactly WHY
I bought it...I'm sure many of my fellow exonumismaniacs know that impulse well.
Over the last six years of periodic fits of research, I've been able to tentatively establish that it's a manorial token
issued by John Harvey of Dane Court, Tilmanstone, Deal, Kent, in the temporal neighborhood of 1720-1750. Dane Court was a large manor dating back to the middle of the 13th century, and at various times there were up to three "houses" on the grounds there. At least one of those manor houses remains to this day and is now carved into flats for rent and condos for sale.
This token is 24mm in diameter at its broadest, so probably meant to serve as either a large farthing or a small halfpenny, and it was obviously struck without a collar. The woodgrain effect is fascinating to me, but I have no idea what it tells us about how the piece was struck. (Or was it poured?).
No one catalogues these things in any detail, apparently, but that statement may just be presumptuous on my part, since I couldn't find any catalogues devoted to (or that even include
) manorial tokens. Although I have stumbled across this particular token in a couple of ancient numismatics tomes, like Batty (1877), it's always been just a strictly literal description, without identification, attribution, or background -- geographical or otherwise.
So, purely numismatic research has been pretty much futile. Perhaps if I lived on the correct side of the Atlantic Ocean...
In any event, I'm assigning a confidence level of .85 to my attribution, drawing on my research into all sorts of relevant primary sources: heraldry references, genealogical databases, land ownership records, museum findings, gravestones, etc. That leftover .15 represents the nontrivial chance that I missed or misinterpreted a clue somewhere along the line and have the whole thing entirely wrong. For example, there were other Dane Courts in England, and even in Kent (Sandwich and Canterbury jump off the page), but only the one in Tilmanstone was owned for a time by someone whose initials were I.H. - and I couldn't find any such properties associated with anyone initialed H.I.
The real mystery to me is the whole concept of a "manorial token." Were they disbursed as salary? Payment for game or vegetables, or goods and services? Are they gaming counters? What was their purpose, their uses? How and where were they spent?
Please follow up with a reply if you have the same token, or further clues, or a citation to a reference work in which it appears...or if you just like the look.
Thanks, everybody, and wash your hands!