Here is a post that comes from our newest blog member. Welcome David.
I have been stimulated to give some thought as to what constitutes'desirability' in this field of collecting. Apart from collectors who pursuea thematic approach, such as collecting tokens of a particular region, religious denomination or diversity of scriptural quotations, that whichdetermines the acquisitive drive for the generalist collector is probably acombination of rarity, aesthetic appeal and an associated interesting history or story. Rarity, as has been noted before in the blog, is oftenuncertain, as it is a judgement usually based on the frequency with which a token appears in the market place, knowledge very much dependent on theexperience and vigilance of the collector. The regular market reports of this blog assist in making such assessments. Aesthetic appeal is a compositeof design, shape, metallic composition, condition and legends. The storiesconnected with a particular token or its church form the other component ofthis trilogy. Individual collectors will give their own weightings to eachof these elements. Two nineteenth-twentieth century Scottish tokens already noted by previouscontributors may serve to illustrate these issues. There is generalagreement that the two St Kilda Free Church tokens are rare. This assessment is based on the knowledge that they served a very small population for whomchurch attendance was virtually mandatory. They are seldom offered for sale:BZ 6482 has appeared rarely, an example fetching a high price when sold onebay in July 2014, but I have not seen BZ 2277 (with legends in Gaelic) offered for sale. The latter token reflects the native language of the St.Kildans - very few spoke English. The tokens were the subject of a briefpaper by Henry Garside published in Spink's Numismatic Circular in 1916 (Vol. 24, pp. 37-38), where they were described as "two very rare communiontokens in the National Collection, British Museum". A fine example of a token with much aesthetic appeal is that of Glenapp (BZ2896). This token, while not of the same order of rarity as the St Kildatokens, is nevertheless scarce and eagerly sought. It is one of few tokens struck in bronze, its singular design was created by the architect who alsoremodelled the picturesque Glenapp church, and its symbols of Paschal Lambon the obverse and Celtic Trinitarian trefoils on the reverse, offer scopefor religious reflection. I recall reading that a minister of the churchused its iconography for a sermon. The style of trefoil on the token isreproduced on the Celtic decoration of the Church's lectern. Unattributed tokens have collector appeal, not only on account of theirprobable rarity, but because they also offer scope for research and reverie.If they are also unpublished, there is scope to make a small contribution to the corpus of knowledge. It is not uncommon to come across unattributedtokens of the eighteenth century or earlier, but quite unusual to find oneof a later period. I include images of a token dated 1837 (see token picture above) that Ihave been unable to locate in any published reference. In style it issimilar to a Free Church of Scotland token of St Luke's Church, Edinburgh,dated 1852 (BZ7596), although the rectangular shape accommodates the designhorizontally rather than vertically. I understand the congregation thatbecame St Luke's had its origins in 1836, their church being knownoriginally as the Young Street Chapel. I am wondering whether this 1837issue may be a surviving token of Young Street Chapel. Perhaps the majority of tokens were destroyed after the presumably later but undated issue cameinto use, these new tokens being stamped 'St. Luke's Church, Young Street,Edinburgh' (BZ 2342). When the congregation joined the Free Church afterthe Disruption in 1843, tokens picturing their new church building resultedin the attractive issue dated 1852. Only two rectangular shaped Free Churchtokens are noted by Kerr and Lockie (PSAS, LXXIX, p. 27), one being that ofSt Luke's Free Church, perhaps lending some support to the possibility that this last issue may have reverted to the prototype provided by the 1837tokens, perhaps for sentimental or other reasons. The 1837 token is of whitemetal and measures 28 x 18 mm. Identifying the building it portrays, or some documentary evidence, would clearly be of value in attributing thetoken to a particular church. A very large print of the whole city of Edinburgh, circa 1860, drawn from anelevated perspective, shows a building on the southern side of Young Street,very similar to that portrayed on the token. I reproduce a small segment ofthe print (see above) greatly magnified. The building in question is that in the centre of the image. I would value any help in confirming or dismissing this tentative attribution of the token to Young Street Chapel.