Skip to main content

Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

255: Token, The Uncharitable Monopolizer

Token, The Uncharitable Monopolizer This parody of a British trade token caricatures Prime Minister Pitt the Younger as ‘The Uncharitable Monopolizer’, who is accused of starving the poor. With a skullcap labelled ‘Possession’ and decorated with the Devil hoarding wheat, and a monstrously wide-open mouth, the Monopolizer is shown swallowing up the British Isles. Its inscriptions declare the concern felt by a public ‘in distress’ over the continued spike in the price of wheat. On the opposite side, a ‘Charitable Hand’ shares its wealth with ‘all ye distressed’, giving coins to outstretched infant and elderly hands, and receives praise from the heavens. This token expresses the injustice felt by the poor over the price of food staples before the Corn Laws of 1815.

Designed by John Hancock, Middlesex, England, 1800 Copper alloy Anonymous donor (CM.526-1989)

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn RSS feed for events RSS feed for stories
University of Cambridge Museums logo Designation scheme Logo Accredited Museum status logo Cambridge City Council Logo Arts Council England Logo Research England logo