Smoking, drinking and the British sweet tooth

Grocer's trade token

Made in England, about 1830

Object number 34.56/128
Given by Miss M Lister, 1956

See this object at Gallery Oldham This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Grocer's trade token

During the 1700s and 1800s, British shops were full of domestic goods that would not have been available without the slave labour that produced the raw material. These trade tokens, issued by Henry Evans, an Oldham tea dealer, show a pair of sugar loaves on one side. 

The West Indies became the world's largest producer of sugar during the 1700s, fuelled by the import of millions of enslaved Africans to work the plantations. As production increased, prices in Britain fell and sugar became an integral part of the British diet across all social classes, taken in drinks such as tea, coffee and chocolate and eaten in jams and puddings. It was sold in tall conical loaves, from which small lumps of sugar were cut using sugar nippers.

This information was provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.