Ardill of Leeds

The reverse of a working mens’s club penny token bearing Ardill’s characteristic design of a tulip wreath plus their usual maker’s signature, “Ardill Leeds”.

John Ardill operated from 1844 to 1852 as a clasp maker for boots and clogs at Burley Place, Kirkstall Road in Leeds. During this period he worked was in partnership with John Milner, a shoe maker. After 1852 Ardill continued to trade on his own as a clasp maker but also as an embosser. By 1870/75 Ardill had transferred his business to St. George’s Works in Little Woodhouse Street, Leeds. By this time he was trading as a medalist and diesinker. In the 1890s the business moved to Carr Mills in Leeds before eventually moving to its final destination at the Ridge Works in Meanwood Road, Leeds.

Between 1881 and 1909 Ardill’s business trades as John Ardill & Co. – diesinkers and engravers.  Thereafter they trades as Ardill & Co. – metal check manufacturers.

The company was still trading in 1989 by which time they were mainly producing metal labels and coal bag tags. It is not known when this historically important check and token maker finally stopped operating.

Between 1870s and early 1900s many of this prolific check and token maker’s products bear the signature “Ardill Leeds” although token examples are known bearing the earlier signatures of “John Ardill die sinker &c. St. George’s Works Leeds” and “J. Ardill St. George’s Works Leeds”. In addition to their signature many of Ardill’s products are distinguishable through the depiction of a characteristic tulip wreath on their reverse. This comprises an anti-clockwise wreath of tulip flowers, often with an outer beaded border and the company usual signature below. Vaughton, the Birmingham based diesinker, used similar signed and un-signed reverse bearing a similar wreath. However, in their case it composed of tulip cups (i.e. only the outer petals).

Ardill’s were an extremely prolific check and token producers both. Examples of their products are include Miner’s Association checks/badges, Co-op tokens, London & Newcastle Tea Company tokens, Brewery tokens, Public house and club tokens as well as many works time and pay checks. While most of the company’s products were made for the home market in Britain examples of their products are also known overseas.

An advertisement for John Ardill’s checks & tokens – Leeds Mercury, 18th March 1876.

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