History of Tavern Checks and Pub Tokens. Research is augmented with photographs, newspaper articles.


Tavern Checks
Tavern Checks

Many publicans issued their own tokens during the 19th century. Indeed, this was a fairly common practice in taverns and beer shops. Most of those issued in Birmingham and the Black Country were made by local diesinkers and stamping workshops.

Also serving the role of advertisements, these tokens were generally called checks. The publicans name was also stamped on the check. This would mean that that it could only be spent when he was the licensee - if you turned up just after the publican had left the pub you were out of pocket because the new gaffer would not honour it.

Checks existed for all values between 1d and 3d - ale in the mid-late 19th century was 2d or 3d a pint. 2½d was the price of a bottle of stout. Checks were one publican's method of ensuring their money came back over the counter. Another incorrigible method was to establish an agreement with local foremen to pay his workers in the pub on Saturday evenings. This sort of activity was rife in areas like Digbeth where large numbers of migrants used popular drinking houses as places to seek labour. The temptation to launch into a heavy drinking session with fresh pay proved irresistible to many labourers and the publican would pay the foreman a 'kickback' for such sales.
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Tavern Check for the Ashted Tavern at Birmingham

“The English beer is best in all Europe ... it was necessary to drink two or three pots of beer during our parley; for no kind of business is transacted in England without the intervention of pots of beer.”
Jarevin de Rochefort, 1672

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Public Bar Stained Glass

Woman Serving Beer

Brewery Buildings