TRADE TOKEN

Godalming Museum, ref: 1111

 

This was the Trade token of Henry May of Godalming. It had previously been assumed that the bottle-shaped picture on the token represented the sign of the Leathern Bottle pub. Recently, though, researchers at Guildford and Godalming Museums have identified the picture more accurately as being a 17th century doctor's urine jar or 'urynall'. Such bottles could have been manufactured in the local area, particularly around Chiddingfold, where there were many woodland glass kilns until the early 1600s.

The museum owns quite a number of these and later tokens, which served as unofficial money. In the mid-1600s, after the English Civil War, local trades people resorted to issuing tokens of low monetary value, to combat a shortage of small coinage. The tokens could be exchanged for goods and services. In the case of Henry May, tokens could be handed over in return for medical help or advice, which might involve the patient depositing their urine in the type of bottle shown, in order for the doctor to study it and make his diagnosis.

 

 

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