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1812 Birmingham Workhouse Token......

Nicholas

master brummie
While metal detecting this morning in South Staffordshire, I unearthed an example of the 1812 Birmingham Workhouse Token (depicted below). Without thinking, I had instantly plunged my example into a tub of olive oil (in order to clean it), on returning home, so I've had to 'borrow' a picture from online..... My example is in fairly good condition, but not as 'clean' as the one shown here:

 

edcartermo

master brummie
Makes one wonder how many poor souls have clutched one of those in their fist and what their story was. I don't know how this token system worked so I'm off to do a bit of Googling. Thanks for the

'spur', Nicholas.
 

edcartermo

master brummie
Here is an interesting link which explains the token system as well as offering a wealth of other detail:

https://www.workhouses.org.uk/Birmingham/

It has a birds eye view drawing, dated 1852, showing a maypole in the children's section; no doubt included to allow respectable citizens who paid their poorlaw taxes to sleep more comfortably at night.

It also mentions 'tramps' as a separate category, I imagine because they were homeless and so not necessarily the resposibility of the parish.

I once lived close to the Western Road complex and well into the 1960s there was a provision for 'tramps' who would gather around the entrance of a morning. Some were lucky enough to have sleeping accomodation

but were expected to keep reasonable hours. I don't know what the curfew was but it must have been well before the pubs turned out for I well remember one character that could never keep to the rules.

He would often be seen chortling his way down Western Road from the Birmingham Arms rattling a few pennies in his tin cup only to find that he had been locked out. He would hang about ringing on the bell at the iron

gate until some disgruntled warder let him in. I imagine they would keep him waiting to teach him a lesson but it never worked. He was always laughing though he was as blind as a bat, however he got across the Dudley

Road to get to the pub and then back again, I'll never know.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
The National archive money calculator says that £1 in 1810 was equivalent to £33-96 today. to be honest I was expecting the difference to be even greater
 

edcartermo

master brummie
The National archive money calculator says that £1 in 1810 was equivalent to £33-96 today. to be honest I was expecting the difference to be even greater
I don't understand economics at all, Mike, but it seems that it is not easy at all to make a comparison.

According to this site: https://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ £1-00 in 1810 would be worth £55-30 using retail price index or £740-00 by year 2010, using average earnings calculations.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Edcasrtermo
i agree it must be very difficult to make a true comparison, but i think your figure of £55.30 would be the more accurate in relationship to what a person could buy. Average earnings could not give any truely comparable figure . To my mind, considering the problems i don't think there is much difference between £55-30 and £33.96.
 

Nicholas

master brummie
I should possibly have mentioned previously that the farm on which the coin above was discovered is a sizable estate..... though two fields in particular have proven exceptionally 'fruitful' when it comes to finds. Over the entire region, we have discovered everything from a Roman Brooch to early 20th Cent. sixpences and shillings...... but the finds have proven relatively few and far between. On the two, aforementioned fields, however, the items discovered have been turning up 'thick and fast', resulting in a mixed-bag of objects, including many spoon fragments; a vast amount of copper coin; a pipe tamper; an Anglesey Mine Token (from the late 18th Cent); a Crystal Palace Token; decorative pieces of metalwork and so on. Why these two fields should contain such an array of items - and so 'thick on (in) the ground' - is anyones guess, but it seems clear that something must have specifically gone on in these particular spots (and relatively small areas, at that) as to merit such a high concentration of finds.......

With regards to the decorative metalwork mentioned, I have uncovered 5 pieces in total (two of which have been broken in two) - all of the same design:



The aforementioned pipe tamper was discovered within a few yards of the Brum Workhouse Token and is apparently a 'Mother and Child' design:



All the best to everyone as always...... and thank you for your comments.
 
W

Wendy

Guest
It seems there have been a lot of finds in Staffordshire close to the A5 like the "gold hoard". I suppose it's all about location as is today.
 
Makes one wonder how many poor souls have clutched one of those in their fist and what their story was. I don't know how this token system worked so I'm off to do a bit of Googling. Thanks for the

'spur', Nicholas.
Your comment about
'how many poor souls have clutched one of these . . their story'

Really hit me,
I had never thought of that as being so personal before as to each workhouse token I have in my collection.
 
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