Two things...

A Merchant's Token
A Casino Token

A Merchant's Token

Gilruth Brothers Token
A "Gilruth Brothers" token (image from dealer "Coins of Beeston")

   Most of the African tokens on this site are rather modern - from the last twenty years. So for those of you with an interest in older items - here is an image I came across of a rather interesting 19th century token. By the time I came across the image, the dealer had sold the piece - so I do not know what the price had been. I am told that the piece appears in the main reference relevant to coins/tokens of this part of the world, (i.e. Vice, David. 1983. The Coinage of British West Africa and St. Helena, 1684-1958. Birmingham: Peter Ireland (Format) Ltd.) on page 223.

   There are a great number of 19th century tokens of the British Isles that have a vaguely similar appearance to this Lagos token i.e. brass, not particularly thick and of diameter in the range 22mm to 27mm. Many of the pieces have a portrait generally similar to that on the Lagos piece, with different obverse legends and abbreviations being used. Few pieces show a later portrait of the Queen. Many pieces have an obverse that comprises something other than a protrait e.g. having local establishments named such as public house, clubs, merchants and traders. Unlike the Lagos piece, some types include values expressed in “D” (pennies).

   So this Lagos piece in many ways belongs to this British series of tokens and was most likely made in England. The family name “GILRUTH” on the reverse (apparently with the “U” over “O”) turned out to be quite a scarce name when I tried to do some internet searching. The many small clues I got, could at best come up with just a bit of a guess about this token. So perhaps Gilruth Brothers were merchants working between somewhere like Liverpool or maybe Manchester and Lagos Colony (now part of Nigeria), importing cotton into the northwest of England during the great time of development that was the Industrial Revolution. The tokens perhaps saw use as money, which acted as small change as needed for transactions and they would only have been valid for payments back to this same merchant. At the same time these pieces would have acted as small advertisements for Gilruth Brothers. Well, as I did say, this is, to an extent, a bit of guesswork - a slightly educated guess. If any reader would offer some more details then please get in touch.

A Casino Token

"Eko Hotal Casino" 1 Naira
1 Naira token from “Eko Hotel Casino”

   I think I had heard of one or two casino tokens from Nigeria but this piece I have is the first I had ever seen. The obverse has centrally “N1” / “TOKEN” / “NO CASH VALUE” with stylised “FACE TO FACE” arched above and “EKO HOTEL CASINO. LAGOS” arched below. The reverse has centrally a pair facing portrait in silhouette with stylised “FACE TO FACE” arched above and “EKO HOTEL CASINO. LAGOS” arched below. The token is Bronze, it has a plain edge and a diameter of 30mm.

   This piece came from the casino sometime in the mid to late 1970s, the hotel is still in business to this day. It would seem that the establishment is now called “LE MERIDIEN EKO HOTEL CASINO” and that the hotel is the largest in Lagos. The phrase “FACE TO FACE” must be a reference to the nature of the casino table games.

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This page started with info and image on a merchant's token at February 2004.
Correction added at - Gilruth piece is in "Vice", July 2008.
"A Casino Token" added at July 2008.