Thursday, 12 July 2018

Random thought for today.

Some numismatic sites publish excellent articles on history and coins. The essays are informative and well illustrated. They give background information on historical events and subjects. However the coins that are used for illustrations are usually museum quality pieces. why not illustrate these articles with the sort of coins that collectors have?

Just a thought.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Monday, 18 June 2018


How do you like your coins?


Silly question, I suppose. Most people see a coin in an auction catalogue or list. It is well illustrated and described with the reference numbers from the standard texts. In 9 out of 10 cases no surprises, you get exactly what it says on the tin. It is rare for coins to be wrongly identified or catalogued.

But what is the fun in that? I like a challenge. the pleasure for me is going to a dealer with no idea of what is likely to be on offer, some weeks nothing at all and other times plenty on offer. My last purchases were  a Gibraltar token of  1818, a 1 skilling overstruck on a coin of the previous century and a double liard from 1709 in the Spanish Netherlands. the double liard is quite rare as is the Gibraltar token.

These were all fairly easy to identify. some weeks I pick out the coins I have never seen before and require a bit of research. that for me is the pleasure of collecting; finding researching and learning. perhaps I am rarity.











Saturday, 2 June 2018



The theme for the next meeting is women on coins. 

Here are some random coins. What would you have chosen? 



Modern 50 p commemorating votes for women. Coin of Hadrian showing a sad Britannia
Hadrian's wife, Sabrina and a modern example of Britannia looking a bit more cheerful. 



A jetton commemorating Queen Elizabeth's help to the Dutch protestants. a marriage medalet of Charles I and Henrietta.

A jetton of Louis XIV and his wife and an unknown couple.

Saturday, 12 May 2018




The theme this month was politics and change. 

Here are some items that show this well. A Charles I Royalist badge and top right a Sierra Leonne anti slavery penny token. in the centre is a modern coin from Slovenia.  A partisan with the symbol of the communist regime on a modern coin was controversial. Some considered the partisan commander as a war criminal, while others called it a provocation precisely because it happened when Slovenia was preparing to celebrate its twenty years of independence.

At the bottom two less controversial coins, a 50 p commemorating the Battle of Hastings and a £2.00 commemorating the Magna Carta. 


Monday, 7 May 2018


Where are all the books?

I can tell that alot of the coins I buy that have belonged to keen collectors. They come with well researched coin tickets and sometimes give provenance. When I have purchased a collection I can see they were put together over years, sometimes generations. Sometimes it is possible to tell where the collector lived or worked when he or she assembled them.

But where are the books? They must have had books to identify the coins. At the time they were acquired there was no internet. Yes may have been identified elsewhere or by other collectors.
Certain dealers reluctant to take books. They are bulky, expensive to store and move around. (I mean the books not the dealers- although…) Perhaps they think there is not much profit in them.
Will internet do away with books? There is a lot on internet I rely on Wildwinds and there are a number of excellent specialist sites, particularly on medieval coins. Many older books have been transcribed or scanned. Aut0matic tran£cripLion is no! alwaus e%act.  

Some of the museum websites are extensive but I find them difficult to find way around rather like the museums themselves. If you know what you are looking for easy but if not then no. Internet has made some easier. You can just search using the words of an inscription or very general phrase such as “Roman silver coin with Zeus sitting” and get lucky.  

However the collector needs books. It is much easier and quicker to use a book and older books are a pleasure in themselves.   





Thursday, 3 May 2018

Saturday, 21 April 2018





















The company you keep.


These are three copper coins I bought last Saturday for the princely sum of £9.00. "I was robbed" do you say?"

The first time you look the bottom coin seems to be a fairly common copper 1 Kreuzer and on a second glance so it is - but it has the inscription FRIEDENS FEIER which refers to the Prussian victory over the French in the Franco-Prussian War. so that makes interesting.

the top right is a standard coin from the Vatican. I always find this series interesting. the left one is a bit of a mystery. It was sold with a quite nice large copper coin from Sicily and it was a fair bet that it is Italian as well. It is not in good condition but you can just about see the arms of the kingdom of Jerusalem  on left and kingdom of Sicily. the obverse has the armoured bust of a king.








