The above copper farthing token measures 15.9 mm (maximum) and weighs 0.82 grams. It was issued in 1661 by a tradesman operating from premises at or by the sign of the Bush or Tree in Fore Street in the Parish of St. Giles Without Cripplegate.
The design of the token may be formally described as follows;
Obverse: (rosette) THOMAS. WHITE, around a twisted wire inner circle, within a depiction of a Tree or Bush with the date numerals 16 & 61 either side.
Reverse: (rosette) IN.FORE.STREET, around twisted wire inner circle, within the initials T W plus two rosettes above and below.
This particular token is oddly shaped. It should be round but is far from it. Instead it appears to have been struck on a roughly square or diamond shaped blank with rounded ends. It is possible that this is the result of the blanks, on which the token was struck, being cut from an undersized strip of sheet copper.
There is no mention of a White family in Fore Street in the 1666 Hearth Tax returns. By this date it is possible that Thomas may have left the area or he and his family could have fallen victim to the Great Plague of 1665.
A search of parish registers for the area has failed to identify any entries in the name of Thomas “White” around this period. However, references do exist to a Thomas “Quait” which is an accepted alternative spelling of this surname at this period. Thomas Quait of St. Giles Cripplegate married Joan Whitlock in the neighbouring parish church of Saint Michael’s Bassishaw, London on 13th February 1657/8. Thomas is elsewhere recorded as a Cordwainer (i.e. a shoe maker). It is by no means certain that Thomas Quait of St. Giles Without Cripplegate is synonymous with Thomas White of Fore Street in 1661. If they are the same person it is interesting why only his initials appears on the reverse of his token instead of the triad of both his and his wife’s initials. One obvious answer to this could be that by 1661 his wife was no-longer living.
Previous authors have officially recorded the image on the obverse of this token as a tree. However, in Bryant Lillywhite’s extensive survey “London Signs” (published in 1972) there is no reference of the emblem of the “tree” being used in London as a tradesman’s sign. However, the sign of the “bush” was very popular in London during this and earlier periods as a tavern sign or as a sign denoting a place where liquor was obtainable.