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UK Anti-Slavery Token "Am I Not a Man and a Brother"

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Registered: August 2005
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 2,362
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This British Abolitionist token was used as a fundraiser and awareness of the cause token. Copper halfpenny token issued by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade established by Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson in 1787. Proceeds from the sale helped the anti-slavery movement in the UK achieve its goals. The design was first seen on plates done by Wedgwood, designed by William Hackwood, in 1787. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act finally became law in 1807, although the institution of slavery was not officially abolished until 1833.
Elements of these designs (hand shake; chained & pleading slave) were seen in tokens created in the U.S.A. for the same purposes. The "Am I Not A Woman & A Sister" tokens (see USA tokens) are less scarce than this. However, the American version of this "Am I Not A Man & A Brother" British token is exceedingly rare with only three known examples. An illustration of this rarity can be found under this Museums' USA Tokens listing. See also American Colonization Society tokens under Liberia (World > Africa > Liberia).
Perhaps the most famous social token of the whole period, whose imagery was so powerfully used by William Wilberforce, was this one, known in many variants and proclaiming the essential injustice of slavery. On the obverse a kneeling negro pleads, "Am I Not A Man And A Brother" while on the reverse linked hands are placed inside the motto, "May slavery and oppression cease throughout the world". This particular piece was probably issued in Dublin. Edge inscription is: "Payable in Lancaster, London or Liverpool."
Thought provoking and difficult to find Anglo-Irish Political and Social Series (Middlesex) copper Anti-Slavery Conder halfpenny token undated. I think this is attributed to Dalton & Hamer Middlesex No: D&H# 1038/1039 series. I've compared two and can clearly see differences in lettering size and placement. I believe this piece is a 'bronzed' variety and I welcome your opinion in the comments below.
Part of the Political & Social Series, struck in the 1790's after the designs by abolitionist Josiah Wedgwood.
The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade (or The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade) was a British abolitionist group, formed on 22 May 1787, by twelve men who gathered together at a printing shop in London. The Society worked to educate the public about the abuses of the slave trade; it achieved abolition of the international slave trade in 1807, enforced by the Royal Navy. The United States also prohibited the African slave trade that year, to take effect in 1808.
The kneeling male slave design has recently been commemorated in a new trial/pattern silver issue [Joseph Lang of Steve Album Coins] from Sierra Leone and Benin and a series of advertising store tokens. The original concept was from porcelain china creator Wedgwood. []
In the middle of the eighteenth century, tales describing the gruesome reality of slavery in the West Indies made their way back to Britain and stimulated public interest in the topic. The first formally organized abolitionist group, The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, came together in 1787 at a printing shop in London. This society was responsible for commissioning the famous “Am I not a man and a brother?” design, which it adopted as its seal. The motif first appeared in print in the March 1788 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine, but no attention was given to the name of the artist. Several prints of the design existed amongst the papers of ornithologist and engraver Thomas Bewick upon his death in 1828, and as of now he remains the most convincing candidate, but the evidence is far from conclusive. Well-known potter Josiah Wedgwood produced cameos of design in the late 1780's, some of which were shipped to Benjamin Franklin and worn by supporters of the antislavery movement in Philadelphia. [Kyle Knapp: [ link ]

VIEW & DOWNLOAD these research articles on abolition tokens:
Numismatic Impressions of the Abolitionist Movement - Kyle Knapp [a PREMIER article!] [ link ]
The Kneeling Slave Token - Beerstecher: [ link ]
Abolitionist Tokens & William Garrison - Rachootin: [ link ]
Conder Token Collectors Club Journal (CTCC) article : [ link ]
Here's an early article on this series by Melvin and George Fuld, "The Numismatist" Apr 1957, page 395 at this: [ link ]

"Am I Not A Man And A Brother" Anti-Slavery Conder Token; ca. 1796. Manufacturer: William Lutwyche; Mint: Soho Mint, Birmingham; Artist: Roger Dixon. Copper, 2.8 cm.
In 1787, responding to an ongoing shortage in official coinage, some British merchants and tradesmen began producing their own privately minted coins and tokens for local circulation. Cheap and accessible, these objects proved an ideal vehicle for political propaganda. Abolitionist and antislavery designs proliferated in London and the provinces. This halfpenny token, which was manufactured in Birmingham, bears the seal of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade on the obverse (or front). A pair of clasped hands with the inscription “May slavery & oppression cease throughout the world” appears on the reverse.
· Date: April 4, 2009 · Views: 18,731 · Filesize: 107.0kb · Dimensions: 890 x 453 ·
Keywords: Am I Not A Man & Brother
Denomination: Token 1/2 Penny
Reference #: D&H 1038b - Middlesex
Date/Mintmark: ND
Condition: AU+
Weight: 9.53 g.; 27.5mm
Metal: copper, bronzed

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Registered: March 2009
Location: Wellington,Dominion of New Zealand.
Posts: 64
May 22, 2009 3:29am

I have got an anti-slavery commemorative 1/2d. traders' currency token from this series with the same reverse,but with a totally different obverse.

Eventually,I will get it uploaded.


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