This is a really cool old copper trade token. Issued by John Bishop & Company of Cheltenham (in Gloucestershire, England), it reads 'A POUND NOTE FOR 240 TOKENS GIVEN BY JOHN BISHOP & CO. CHELTENHAM 1812' on the obverse. The reverse shows an image of Saint Mary's church. Before decimalisation in 1971 (when 100 pennies became equal to one pound), there were twenty shillings to a pound. Each shilling equaled twelve pence -- so there were a total of 240 pence in one pound.
In the 18th and 19th century, it wasn't unusual for regional businesses to issue their own 'coinage' when there was a shortage of actual currency. It is important to note, however, that tokens like this one weren't necessarily meant to replace government-issued coinage; although many of these tokens have a monetary value included on them, the intent was that they would be used towards purchasing goods from a specific retailer or merchant.
Records show that John Bishop was a linen draper (cloth merchant) in London, but it is unclear when or why the business would've been moved to Cheltenham. It is an interesting token nonetheless. Because so many different merchants issued trade tokens with similar denominations and themes, most of them aren't very valuable unless they are in better condition. Here are some approximate values for this token:
COPPER TOKEN (ONE PENNY):
Worn: $10 US dollars approximate catalog value
Average circulated: $20
Well preserved: $50
Fully uncirculated: $175
The copper token in our main picture comes from Spink in London, where it sold for 65 British pounds (about $100) during a 2011 auction. It would probably sell for more than that today.
The silver version of this token is even more valuable. Our secondary picture shows a nice example (also from Spink). Catalog values run like this:
SILVER TOKEN (ONE SHILLING):
Worn: $30 US dollars approximate catalog value
Average circulated: $80
Well preserved: $140
Fully uncirculated: $300
Please note that all values on this page are approximate catalog values. Be sure you understand how catalog values work. They are inflated values that are normally higher than actual buy and sell values. Refer to our Terminology page for a complete description of catalog values.