Lost and Found: The Enduring Legacy of Bristol Old Vic Theatre Tokenbristololdvic,theatretoken,lostandfound,legacy
Lost and Found: The Enduring Legacy of Bristol Old Vic Theatre Token

Lost and Found: The Enduring Legacy of Bristol Old Vic Theatre Token

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Bristol Old Vic theatre token could still be valid after 257 years


A rare theatre token from 1766, which grants the owner unlimited access to shows at the historic Bristol Old Vic, could still be valid after 257 years. The token, one of only 50 minted for the original shareholders, is set to be auctioned off at Henry Aldridge & Sons auction house in Devizes. The Bristol Old Vic, famous for upholding its policy for all authenticated tokens, has stated that if the token is indeed authentic, they will honor their policy and provide free tickets to the owner.

The Historical Significance

The Theatre Royal, now known as the Bristol Old Vic, was constructed between 1764 and 1766 on King Street. At that time, 50 original shareholders raised £50 each to fund the construction of the theatre and were rewarded with a silver token. These tokens entitled the bearer to watch every performance played at the theatre and hold great historical significance.

The Rare Auction Item

The Bristol Old Vic token in question is numbered 35 and is expected to sell for a value between £1,500 and £2,500. Although it is believed that 20 of these tokens have survived, only a few have ever been offered up for auction. The current vendors, hailing from Bristol, hold this item dear as an important piece of local history.

A Legacy of the Tokens

Over the years, these tokens have had a tumultuous journey, being swapped, sold, lost, found, and even forged. However, comprehensive records at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection have managed to trace the origins of some of these coins. One ticket, for example, was offered for sale at £30 in 1791, indicating that the tokens themselves had become valuable commodities. Ticket number 35, on the other hand, was given to shareholder William Jones in 1766 and eventually passed down to John Wadham, a prominent Bristol Blue Glassmaker, in 1815. The coin then made its way down the Wadham family, with Thomas Wadham becoming High Sheriff of Bristol in 1843 and establishing Winterbourne School.

Philosophical Discussion: The Value of Heritage

The existence of this theatre token, still potentially valid after over two and a half centuries, raises questions about the value of heritage and traditions. In a rapidly changing world, where digital entertainment is at our fingertips, we must not forget the power and importance of physical spaces such as theatres. The Bristol Old Vic has a rich history rooted in community, culture, and artistic expression. Preserving and honoring historical artifacts like this theatre token helps to strengthen our connection to the past and deepen our appreciation for the arts.

Editorial: Celebrating Local History

The auctioning of the Bristol Old Vic theatre token is an event that should be celebrated and cherished. It is a chance to reflect on the rich theatrical history of Bristol and its significance in the wider context of British theatre. The token serves as a reminder of the passion and commitment of the original shareholders who invested in the arts, making live performances accessible to all. It also highlights the enchantment and magic that theatre brings to our lives, as well as the enduring legacy it creates.

Advice: Preserving Historical Artifacts

In a society that is increasingly focused on the shiny and new, it is essential to recognize and preserve the historical artifacts that shape our identities and heritage. Institutions like the Bristol Old Vic and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection play a crucial role in documenting and safeguarding these treasures. As individuals, we can contribute by valuing and supporting organizations and initiatives that work to protect and display our collective history. By doing so, we ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate and learn from the stories of the past.

In conclusion, the Bristol Old Vic theatre token auction presents an exciting opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon the rich history of British theatre. This rare artifact not only holds monetary value but also serves as a powerful symbol of our connection to the past. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of entertainment, it is important to recognize and preserve the cultural heritage that continues to shape our society.


Lost and Found: The Enduring Legacy of Bristol Old Vic Theatre Token
<< photo by Pop & Zebra >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Hannah McKenzie

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