It is clear from the find spots, designs and differing styles of lead tokens in Rome and Ostia that these were objects produced by a variety of different groups within the region. This paper explores the ways in which authority was (or was not) communicated on these issues, and the significance of this for our understanding of the use context of these pieces. Tokens name authorities in full, express shared authority (e.g. between an emperor and magistrate), use enigmatic abbreviations of names, and perhaps also utilise other emblems of identity, e.g. designs associated with personal seals. These differing forms of expression reflect the varied use contexts of tokens, from relatively large events to small communities in which everyone knew each other. The ways in which authority was expressed communicated the prestige of token issuers, and, in the case of the more enigmatic expressions, served to bind a particular community together.