I have another copper of Sicily which was struck by one of the Spanish Philips. both have very irregular flans. the other one is virtually hexagonal. I dont know why; perhaps they were struck in a hurry or were not bothered if the coins were circular or not.

Not bad for £9.00



Sunday, 1 April 2018



I always thought this taler was a religious one but when I researched it I found it is a “Truth taler” and was issued for political reasons. Happy Easter everyone. 

In the late 16th Century, Heinrich Julius wanted to implement legal reform. At the time, the legal system was based on the Saxon system of using local elders to adjudicate. This is similar to the Anglo-Saxon witanagemot from almost 1000 years earlier and that which is still in use unofficially or officially in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia and probably elsewhere.
Heinrich Julius wanted to replace the Saxon system with the Roman system where the laws and procedures are codified. (This is actually the Hammurabi system.) But this meant that the local elders will lose much of their influence, and that caused political discord between the two sides.
source 

https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/996168/newp-brunswick-wolfenbuttel-truth-taler

Saturday, 24 March 2018


I purchased an Oxford token today featuring a balloon flight in the Nineteenth Century. It is the first one I have actually seen although I have read about it. Here is an edited version of an article I wrote some time ago.



Isaac Earlysman Sparrow -an early balloon flight

Sparrow was a London Ironmonger and nail merchant who took part in an early balloon flight at Oxford. He obviously enjoyed the experience as he used the flight in his advertising and a series of tokens that were issued in his name.
He paid 50 pounds to a Charles Green “for the privilege of being allowed to encounter the perils of the voyage”. That sum would probably be about four thousand pounds now. Green’s first flight was July 1821 and the one with Sparrow was only Green’s fifth trip. Green was a professional balloonist and clocked up over five hundred flights in his career including a flight from London to Germany.
The flight was in June 1823 and witnessed by a crowd of 5000 [i]A large sum of money collected from spectators watched filling the balloon. The ropes on the balloon caught edge of a chimney and nearly upset the basket. Sparrow waved his flag gaily after balloon righted itself. It reached a considerable height and travelled east. It had an altimeter which had been damaged but they still able to calculate height of two miles. The account describes seeing clouds like an ocean of snow and the “Mosaic pavement of the earth” below. The balloonists used flags to tell if ascending or descending. After a journey of some 18 miles south east of centre of Oxford they descended rapidly near woods of Nettlebed Heath.
At the time of the flight was based at Sun Street and moved to Bishopsgate. He renamed his warehouse Balloon House and later issued a series of farthings to commemorate the event.  As well as nail and ironmongery he was proud of his “leather sauce” – a type of polish or preservative.



[i] The Times 16th June 1823

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The theme of February's meeting was transport, trains, boats and planes. 

There are plenty of ships on coins, from ancient times to date. 

Here are some medallions featuring railways.


top from left: 1925 Centenary of Stockton and Darlington railway by Gilbert Bayes. This large medallion shows the dignity of labour and contrasts with the National Strike medallion of the same period. middle medallion featuring the short lived Aylesbury Railway 1839  by Stothard. Quite a rare piece. right: Grand Junction Railway 1837

middle row another Grand junction medallion and Lyon-Geneve commemorative

bottom row: 1839 to 1914 Dutch railways commemorative.  Swedish medallion in silver comemorating Nils Ericson and right Liverpool and Manchester Railroad. Interesting that it uses word "railroad" not railway.






Monday, 29 January 2018

Do numismatists hibernate? 

A very belated Happy New Year.  January always seems to be a slow month on the coin front. Not much going on. Not many auctions until the Spring. Do numismatists hibernate I wonder? The only interesting items O have seen recently are copies and fakes. I was shown a Roman Republican Denarius recently which the owner could not identify. What he meant was both sides had been identified but not together.

I am no expert on anything and certainly not Roman Republican denarii but this coin did not look, feel or weight right. There was a perfectly straight line on the edge. The colour was wrong and some parts of the design were “out of focus”. It was in perfect condition and not a mark on it. Perhaps I was wrong but the coin did not seem right to me.

If there is not much on the market there is always time to dust off some books and read up on a subject again. If you can’t buy you can read about it. In coins as in much of life you can never know too much.

Have a good year and climb back under the duvet.