Pidcock’s exhibition – 1800 copper farthing token from Britain

Pidcock's exhibition

This delightful elephant came to me at the coin fair the other week. The token is 21mm and 2.35g. And I googled and found this description on Yale British Art site – it seems my exact one! I’ve requested the photograph.

It’s a copper farthing token issued 1800 by Pidcock’s Exeter ‘Change Menagerie and made by Charles  James.  I’ve heard that the engravers didn’t see the actual elephants so they anatomy isn’t quite right. But they’ve created a lively animal, feeding perhaps. On the other side is a bird-of-prey.

“Undated copper Conder farthing token. The obverse depicts an elephant, with the text “Pidcock’s Exhibition.” The reverse depicts a bird of prey, with “Exeter Change, Strand, London.” Pidcock was the proprietor of the Exeter ‘Change Menagerie and importer of foreign animals. The business later passed to Gilbert Pidcock, and the tickets issued by both men were trade tokens advertising the menagerie and passed for small change in circulation. Charles James made the Pidcock tokens when he was in London in his second period, 1795-1801 at the address No. 6 Martlett Court, Bow Street London. Lutwych struck a series for Pidcock’s menagerie in 1800 but used the service of James as an engraver and diesinker. Lutwych was the manufacturer in Birmingham.

The token appears to be the same as that described as item no. 365 in James Conder’s An arrangement of provincial coins, tokens, and medalets, issued in Great Britain, Ireland, and the colonies, within the last twenty years … 1799.

The Morning Chronicle of May 17, 1808, noted: “The grandest spectacle in the universe is now prepared at Pidcock’s Royal Menagerie, Exeter Change, Strand, where a most uncommon collection of foreign beasts and birds, many of them never before seen alive in Europe, are ready to entertain the wondering spectators. This affords an excellent opportunity for Ladies and Gentlemen to treat themselves with a view of some of the most beautiful and rare animals in creation. Amongst innumerable others are five noble African lions, tigers, nylghaws, beavers, kangaroos, grand cassowary, emus, ostriches etc. Indeed such a numerous assemblage of living birds and beasts may not be found for a century. This wonderful collection is divided into three apartments, at one shilling each person, or the three rooms for two shillings and sixpence each person.”

Creator Pidcock’s Royal Menagerie (London, England)
Contributors James, Charles, (Diesinker)
Lutwyche, William

Thank you The Yale Center for British Art

Pidcock, Dealer in Birds and Beasts

Pidcock, Dealer in Birds and Beasts

Creator Thomas Rowlandson, 1756–1827, British
Title Pidcock, Dealer in Birds and Beasts
Alternate Title(s) Bound Volume of 15, Original Water Colour Drawings, by Thomas Rowlandson
Date undated
Medium Watercolor with pen and brown ink, over graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream, wove paper

Thank you The Yale Center for British Art

About Julian Ticehurst

Curiouser and curiouser

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