CHINA, mother of pearl gaming chip for the English trade


CHINA, gaming chip, no date, (late 18th century), Obverse: pair of lovebirds, Reverse: flower, Edge: notched, mother of pearl, 24mm, for export to England, flaws, AU

1 in stock

SKU: 2457640 Categories: ,


In the later 18th century the English middle class went through a period when they went crazy for Chinese luxury products. Chinese export porcelain and furniture were everywhere. The English loved to play betting games, and some of them liked to bet with tokens rather than with coins. Some people liked their own personal token sets. Some of them were made of carved mother of pearl in China.

people have gambled since before the beginning of money. But sometimes money was unavailable, or gambling was illegal, so people would use things other than money for their bets, so they could say they weren’t gambling. Or the gambling house would want the edge that you get by using house tokens. As long as the gambler doesn’t cash in the tokens the house gets to use the money.

The word “exonumia” is used to describe all kinds of things that are “like” coins but are not coins.I wrote a blog post on that subject. Basic categories: 1. used like a coin but not issued by a national government, 2. looks like a coin but not made for spending, 3. other things that we are interested in.