Thursday, May 12, 2011

Photos St. Patrick's Avenue group / Athy Trade Tokens

This week as I celebrated a birthday shared with my school friend Billy Browne I received from Diarmuid MacCarthy, formerly of St. Patrick’s Avenue and now of Dublin, a photograph of young boys and girls taken in that avenue in the early to mid 1950s.  Many of the young faces I recognise, but not all.  The photograph was obviously taken on a bright sunny summers day and looking at the young Pat Timpson I think it could date from the summer of 1953 or 1954.  Cast your memory back 55 years or more and see how many of the youngsters you can recognise.  I would like to hear from you if you can put names on the happy faces.

My thanks are due to the two readers who contacted me about a trade token which was recently advertised for sale on eBay.  It was an Athy token, once used in place of coins and issued by an Athy businessman in the 17th century.  Tokens were small coins made of copper, tin or lead, generally bearing the name of a merchant and usually, but not always, the date of issue and the place of issue.  They were commonly issued in the 17th century by traders and merchants who affected by the shortage of small denomination coins resorted to issuing trade tokens in various denominations.

Trade tokens have been identified for 17th century merchants in Athy, Castledermot, Maynooth, Kildare, Monasterevin and Naas.  The Athy tokens identified to date were issued by William Addis, James Swanton and James Walsh.  The token which I acquired was issued by Addis and shows on the obverse his name ‘William Addis’ and the denomination D1 and on the reverse ‘of Athy 1659’, with a swan in the centre of the round token.  I have not seen a Swanton token but I believe it bore his name and on the reverse the words ‘Excise Offices in Athy’, the year of issue is not known.

Walsh issued his one penny denomination token 7 years after Addis.  It had a double headed eagle displayed on the obverse, which in all probability was his shop sign.  Such signs were a common form of identifying shops in the 17th century. 

William Addis was a witness to the Will of Thomas Rushworth, a Quaker merchant of Athy, which was made on 26th August 1675.  It was quite likely that Addis was himself a Quaker and obviously a merchant whose shop sign of a swan was probably hung over the door of his shop in Athy’s High Street 350 years ago.

Nowadays the main streets of the town are beginning to display the ugly side of 21st century technology, with TV dishes appearing on the front of buildings.  It is a development which is very unwelcome and one wonders if the local Town Council can do anything to stop the spread of this ugliness. 

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