Friday, November 22, 2013

Early Ovals

In my last post, I made an error.
One of the earliest ovals?
     I looked at the date on one of my communion tokens, and without pondering it further, or looking at my reference books (like Burzinski), I assumed that the date indicated the age of the token! Sounds reasonable, but as most seasoned CT collectors know, some dates reflect the founding of the church, or the election of a church official, or a significant change in the organization of the church.
     I should have known, as the token was well made and still had the sheen of newness that we find in mass produced pieces. It was an oval from Musselburgh in Lothians (B5106). On the reverse, the date was prominently centered: 1783. Burzinski made a notation that this was the date that the Millhill U.P. Church was erected. It is not clear when this CT was used, but given the thick letters and expert production, it appears to be a second-quarter nineteenth century piece.
     My thanks (again) to sunnyleith who reminded me of all this.
     This is my opportunity to invite you to provide comments as well. Remember that this blog is an exploration. Like most of you, I am a collector who is reading and discovering new things everyday. So please add a comment: Let me know what you are thinking!
     So, let us get to our topic. What are some of the earliest ovals out there? I took the afternoon to provide a few findings in this regard.
     Brook lists 12 ovals and pictures nine of them. Kerr & Lockie add two more and picture them both in their 1940-41 monograph aimed at updating Brook's listings. This adds up to 14 ovals cataloged before 1800 -- quite a small number.
     The earliest one that I found was BK257 (B1730) from Cumbernauld in Dunbarton. This one is an upright oval dated 1752 and measuring 27x24mm. Interestingly, this token also illustrates the very aspect that I mentioned above, as it provides an early date of 1650 to denote when the church was established. And, in this case, it says so -- hard to argue with that! Now that I have highlighted this CT, we all want one!
     A second early oval is a piece dated 1761 from Gargunnock in Stirling (BK454 or B2800). This one illustrates another aspect of early ovals that I mentioned in the previous post: it appears to be an out-of-round round with its slight dimensions of 25x24mm. Go ahead and say it three times, quickly: out-of-round round. For a similar piece (OORR) see BK986.
     Kerr & Lockie picture a primitive token that is distinctly oval at 24x19mm with no more than a T on the obverse from Torosay in Mull of the Inner Hebrides (KL288 or B6734). As I was looking this one up in Burzinski, I could not help but notice that another primitive oval (this one from England) was listed just below it -- it also was identified by a single incuse T (B6735-36 including a variety). And so it goes: the more we look; the more we find! 
     We are fortunate to have this fascinating hobby!

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