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Coins and Medals
Brass advertising token issued by John Kirk
London, England, 18th century AD
A metal worker advertises his business
In Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries manufacturers and retailers commonly made use of coin-like tokens stamped in base metals, to advertise themselves and their wares. This example was issued by John Kirk, a shopkeeper and metal worker, who ran an engraving and die stamping business from St Paul's Churchyard in London.
Kirk's token describes the sort of goods he sold in his shop. Among other things he made dies (metal stamps) for tickets, tokens, toys, keys, coat and sleeve buttons, seal handles and ornaments for jewellers' work. The British Museum also has a metal admission ticket made by Kirk for Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens in its collections.
Toy makers and silversmiths like Kirk, whose production was based on novelties and small luxury objects, attempted to arouse curiosity by giving a 'shop window' quality to their advertising tokens. Kirk revealed his shop's richness through this advertisement. The brass token shows a shop interior, with a customer being served by a female shop attendant who is demonstrating toys for sale.
L. Forrer, Biographical dictionary of m-1, vol. 3 (London, Spink, 1907)