Artifact of the Day for May 8th, 2017 — Bull Dog comb, and 1852 Half-Penny Token

Today’s student choice was a comb recovered from what is looking like a midden context, or in other words, the garbage dump! We started work on this midden area today which is located beside the structure and found all sorts of curious things including the door of a wood-fired kitchen stove, many mouth-blown bottles, parts of shoes, dishes, and lots of bones.

They also recovered this comb, which evidently was thrown out as it was missing a lot of teeth! I like how there are different grades of teeth separation from the left side of the comb to the surviving middle section.

Bakelite comb with "Bull Dog".
Bakelite comb with “Bull Dog”.

Frustratingly, I have not been able to find out much about this company. The comb does appear to be made of Bakelite, which means it can’t be any older than 1907. If I had to guess my impression would be late 1920s or early 1930s but that is just a hunch based on the lettering style.

As a bonus, here is what would have been my choice for Artifact of the Day. This was found in the structure, near where the tinnie was found.

Bank of Upper Canada, 1852 Half-Penny Bank Token
Bank of Upper Canada, 1852 Half-Penny Bank Token    Photo: James Conolly

Under a 1819 charter granted by the Province of Upper Canada, The Bank of Upper Canada was established in the city of York (now Toronto, Ontario) in 1821. In 1841, Upper and Lower Canada were united to form the Province of Canada. It was decided at this time that only the bank that held the government accounts had the right to issue copper tokens. The bank that held these rights from 1841 to 1848 was the Bank of Montreal.

Rioting in Montreal resulting from the passage of the Rebellion Losses Bill in 1849 ended up with the parliament buildings burning down, and the capital of Ontario was moved to Toronto. As a result, the right to issue tokens passed to the Bank of Upper Canada.

The building which housed the bank, constructed in 1825, still exists in Toronto’s Adelaide St East and has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

An extreme shortage of coins meant the Bank of Upper Canada issued copper penny and half-penny tokens between 1850 and 1857. The 1852 penny shows St. George and the Dragon on the obverse, and is based on Benedetto Pistrucci’s design for the 1817 British sovereign.

1817 British gold sovereign
1817 British gold sovereign

Here is a less-worn example of the 1852 half-penny token so you can see the finer detail:

The reverse is the Coat of Arms of Upper Canada, which by this time was obsolete!

As a final point of interest, there were two issues of tokens in 1852. Most of the coins were struck at the Royal Mint in London, UK, and were shipped to Canada. Due to a heavy schedule and time pressure, the dies and planchets were transferred to Heaton’s Mint in Birmingham, UK. You can tell which striking you have because of how the dies and planchets were arranged.

These coins have been nicknamed “St. George Pieces” by collectors because of their obverse design.

The Royal Mint issued tokens have the dies in medallic alignment, which means that even if a medal flipped sideways on its ribbon so the back side was showing, it would still be right-side-up. Therefore, both the top of the obverse and the top of the reverse are pointing in the same direction. This is how our modern-day Canadian coins are oriented. The Heaton’s Mint issue have the dies in coin alignment, which means the image on one side of the coin is upside-down relative to the other (this is how US coins are oriented).

The coin recovered today has a medallic  alignment, which means it was struck in the first pressing at the Royal Mint in London!

By 1852, Charles Perry had bought this parcel of land from Blayney Mitchell. Perhaps some of this assemblage dates to his early tenure while the mill was being constructed.


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