The Langmead Collection of Market Tallies from London and the Home Counties

Hugh Langmead

Check and tallies issued by British market traders in the period from 1850 - 1970 are the last lineal descendants of the classic 17th Century token series. Struck by a number of manufacturers in a wide variety of shapes - triangular, heart-shaped, square, oblong, hexagonal and circular to name but some - and a range of metals, including bronze, brass, aluminium, tin and zinc, with face values ranging from a halfpenny to £5, they are a tangible reminder of day-to-day importance of produce markets, large and small, in both metropolitan and rural economies.

The Langmead Collection of these market checks is arguably the best to have been sold at auction. Its owner, a Londoner, concentrated on pieces from the once-famous markets of his city - Billingsgate, principally a fish market and the oldest until its closure in 1982; Covent Garden, the square overlooked by the Royal Opera House, which was the principal fruit, flower and vegetable market for over 300 years until its removal south of the river; Spitalfields, Borough and Stratford. For ease, the London checks have been grouped by location and postal district. The collection also includes checks from markets in the home counties of Bedfordshire, Essex, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.

Altogether there are 1,083 different pieces, plus one lot of 73 exact duplicates. Of this number, 110 are from the collection formed by Roy Hawkins (1917-87), sold as lot 292 in the Glendining’s sale of 16 March 1988. These have been noted in the cataloguing as (H) or ex H, so save needless repetition of footnotes. No ofter sources are recorded.

All the checks are in envelopes, individually described.
P.J..P.-M.