Low Hall Colliery Token
Low Hall Colliery Token
Low Hall Colliery Token

Low Hall Colliery Token

1797 England

Offered by Baggott Church Street Ltd

£345 gbp
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Listing Information
A rare, copper token with, to the face, the impression of a man and a horse working the gin at the shaft entrance of a pit and on the obverse, inscribed Low Hall Colliery 1797. These tokens were a safe way of accounting for the movement of coal from the pits to the ships and represented promissory notes, avoiding the need for the exchange of money on delivery of the coal. Reputedly only about 200 of these tokens were ever produced. One is now housed in the British Museum.
English, 1797
Diameter 2.8cm
Stock No. 1545
Colliery Tokens were introduced as a means of accounting the movement of coal from the pits to the ships, representing work done rather than a means of payment. Sir John Lowther of Whitehaven was recorded as using them in as early as 1670, with similar tokens being used well into the 19th century. They had no intrinsic value of their own, although some did get into circulation as pennies, half pennies or farthings according to their relative sizes.

Low Hall Colliery was near the township of Hensingham, Whitehaven, where, over a period of 300 years, around 70 coal pits were sunk. Although there are references to coal mining in the area in the 13th century, it was Sir John Lowther who further developed and subsequently monopolised the coal trade after his family bought the manor of St. Bees in 1630. It was the Lowther family who began the redevelopment of the Whitehaven harbour, primarily to export coal. The stone, Old Quay, that survives to this day was built by Sir Christopher Lowther in 1631-34. It appears that the land upon which the Low Hall Colliery was sunk in Hensingham was leased to the Lawson family in 1736 by Sir James Lowther and in 1798, owned by one of the leading Cumberland landowners of the time, Sir Wilfred Lawson, 10th Baronet of Isell MA (Cantab), 1764-1806. There is no evidence of when the mine closed, although, in 'Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society’ (Volume 15 no. 2-1915) it is stated: ‘…Low Hall Colliery, in the township of Hensingham, in the Scalegill Colliery area, formerly belonged to Sir Wilfred Lawson. It has long been abandoned, probably 100 years ago’.

A gin or a horse machine was a manner of working the coal pits and bringing coal from the mine before the introduction of steam. Close to the mouth of the pit-shaft, a horse would be attached to the mechanism that turned a large wheel placed horizontally about its head and, by walking around in circles, would operate a pulley system that lowered and raised baskets coal.
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Baggott Church Street Ltd

Baggott Church Street Ltd
Church Street
GL54 1BB

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