Æ Farthing. Diameter 15.6mm. · THO: BLAGRAVE· KINGS around a bust of Henry VIII holding sceptre. R. · HEAD· NEW· FISH· STREET around · B · above T • I in centre. BW (London) 2009; Norweb — *Slight overall pitting, otherwise Fine/GF*. *US customers please note that this is strict British grading.
The King's Head in New Fish Street was one of the most celebrated taverns in Elizabethan England. It was an ancient hostelry recorded as early as 1417. It is mentioned in the Elizabethan ballad ‘Newes from Bartholomew Fayre: “The King's Head in New Fish Street where roysters do range”. It was one of the 40 taverns allowed to continue trade in 1553 along with the Sun and the Bell in the same street.
It is frequently mentioned in contemporary records of various city companies. The King's Head would have been seen and most likely visited by Shakespeare, Johnson, Beaumont and Fletcher, as they crossed the old bridge into London and saw the sign of Henry VIII's head there. Three of the tavern’s keepers issued tokens. Thomas Blagrave, the second of them, was there from 1653 until 1659, when he took over the Antelope at St Bartholomew's Exchange, and in 1663 moved to the Crown in Threadneedle Street, where he issued a halfpenny token.
The King's Head had an unrivalled position close to the northern edge of the bridge and to the stairs at Billingsgate and Old Swan. In 1937 its name still survived in Kings Head Court at No. 34. Lockie, in 1816, sited it at '4 doors on the right from London Bridge at No.23 Fish Street Hill'. It is shown on Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677. The tavern continued until 1898 when its licence was transferred to the Mermaid Alehouse in Lower Thames Street.
British Tokens - 17th Century - London - New Fish Street - Thomas Blagrave Shakespeare - Johnson
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