No groaning, please. You may have seen this stater on a previous occasion, but many haven’t.
When I was a rather inexperienced detectorist and found my first gold stater, I simply thought, “That looks rather nice,” and stowed it away in the pocket of my jeans.
The use of the word ‘first’ suggests that there may have been more. I live in hope! With the benefit of hindsight and if a second is ever found, a ‘detector dance’ will be executed and ( I wrote at the time), the precious coin placed carefully and snugly inserted between two layers of foam in an old baccy tin, then tucked in the zipped compartment of my finds’ pouch. Time to phone Securicor to escort me home. If I want to show anybody in the field, it’ll take more extracting than an over-packaged Tesco tea bag. Aye, that all comes with experience and learning. Even though I exaggerate a tad, you will understand my meaning.
Over the years I have regurgitated the next piece of advice in different forms and on many occasions. When you start detecting, ALL FINDS, whether gold or glass should be regarded as interestingly significant in their own way and should be treated as such. DON’T DISCARD ANYTHING until your knowledge has increased and you are absolutely 100% sure that it is the dross you originally thought it was. Although it embarrasses me to relate the tale now, I confess to discarding a large fragment of La Tène brooch thinking it as just another piece of old metal; so I do speak with some authority on the subject.
Around that time I wrote about an advertising token found by a detectorist named Vic. The token was advertising quack remedies, the ‘Anodyne Necklace’ and ‘Famous Sugar Plumbs’. These are more like advertising medalets instead of tokens. Viv’s find became the catalyst for interesting research and understanding of a piece of social history. This was his find:
The token was usually made of copper, sometimes white metal, about the size of an old halfpenny and with a hole for suspension of the enterprising ‘health’ product around the neck . It reminds me of those copper magnetic bangles for the relief of rheumatism sold today. The reverse is much clearer than the obverse and reads: “BASIL BURCHELL * SOLE PROPRIETOR OF THE ANODYNE NECKLACE FOR CHILDREN CUTTING TEETH”. I have ‘borrowed’ a token from the Bay that is easier to read.
Although they were usually deliberately pierced (pre-drilled) to enable them to be attached to Burchell’s products as a guarantee of their authenticity, the token shown above is almost pristine and unsullied. Since it has not been holed for attachment to a peony root necklace or to a bag of sugar plums, I am presuming some like this were struck and left like this for collectors.
The remedies were quite expensive at about five shillings, two week’s wages at that time, yet very popular. ‘Anodyne’ was, I understand, the name of the firm, but the word can also be used as an adjective, meaning ‘to relieve pain’. That’s not a coincidence.
Sugar Plumbs and that Necklace
I must admit that I didn’t understand what ‘sugar plumbs’ were, but after a little snooping (research is too posh a word) that kind man Mr Google came to the rescue. “The necklaces possibly consisted of beads of peony wood that could be sucked by teething children. The ‘sugar-plumbs’ (think sugared almonds) were made with the active ingredient being lead acetate, which probably caused more harm to the children than the worms!”
Burchell reckoned that children would also eat his ‘Worm-destroying Cake’ just as they would a common sugar plumb. Yes, this quack medicine were supposed to purge worms.The obverse of the token reads: BASIL BURCHELL * SOLE PROPRIETOR OF THE FAMOUS SUGAR PLUMBS FOR WORMS No. 79 * LONG ACRE”. Edge inscription: THIS IS NOT A COIN BUT A MEDAL .
That last phrase is interesting for in this way, proprietors were able to avoid incurring the wrath of the authorities whilst simultaneously appropriating the credibility associated with official coinage. There is a much more detailed explanation on the Anatomy Lab by Dr Iain Macleod. Here’s a small extract to whet your appetite:
Such tokens became common during the 18th Century and were often used as money, particularly when there was an inadequate supply of legal currency in small denominations. Eventually, Parliament tried to regain control by producing a copper penny and two-pence coin in 1797 and from 1818, prohibited the production of “exclusive” tokens as currency.Dr. Iain Macleod
Sam Johnson – Piers Morgan of the day?
Dr Samuel Johnson was critical of the growth in advertising and of the methods which were beginning to be used to appeal to the public. He accused the Anodyne advertisement which warned every mother that she would never forgive herself if her infant should perish without the necklace, of trying to scare mothers into buying the product (a tactic not unknown today).
Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer.Wikipedia
Vic’s finding of a copper disk with a hole has taken us on an interesting and illuminating journey with the added bonus of a little insight into some of Britain’s best-known and long-lived domestic remedies.
United Kingdom Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) * Vic the Detectorist
eBay * Dr. Iain Macleod * The Anatomy Lab * Baldwin’s Coin Auction
BBC * NGC Registry * Surgeons’ Hall Museum * The Copper Corner
Collector’s Society * The Token Society * CoinTalk * QuoteSoup
Quack Doctor * Science Museum * Food History Jottings * Galata
Wellcome Foundation * Biblio * Picclick *