Piccadilly, Farthing Token,
Found in the river Thames circa 1995.
The early history of Piccadilly is based around its first developer, Robert Baker, a tailor on the Strand. He had made a fortune out of "picadils","a kinde of stiff collar" which were very fashionable at court. With the money made from these he bought land to the north side of the present Piccadilly Circus. On the site of what is now Great Windmill Street, in 1612 he built himself a country house which promptly acquired the sneering nickname of Pikadilly Hall. Much greater development occurred after the Restoration, when the street was called Portugal Street after Charles 11's Queen, Catherine of Braganza. However Piccadilly had already stuck in the public's imagination and by the mid eighteenth century Piccadilly had become the name for the whole street.
The fluid nature of spelling at the time and celebrity nature of the new fashion accessory played into the early naming of the address on the seventeenth century tokens. Of thirteen issuers there are nine versions of the spelling of Piccadilly, of which only one used the form we know today. Other versions included Pekadilla, Pikeadelye and Peckadilley.
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