BOXES & COX'S ORANGE

An introduction to Market Tokens by John Whitmore

      A very specialised but common use of tokens, often called in this context tallies, occurred in wholesale fruit, vegetable, and fish markets. Specially made wooden boxes for carrying produce were expensive to replace but subject to damage or loss in transit. The wholesalers could charge a returnable deposit, but this left opportunities for theft and fraud in the conditions of a busy market. The tally scheme provided for a token to be given as a receipt for each deposit, its design corresponding with markings on the box itself. The deposit was returnable only on production of both the box and the token, each on its own was worthless. The system operated in many parts of the country, but the most prolific issuers were the members of the London and Birmingham markets. The London tallies exhibit a huge variety of shapes, metals, and cut-outs to help in sorting an accumulation between the numerous issuers.