1767 Engraved Token For The Murder Of Wolf Myers

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Engraved token, probably from a smoothed 18th Century Halfpenny.

Engraving reads; 'Dec 28 1767 - For The Robbery & Murder Of Wolf Myers - J Curtis Hung In Chains Near Sarum Mar(ch) 14 1768'. The reverse features a hanging man in a gibbet cage, amongst three roads named 'Sarum, Blandford and Shaston' with a church and some other buildings in the background. It also features an engraved area marked with 'PIT' and what appears to be a tombstone.

Wolf Myers was a Jewish peddler aged between 30 and 40 who was found murdered in January 1768 in a snow covered pit. A 27 year old sailor named John Curtis was arrested for the murder after incriminating items were found in his sea chest. Curtis claimed to be from Jersey but was thought to actually be Portuguese and his name was Courtine. Curtis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to be executed and hung in chains, a process by which his body was to be placed in a specially constructed iron frame for months or even years after his execution, as a warning to others.

Curtis was hanged at the scene of the crime but protested his innocence to the end. He was reportedly walked around the pit in which the body was found to see if it would jog his memory, this being the pit which is marked on the token.

The token has been cleaned but the engraving is clear and this remains an incredible piece of British criminal history.

A similar example sold at Woolley & Wallis salerooms for a total price of £821.60 on 19/10/16.