Saturday 6 January 2024

 Happy New Year


Three wise men of Cologne

On June 9, 1164, Frederick I issued a certificate conferring the ownership of the relics of the Three Magi to the Archbishop of Cologne which were transferred to the Cologne Cathedral on July 23, 1164. In medieval times, the possession of such a relic was a strong argument for the German king to be the only true emperor and thus of higher rank than all the other European rulers. The fact that Frederick I owned their relics underlined heaven’s appreciation for him. The possession of those relics brought lots of pilgrims to Cologne.


City of Cologne. Gold strike at 4 gold florins from the dies of the Dreikönigstaler [Three Magi taler], no year (around 1620). Extremely rare. Very fine. Estimate: 50,000 euros. From Künker auction 313 (October 9, 2018), No. 3724.


The coin shows the key scene of Saint Ursula’s legend, as it has been established since the 13th century. In the centre of a boat going up the river Rhine towards Cologne, we see Saint Ursula, wearing a crown. To her left, elaborately dressed, is Prince Aetherius. He had promised to get baptized after the three years’ waiting period. Together with his bride-to-be, he had gone on a pilgrimage to Rome, where the two of them were joined by Pope Cyriacus. We see him with a tiara and a processional cross to Saint Ursula’s right. The coin depicts the moment of the attack by the pagan besiegers of Cologne: While the prince protectively covers his body with his arms, the holy virgin is praying to God, supported by the brave pope who brings the Christian message to the land of the unbelievers.

Diocese of

Cologne. 1688 Vacancy of the See. Reichstaler 1688. Very rare. Extremely fine. 4,000 euros. From Künker auction 313 (October 9, 2018), no. 3634.

During the French occupation, the relics of the Three Magi were evacuated to the free town of Deutz. Only after Napoleon’s Concordat with the Catholic Church, they returned to their usual place on January 6, 1804.


Accessed 02 01 2024


images by kind permission of Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, Osnabrück“. Lübke & Wiedemann KG, Leonberg“  owner of the coin images

Sunday 18 June 2023


The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815.

The fiftieth anniversary was not celebrated as Britain and France were on good terms and no-one wanted to offend them.

The hundredth anniversary fell during the First World War and so there were other priorities although the hundredth anniversary of Trafalgar was marked.

A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition. One of these was a British-led coalition consisting of units from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick, and Nassau, under the command of the Duke of Wellington.  The other was composed of three corps of the Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal von Blücher (the fourth corps of this army fought at the Battle of Wavre on the same day). The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.The Marquis of Anglesey and the Charge of the British, AE by Mudie (1820)

Pistrucci's electrotype medal (1840s)

Wellington death 1852 (obv)  


Charles Riley, Coins & Medals

Thursday 4 May 2023


Catch! A coronation medallion fit for a king.

At the coronation following the Restoration commemorative medallions were distributed to the congregation. The diarist Samuel Pepys recorded that “medals [were] flung up and down by my Lord Cornwallis of silver, but [Pepys] could not get any. Another witness, Elias Ashmole, noted medals, “flung abroad… medals both of silver and gold… as a princely Donation or Largesse…” 


Bust of Charles II  crowned in royal ermine robes, wearing collar and George of the Garter. On the obverse Charles II in royal robes, holding the sceptre, is seated on a throne; Peace, hovering over him, places the crown upon his head.  The inscription reads


Inscription translation: Sent to support a fallen age, 23 April, 1661.

Illustration by kind permission of Charles Riley, Coins & Medals


Friday 31 March 2023



Collectors are divided on whether to buy slabbed coins. Many numismatists like the professional grading and descriptions and the protection the slabbing offers. However many of us prefer to handle the actual coins.

Interestingly archaeologists have discovered that slabbing coins was known to ancient Roman collectors. Perspex or plastic of any type had not been invented, and glass was expensive, so the coins had to be encased in stone or concrete. This meant the coin was protected from wear, accidental damage and were difficult to steal (or even move at all). However the coins could not be viewed by the collector. Julius Caesar who was a keen collector, came up with the saying “veni vidi vici” which means “I came, I saw, I saw no coin”.


Some coins were stamped SPQR which stands for Slab Pretty Quickly, Romans. So look out for rocks or stones which may contain a coin.  You would be a fool not to!


Friday 20 January 2023

 The Penny

At our January meeting we looked at the humble penny in the UK and abroad. here are some colloquial uses:

"A penny for your thoughts" is a way of asking someone what they are thinking about. It was first documented John Heywood's 1547 Dialogue Conteinying the Nomber in Effect of All the Proverbes in the Englishe Tongue

"In for a penny, in for a pound," is a common expression used to express someone's intention to see something through, however much time, effort, or money this entails.

To "give (one's) tuppence/tuppenny/two'penneth (worth)", is a saying that uses the words for two pence to share one's opinion, idea, or point of view, regardless of whether or not others want to hear it. A similar expression using the US term of cents is my two cents. Give me five cents in Catalonia means to give the summary only. 

To "spend a penny" means to urinate. Its etymology is literal: coin-operated public toilets commonly charged a pre-decimal penny, beginning with the Great Exhibition of 1851.


Friday 23 December 2022

                                                  A  Brilliant Christmas 
                                         And an Uncirculated New Year
                                        Oxford Numismatic Society 2022

Saturday 10 December 2022

The theme of this month's meeting was a seasonal one. here is a photograph of some Christmas Club tokens. people would pay a few pence a week to save up for Christmas. Between the wars and later most people did not have bank accounts and this was the only way of saving. however the customer could only buy goods from the shop and they sometimes charged a fee and there were penalties for leaving the scheme early. They were popular in the USA and this country.

Have a cheerful collecting Christmas