Canada’s Ships, Colonies & Commerce Tokens
246 x 189mm
Imperial Designs is the first entirely new study of the Ships, Colonies and Commerce tokens of Canada in 100 years. Its aim is to deepen appreciation of a common nineteenth century token which circulated widely in the Canadas, the Maritimes and Newfoundland as yet another remedy for the problem of small change which plagued British North America.
The tokens were struck in the tens and tens of thousands and must have passed, over and over again, through hundreds of thousands of hands: the hands of clerks, woodsmen, washerwomen, servants, merchants, innkeepers, sailors, and artisans of all description. In fact, they must have passed through the hands of every member – high or low – of a colonial society that one can imagine.
Their simplicity of design, with a ship on one side and the legend on the other (which gives the series its name), lent the tokens an enviable currency. The ship symbolised the primary means of transportation which tied the British North American colonies both to one another and to their mother country. Throughout the nineteenth century, the words ‘ships, colonies and commerce’ had a wide popular appeal and an almost magical authority.
As they passed from hand to hand, these tokens not only circulated a store of value (nominally a halfpenny), they also helped to circulate an idea of empire and the primary means by which that idea was secured. One of the most common of Canadian tokens is also one of the most socially and culturally important.
Imperial Designs: Canada's Ships, Colonies and Commerce Tokens by Christopher Faulkner
- Product Code: SPK Books 5213
- Availability: In Stock