The Nails

Outside The Exchange on Corn Street are four brass tables known as "nails", dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

These are where merchants carried out their business. With flat tops and raised edges, which prevent coins from falling to the pavement, the nails were probably modelled from mobile tables which were taken to trade fairs and markets.

Deals could be closed by payment on the nails, which are often cited as the origin of the saying "cash on the nail" or "pay on the nail", meaning immediate payment. However, it is likely that these expressions were in use before the nails were erected.

The four nails were made at different times, as reflected in their varying designs. The oldest nail is undated but believed to be late Elizabethan, the second oldest was given by a Bristol merchant who died in 1594, and the other two are dated 1625 and 1631.