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Exhibit № 12. Joseph Knibb, Oxford, Circa 1668

Exhibit № 12. Joseph Knibb, Oxford, Circa 1668

An exceedingly rare Charles II Oxford copper farthing trade token

The obverse signed in cursive script Joseph Knibb Clockmaker in Oxon within a milled edge border, the reverse with a clock dial, the Roman hour chapter ring enclosing the counterbalanced single hand pointing to XII and flanked by the initials IK, within a similarly milled border.
Mounted in a removable modern walnut frame with turned handle.

£3,500


Height

⅝ inch (15 mm)

Provenance

The John Hooper Collection, until sold 2009;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.181

Comparative Literature

RA Lee, The Knibb Family, Clockmakers, 1964, pl.1

Joseph Knibb (1640-1711) was the fifth son of Thomas Knibb, yeoman of Claydon, Oxfordshire. No record of any official apprenticeship has been traced but it is thought that he learnt his trade from his cousin Samuel Knibb in Newport Pagnell. On completing his training in c.1662, Joseph moved to Oxford, initially working in St Clement’s, outside the Oxford City Liberties to avoid their restrictions and signing his clocks ‘of’ Oxford. A petition was drawn up, objecting to his presence as a foreigner, because he had not served his apprenticeship in the City. By 1666, Joseph had moved to Holywell Street, a University property within the City, as a gardener at Trinity College, and by doing so, he outmanoeuvred the Oxford Corporation. He applied for his Freedom of the City, and on 1st February 1667 the mayor, William Bayley, proposed his admission but it was postponed until the next council meeting, by which time the smiths and watchmakers had drawn up another petition to oppose him and his Freedom was refused. Amongst the objectors were the clockmakers: Michael Bird, brothers Richard and John Quelch, and the great (turret) clockmaker and blacksmith, William Young. It was not until February 1668, on payment of a fine, that he was allowed his Freedom and his clocks started to be signed ‘in’ Oxford (as is this token). His business was prospering and the council probably decided it would be better to have him under their authority than not. By January 1671 Joseph had moved to London where he is thought to have taken over his cousin Samuel Knibb’s business, who appears to have died in c.1670.

Trade tokens were issued in the 17th century, between 1648 and 1673, in response to a lack of low denomination coinage being produced by the state or crown, following the withdrawal of Cromwellian coinage. Whilst the wealthy used credit, with official change in such short supply everybody else needed a way to do business. To ease the monetary situation, boroughs and cities across the country began producing tokens to be used within the locality, and traders minted their own tokens in brass or copper to give as change. Most were not given a specific value and were intended as farthings, but there were also half-penny and sometimes penny tokens, that usually bear their denomination. Trade tokens could be spent locally, not just with the person that issued them, and businesses readily accepted tokens, but only from those issued by people they knew and trusted to honour its value.

Throughout the period of trade token production, there were plans by the state or crown to produce small coinage, but it was only in 1672 that the first farthing was finally issued. On the 16th August 1672, a proclamation was made by the crown ordering the minting of trade tokens to cease. A further proclamation was issued in 1673, but it was only with the publication of a third proclamation in 1674 that the milling of trade tokens finally ceased.

It was most probably very soon after gaining his Freedom ‘in’ Oxford in 1668 that Joseph Knibb pressed his undated and non-denominated ‘farthing’ trade token, possibly as much for promotional ends as practicality. It may be competitively significant that only one of his rivals in the Oxford watch and clock trade, the maker Michael Bird, also issued a trade token at a similar time. Bird had been trading in the city since his Freedom in 1654 but had not issued a token before. He was staunchly opposed to Joseph Knibb gaining his Freedom and, if Bird’s trade token was a reaction to Knibb’s farthing, it might be symbolic that his was a ‘more trustworthy’ higher denomination HALF PENY; the obverse is signed and centred by a cockerel, a humorous play on ‘Bird’, while the reverse describes him as a WATCHMAKER rather than clockmaker, the centre initialled M*B and, perhaps crucially for the dating of this token, Bird’s half-penny token was dated 1668.

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Product Description

Joseph Knibb (1640-1711) was the fifth son of Thomas Knibb, yeoman of Claydon, Oxfordshire. No record of any official apprenticeship has been traced but it is thought that he learnt his trade from his cousin Samuel Knibb in Newport Pagnell. On completing his training in c.1662, Joseph moved to Oxford, initially working in St Clement’s, outside the Oxford City Liberties to avoid their restrictions and signing his clocks ‘of’ Oxford. A petition was drawn up, objecting to his presence as a foreigner, because he had not served his apprenticeship in the City. By 1666, Joseph had moved to Holywell Street, a University property within the City, as a gardener at Trinity College, and by doing so, he outmanoeuvred the Oxford Corporation. He applied for his Freedom of the City, and on 1st February 1667 the mayor, William Bayley, proposed his admission but it was postponed until the next council meeting, by which time the smiths and watchmakers had drawn up another petition to oppose him and his Freedom was refused. Amongst the objectors were the clockmakers: Michael Bird, brothers Richard and John Quelch, and the great (turret) clockmaker and blacksmith, William Young. It was not until February 1668, on payment of a fine, that he was allowed his Freedom and his clocks started to be signed ‘in’ Oxford (as is this token). His business was prospering and the council probably decided it would be better to have him under their authority than not. By January 1671 Joseph had moved to London where he is thought to have taken over his cousin Samuel Knibb’s business, who appears to have died in c.1670.

Trade tokens were issued in the 17th century, between 1648 and 1673, in response to a lack of low denomination coinage being produced by the state or crown, following the withdrawal of Cromwellian coinage. Whilst the wealthy used credit, with official change in such short supply everybody else needed a way to do business. To ease the monetary situation, boroughs and cities across the country began producing tokens to be used within the locality, and traders minted their own tokens in brass or copper to give as change. Most were not given a specific value and were intended as farthings, but there were also half-penny and sometimes penny tokens, that usually bear their denomination. Trade tokens could be spent locally, not just with the person that issued them, and businesses readily accepted tokens, but only from those issued by people they knew and trusted to honour its value.

Throughout the period of trade token production, there were plans by the state or crown to produce small coinage, but it was only in 1672 that the first farthing was finally issued. On the 16th August 1672, a proclamation was made by the crown ordering the minting of trade tokens to cease. A further proclamation was issued in 1673, but it was only with the publication of a third proclamation in 1674 that the milling of trade tokens finally ceased.

It was most probably very soon after gaining his Freedom ‘in’ Oxford in 1668 that Joseph Knibb pressed his undated and non-denominated ‘farthing’ trade token, possibly as much for promotional ends as practicality. It may be competitively significant that only one of his rivals in the Oxford watch and clock trade, the maker Michael Bird, also issued a trade token at a similar time. Bird had been trading in the city since his Freedom in 1654 but had not issued a token before. He was staunchly opposed to Joseph Knibb gaining his Freedom and, if Bird’s trade token was a reaction to Knibb’s farthing, it might be symbolic that his was a ‘more trustworthy’ higher denomination HALF PENY; the obverse is signed and centred by a cockerel, a humorous play on ‘Bird’, while the reverse describes him as a WATCHMAKER rather than clockmaker, the centre initialled M*B and, perhaps crucially for the dating of this token, Bird’s half-penny token was dated 1668.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm