Collecting Articles and Features

Collecting Communion Tokens

Collecting Communion Tokens and small Communion Tokens price guide. Communion tokens were round or oval in shape, and they were given to individuals who took communion in churches during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Presbyterian worship in Scotland is particularly associated with them, but they may also be found in England, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland.

free church of scotland communion token
Free Church Of Scotland Communion Token

The Communion tokens were used to identify those who were entitled to receive Communion. The minister would give the person a token before giving them Communion. When Communion was being given, the individual would show the token to the Communion steward.

There are a number of reasons why communion tokens were used. First, communion tokens ensured that only those who were members of the church and who had been properly instructed in the faith were able to receive Communion. This was important because Communion is a sacred act in which Christians partake of the body and blood of Christ. Second, communion tokens helped to prevent Communion from being taken by those who might not appreciate its significance or who might abuse it in some way. Finally, communion tokens served as a tangible reminder of an individual’s commitment to the Christian faith.

a collection of Irish Communion Tokens
A collection of Irish Communion Tokens along with other Communion Tokens. Sold for £140 at Dix Noonan Webb, May 2021.

Though communion tokens fell out of use in the 18th century, they remain an important part of Protestant and Calvinist history. Communion tokens remind us of the importance of maintaining a proper understanding of Communion and of our commitment to the Christian faith.

Early 19th Century Scotland Church Communion Tokens for Four Parishes Of Perth c1807
Early 19th Century Scotland Church Communion Tokens for Four Parishes Of Perth c1807. Sold for £70 at Mellors & Kirk, April 2021.

They were also used as a means of identifying Communion members who had been away from the church for a period of time. They were also given to children when they were first admitted to communion.

selection of lead communion tokens
18th & early 19th Century Lead communion tokens,. Sold for £45 at A F Brock & Co, April 2013.

Often, these tokens would be made of metal or other durable materials and would be worn around the neck or on a keychain. The most common materials were metal, wood, and bone. In some cases, Communion Tokens were also made of other materials such as stone or glass. They could have holes in the centre and so could be strung together.

Tokens were often engraved with a Christian symbol or the initials of the person who received the Communion Token. Communion tokens were collectibles even back then and people would try to get as many different ones as possible. There are many different types of communion tokens that can be found. Some have biblical scenes or symbols on them, while others have the name of the church or the year they were made. Messages on tokens would include biblical quotes such as ‘This Do In Remembrance of Me’ and ‘Let A Man Examine Himself’.

communion tokens with messages
Communion Tokens often had Biblical quotes.

Today, they are still collected by some people as a hobby and for the most part can be acquired fairly inexpensively.