Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 16:10 UK

Penny sheds light on old Pwllheli

Pwllheli Penny and New Penny
The old penny is the same size as a current issue

A rare coin dating from 1666 has been presented to a Gwynedd town where it was used by shoppers in the past.

The Pwllheli Penny was not used to beat any 17th Century credit crunch but as small change tokens by residents.

Mayor Evan John Hughes said he was delighted to receive the coin, which is the same size as a new penny, and which was presented to Pwllheli Town Council.

Edward Besly, a Museum of Wales expert, said the coins were used as "vouchers" and were not legal tender.

Mr Hughes said the presentation of the penny added to a wealth of objects now kept by the town council.

"I'm so glad that it has been presented to the town council as I'd like to see a museum being built to display these treasures at some stage," he said.

By and large they are pretty rare
Edward Besly, National Museum of Wales

The coin was presented to the council by Mr O J G Cowell in memory of his father, town Alderman T R Cowell.

Town council clerk Robin Huws said it was "exciting" to learn about the penny.

"We had no idea of its existence," he added.

Coin and medal expert Mr Besly said there were three different issuers of the Pwllheli Penny, which was used as a "voucher" to buy goods.

Two of the issuers worked in 1666, Richard Preece and Hugh Lloyd Rosindale - the latter being responsible for the penny presented to the council.

"Hugh Lloyd Rosindale was described as a gentleman and mercer (person who sold cloth as well as other goods)," said Mr Besly.

Mayor of Pwllheli, Evan John Hughes
Mr Hughes said he wanted the penny to stay in Pwllheli

The coin itself dates from a time when all coins were silver.

As silver got more expensive, the coins themselves became smaller in size, and there was a shortage of small change.

To overcome this "tokens" were made of copper - and the right to issue them was sold to entrepreneurs, said Mr Besly.

"Around a hundred people had the right to be issuers in Wales," he said.

"They were all made in London though, as you had people travelling the country touting for orders," he added.

'Metal detectors'

Originally there would have been hundreds of the pieces around, but in 1670 Charles II decided to produce proper coinage with the head of the monarch on one side, he said.

This meant the token coins were collected back and probably melted down.

In some instances bags of the coins survive, but "by and large they are pretty rare", he added.

"Metal detectorists sometimes find them and the total of known Pwllheli pennies is 10.

"Out of these, this one is the fourth known coin from the Hugh Lloyd Rosindale issue," he added.




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