If you need tokens -- and have few resources at hand -- then just cut up some sheet metal and stamp them out! This may seem easy to do, but in the 19th century the elders could not make a trip to the hardware store and buy sheets of metal. Hence, molding lead was the most available method.
But if your congregation was near an industrial center in the heyday of iron smelting, maybe you could find some hammered or rolled strips of metal from which to cut your tokens. It would be quick, and it would not require too much fuss. Also, if you were slim on resources, this might be the only way to go.
|Cut sheet-iron with a stamped S|
from Glassford parish -- an exigent
issue by the Free Church?
A parish church was erected there in 1820, replacing an older one from the 17th century. An extension church was also built in nearby Chapelton in 1839. But in 1843, much of the congregation at Chapelton moved out to form the Free Church. They had no roof to gather under, so they worshipped in the open air. For a time, a school was used. It was not until 1888 that a new church was erected.
Brook cataloged a small molded rectangle (10x8mm) from the first church at Glassford: it was a sunken panel piece engraved with KG for the parish (BK478). Kerr & Lockie added another piece to the catalog with KG on the obverse and 1763 on the reverse -- this one was square (KL113A).
Then, we have a series of irregularly cut pieces of sheet iron from the 19th century. Kerr & Lockie (1942) list seven (maybe eight) of them ranging in size from 12 to 21mm. One of them has no inscription. Four of them have GSS stamped in the metal -- interpreted as Glassford Sunday School -- with a number below: I, 1, 5, and 10 are listed. There is another piece with just a 10 and no letters. Also, there is one with just an S. Finally, there is a pieces with G/1822 on obverse and No 3 on reverse -- the composition is not mentioned (probably lead).
|Modern style CT from the Glassford|
Parish Church (from Burzinski).
So, which church used them? And why the exigent production?
The iron industry rapidly developed in the Glasgow region in the 1780s. One of the larger manufactories was the Clyde Iron Works that was established in Tollcross in 1786 -- just north of Glassford parish. But iron was widely available in the 1800s: there were over 200 iron works operating by mid-century. Sheet iron would not be hard to find by this time.
So, did the Free Church -- out in the cold, without resources -- avail themselves of this metal to produce some CTs? It is an interesting theory. The Kirk itself was well-established and used a nicely designed cut-rectangle in 1850 (BZ2809). But the FC had to make do: meeting in the open air and then in a school until a church was built in 1888.
Kerr & Lockie (1942) commented: "Glassford provides an example of the use of sheet-iron, though the crude pieces concerned appear to have been diverted from their original purpose to serve as communion tokens only in an emergency." In their subsequent article (1944) where they cataloged CTs of the Free Church, Glassford is not mentioned.
All this begs the question: Are the sheet-iron pieces from the FC? Or, was there an exigency that required a stopgap production of primitive CTs in the Kirk? Any thoughts?
***Please see the comments below. The origin of the sheet-iron tokens is still a mystery -- for example, what does the S mean? If you have anything to add, please step forward and share your thoughts.