New collectors immediately notice the difference. They are thick, often chunky, with slightly rounded edges and soft lettering. They are cast lead! Just like a fishing lure.
We have seen a few in the blog with deeply incused figures. This was the easy way to make a token: cast a shape and impress it with a few initials or a date. This production method was time-intensive and did not produce identical tokens.
|A stone mold for single-|
sided square from Salton
as illustrated in Brook.
These backyard, or should I say churchyard, manufactures are romanticized by collectors. Handmade and primitive is a style nowadays. But back in the day, it was an expediency. Even the hired blacksmith or plumber probably struggled to make these diminutive objects. Shaping a clasp or stave or shoe was much easier -- these objects paid the rent.
|An iron or brass pair of molds pictured|
in Brook. Four pins (at corners) keep
the molds in alignment.
Lead was widely available in Scotland. It was relatively cheap. It was soft, malleable and had a low melt temperature. Perfect for CTs and fishing lures. Tin was added in the mix to produce a harder alloy. And of course, there were likely to be some impurities present just to make things interesting on the finished token -- like an unexpected fissure or an odd spot or two.
A few early CT molds have survived and now reside in museums. I have not seen any them up close and personal. But there is a chance to see, touch and possess a CT mold coming up in the Bob Merchant auction described in previous blogs. This two-sided mold is quite interesting, as seen in the photos provided by Simmons Gallery.
|Lot 1154 is a lead/zinc pair of molds from Duirness that is|
part of the Bob Merchant collection. This auction closes
next month on October 15th. Please note that this photo
is copyrighted by Simmons Gallery.
This is certainly a relic worthy of a museum. But collectors will have a shot at it: it listed as Lot 1154. It is one of last lots in the auction that closes on October 15th. The reserve value is 500 BPs (or about $800); the estimate is twice this amount. The mold comes from Duirness Kirk in the northern shire of Sutherland. As you can see, it produces a straight rectangle (B2095).