Monday, June 17, 2013

Common Tokens can be Great too

CTs do not have to be expensive to have great stories. I would hate to think that the market watchers gain the impression that only HD and D tokens are worth having. No way!
     What if I were to tell you that common CTs (and inexpensive too) can be purchased directly from the church that issued them over 200 years ago. And what if the token was handcrafted and steeped in a deep patina. These bits are out there for the collector who appreciates relics that look the part. Of course I am talking about the lot of tokens being sold by the Balquhidder Church. Word has it that they were discovered years ago in a biscuit tin. In 2003, the tokens were put on sale in local gift shops along with a leaflet detailing the history of the church; it was a fund-raiser by the Church. You could choose between tokens dated 1720 or 1778. Many were sold, and the promotion slowed for awhile until it was jump-started again this year: the friends of the church are selling what is left to help pay for repairs to the belfry and bell.
     Last week, I purchased one of the 1778 tokens (B712) from Rosphilda Crafts located in Balquhidder. It was an ebay listing. This sort of offering is not unusual, as many church inventories are scooped up and placed on the market as part of various promotions.
     So what do you get for $15?
     The token is an early form of the cut (corners) rectangle. In fact, the cut rectangle did not become widely popular until the 1840s, so it is unusual to find such an early example. It is an ultra-thin piece that is cut from rolled or hammered stock. The lettering and date is neatly done around the edges, all engraved by the unknown hands of a craftsman.
     The Balquhidder parish church that actually used the token stands in ruins -- it was built in 1631. The ruin stands adjacent to the new church that was constructed in 1853. Balquhidder was the home to Rob Roy McGregor, the folk hero who feuded with the MacLaren clan. Basically, he was an outlaw; he even stole the church bell according to some tales. Rob Roy was buried in the old parish yard -- his gravestone is a tourist attraction. On the other end of the spectrum, the royal Stewart family is descendant from Balquhidder. It is reported that James IV once visited the old church.
     To hold a CT such as this and contemplate the ruins is an enchantment that I highly recommend.

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