Market Lavington Museum

Tariff reform – 1908

We have recently seen a picture, dating from 1908, entitled The closed smithy, which is in Market Lavington Museum’s collection. This had been produced to encourage people to press for tariff reform. The reverse side of the picture lists the amount of farm produce imported that year.

The message was clear – that there should be a tax on these imports and that they should not be allowed into the country duty free.

The explanation of Duty Free says that not a single farthing of tax was payable on these imports. A farthing was the smallest denomination of coin at the time of our tariff reform notice. It was worth a quarter of an old penny, so there were 960 farthings in £1. In 1908, King Edward was on the throne. The pennies in this photograph date from his reign.

The more recent farthing is pictured for size comparison. Edward VII farthings did not feature a wren, but had an image of Britannia, similar to that on the pennies.