Æ Penny. Diameter 26.3mm. MORAT· Y· GREAT· MEN· DID MEE CALL around facing bust of Sultan Amurath. R. WHERE· EARE· I· CAME· I· CONQVER·D· ALL in a cartouche around; in centre [Coffee·] Tobacco· Sherbet· Tea· &· Chocolat· retal'd· in Exchange Ally in six lines. BW (London) 965; Norweb 6882. A weak patch due to a flan of uneven thickness, otherwise Good Fine. *US customers please note that this is strict British grading. Rare.
Morat's Coffee House in Exchange Alley was the most celebrated of all London coffee houses, even though the proprietor's name has yet to be discovered. His business prospered, for he issued no fewer than four tokens - three pennies and a halfpenny. The name is that of a near contemporary Turkish sultan, Morat IV (1623-40), whose head appears on all four tokens. Morat, or more correctly Amurath, fascinated Englishmen in the 1660s for his head appears on a goodly number of the thirty or so London coffee house tokens which feature a Turk's head despite the fact that he was a cruel tyrant with no redeeming qualities, who eventually committed suicide.
Morat's opened in 1662. A newspaper of that year advertised that free coffee would be available at the new coffee house in Exchange Alley at the sign of the Great Turk. At that time coffee houses were not just places of refreshment, also functioning as shops. At Morat's one could buy coffee powder at 4s to 6s per pound, 'turkie berry' at 3s per pound, East India Berry at 20d per pound, along with a free set of instructions for its preparation with each purchase. Also sold were chocolate, and sherbets (cold drinks perfumed with lemons, roses or violets) which cost from 6s to 60s per pound.
In the Great Fire of 1666 Morat's coffee house was burnt down and not rebuilt, though it may have opened anew with a different name.
British Tokens - 17th Century - London - Exchange Alley - Coffee house - Rare
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