Ely & District Archaeological Society
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Monday 16 May 2022 –Gary Oddie

Monday 16 May 2022 - Gary Oddie
500 Years of Ely Tokens


This talk will begin with a brief introduction to the study of coins in general and local tokens. These are coin-like objects, sometimes serving as replacements for coins, but with many other uses, depending on the issuer’s needs. This will be followed by a description of three groups of tokens that have been produced in Ely. In the sixteenth century the cathedral issued lead tokens in the name of St Nicholas. These are often referred to as Boy Bishop tokens, though there is no evidence to connect the tokens to the feast of the Boy Bishop. In the seventeenth century a chronic shortage of officially issued small change resulted in many traders issuing their own tokens in brass and copper. Nineteen tradesmen and innkeepers from Ely issued their own tokens, three of which will be described in detail. Subsequent issues of tokens cover more diverse topics ranging from Ely co-op dividend checks to lead tokens whose issuer and use cannot yet be determined. A short final section will look at the coins issued at the Maundy Ceremony held at Ely Cathedral in 1987. (If anyone attending the talk has any tokens, especially from the local area, they are welcome to bring them along for identification and discussion)


Gary Oddie was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire and has been collecting coins and tokens from a very young age. Following a degree in Physics from York University, and a PhD in Fluid Engineering and Instrumentation from Cranfield Institute of Technology, Gary spent 24 years working in the oil industry as a scientific advisor and carrying out research in fluid mechanics. He took early retirement in 2020. He has written one book “Bedfordshire Seventeenth Century Tokens” completing the work of the late John Gaunt and has helped organize four Token Congresses, given many talks and lectures, and published many articles and notes. Further books on "Cambridgeshire Seventeenth Century Tokens", "St Nicholas Money" and "Farm Checks of the Fens" are in preparation. .