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Boy Bishop's token!


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Finally solved one of the mystery coins I received a couple of months ago but couldn't get anyone to I.D.!

 

I made a little article for the sale description that will start in a couple of days - thought I would copy-paste it here as it seems a little interesting.

 

Boy Bishops token (lead), roughly Penny-size.

 

Obverse: Bishop's mitre, legend around reads 'Sanctvs Nicholaus'.

 

Reverse: 'Ave Rex Gentis' - Ave Rex Gentis (Anglorum) or "behold King of the (English (or Anglian) people".

 

During the Middle Ages, as part of the Christmas celebrations, churches and abbeys used to elect a choirboy as Boy Bishop.

He would hold office from St Nicholas' Day, on December 6, to Childermas or Holy Innocents' Day, on December 28, when he preached a sermon and then resigned. During this period the choirboy was treated exactly as a real bishop would have been. He wore the bishop's robes, preached sermons and headed a procession in his honour but was not allowed to celebrate Mass.

The custom honoured St Nicholas, the patron saint of children, who lived during the 4th century at Lycia in what is now Turkey, where he was Archbishop. The Boy Bishop ceremony was in existence in Bury by 1418 but the earliest tokens date from about 1480. They were probably exchanged for sweetmeats or alms at the Abbey almonry or by charitable local tradesmen and merchants. The design of Bury's Boy Bishop tokens was based on the regular coinage. The neatest pieces are probably the earliest. The obverse (heads) usually shows a mitre or the head of St Nicholas and carries a legend asking for his prayers.

 

r0nhx1.jpg

 

2gtanwi.jpg

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