These unique copper tokens were once thought to have been minted in London as early as 1672, due to two examples that were struck over 1672 British halfpennies. We now believe these to have all been minted around 1694 as there are similarities in the obverse dyes in all variations of this token. The genesis of this token is unknown. As the reverse motto reads "GOD PRESERVE LONDON", it was formerly believed to refer to the great London fire of 1666. Others have suggested that the elephant device on the obverse bears some relation to the Royal African Company, founded by the Duke of York in 1622; but no solid evidence exists for either theory. Perhaps, someone utilized the elephant as a unique device that would catch the publics' fancy.

These tokens were probably designed at the Tower mint in London for domestic use, but saw circulation in the colonies on par as either pence or halfpence. The London Elephant Tokens are a colorful representation of late 17th century merchandising. Some have speculated that the tokens were used in England as a sort of lottery ticket or chit.