Sunday, 10 December 2017

Coins - small change 

I saw a good spread of coins today at my favourite dealer. I bought five out of ten or so Nineteenth Century Italian coins. Some of them neither I nor the dealer had ever seen before. They included coins from the Kingdom of Italy set up by Napoleon, Lombardy/Venetia controlled by Austria and Tuscany. An interesting set of coins in reasonable condition. None worth a fortune.

Why were they all low denominations? They were one, five or ten cent coins so what happens to the larger coins? I was offered a large collection last week of over a hundred and fifty coins. Not one large denomination coin at all .

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The last meeting of the year was a talk by Shailendra Bhandare from the Ashmolean Museum        entitled 'Introduction to Islamic coins from the Indian Subcontinent'. It was very interesting and well presented. a fascinating introduction to this series. 

The coin illustrated here is a 1 Lats coin from Latvia. This is one of their excellent series of festive designs.  

There are many coins to chose from with a Christmas theme to suit all pockets. Latvian coins are some of my favourites. see the latest edition of Coin News magazine for more. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The theme of the day was War and Revolution.

This week has marked the centenary of the Russian Revolution and the end of the Battle of Passchendaele. This week is Remembrancetide. 

these are a tray of coins from 1917.

the following tray is an assortment of items from centuries of warfare.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The theme for Saturday's meeting is the collector's bookshelf. For my 12th birthday I was given a copy of Spink's Catalogue of English Coins. It was complete revelation of the diversity and scope of the series.

Since then I have built up a mini library of books. this is photograph of just a part. It gives an impression of the many different series of coins, tokens and medallions available to the collector.

One of the best pieces of advice is "buy the coin, buy the book!". there is always something more to learn.

What books got you interested? what books are essential?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

An Elephant never forgets 

The theme for this month's meeting was the elephant on coins. members brought along various specimens from ancient Rome to modern Eighteenth Century tokens of Coventry.

Here are some elephants. Top row

Great Indian Peninsula Railway free pass 1880s?
India 2 rupees 2003
Ancient Indian coin 3rd Century AD?
bottom row
East Africa and Uganda Protectorate 10 c 1912
Ceylon 2 stivers 1815

Elephants embody strength and gentleness, power and faithfulness. An excellent theme for coin collecting!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Thirty Years’ War

The Thirty Year’s War was a bright spot in a fairly dull course on Seventeenth Century history. I was interested in the causes of the war, the ups and downs a different countries joined in and the longer term consequences. It was a bit like one of those schoolboy fights where everyone piles in and no-one knows who is fighting whom or why. Sometimes parties were on wrong side because hated one country more than another.  
You can look at it in many ways, a religious war, and an economic and social fisticuffs or not even a war at all but a series of unconnected wars which just happened to coincide. One could argue that English Civil War was part of it. The Stuarts were connected with the war. There are obvious parallels with Twentieth Century conflicts. It is a sort of genuine Game of Thrones.
Who would not like phrases such as “the defenestration of Prague” which comes from this period and “Kipper und Wipper”. This was a term arising from the period of extreme inflation, caused by trying to fund the fighting.  
I have several times thought of collecting coins relating to the Thirty Years’ War. This covers a wide period and most of Europe and many religious and political theme.
If you look that up on the internet there are some excellent guides.
However they tend to concentrate on more expensive coins and medallions.
Illustrated are some cheaper ones.

Top row; Ferdinand of Austria, silver coin of Besancon on the Rhine and Archdiocese of Bremen in Germany while occupied by Frederick of Denmark
Middle row: two copper coins of France Cugnon and Dombes
Bottom row: Pope Innocent X and  jetton of Richelieu with old coin ticket.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

19th August   Summer coins – coins from hot countries

Recently despite being August and in theory the middle of Summer the weather has had a touch of Autumn. Nights get chillier and some days it is windy and wet. We have probably had our Summer!

Warm weather makes me want to collect coins from hot countries. I did some research to find the hottest countries on earth. No great surprises, India, Africa the Middle East, but also Mexico and America. No trace of England there! If you look at the current currency of those countries they are all interesting and well designed. I expect some were minted at the Royal Mint.

Yes I do think of coins from hot countries on a hot day. That usually for me means India. Coins from the subcontinent are quite reasonably priced and easy to get. Modern coins from Tunisia, Sudan, Saudi, and Somalia are probably not collected but in their way fascinating.
On a cold day I might think of cooler places but that is another story. 

Illustrated here are coins of Somalia, Egypt, Morocco and South Arabia.
then an Islamic coin possibly a Mamluk coin from Aleppo. The coin is a brockage. the Indian coin is from Jaunpur sultanate 1458-79 tanka. 

Other members displayed coins from the Caribbean and Middle East. 

a member brought this crown sized Persian coin. Any ideas what it is? 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Some Ecclesiastical Coins

For our July meeting we looked at coins from Prince Bishops, Electors and even a 20th Century token from Birmingham. That token was issued for a bazaar in 1929. it lasted three days so that is
 a lot of bric-a-brac and white elephant!

Germany Archdiocese of Bremen under Frederick II of Denmark 1642. Occupied by Danish troops during the Thirty Years War

1.    Austria Salzburg Cardinal Archbishop Matthew 1520s. Salzburg issued coins from 10th to 18th Century, they were always of a high standard. Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg (1469 – 30 March 1540) was a statesman of the Holy Roman Empire, a Cardinal and Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg from 1519 to his death.
In the course of the Reformation Lang's adherence to the older faith, together with his pride and arrogance, made him very unpopular in his Salzburg diocese. As early as in 1523 he was involved in a serious struggle with his subjects in the City of Salzburg, and in 1525, during the German Peasants' War, he had again to fight hard to hold his own. Cardinal Lang was one of the chief ministers of Charles V. He has been compared with Cardinal Wolsey.

2.    Germany Salz Land Minz 1692. 2 oval shields with the arms of Salzburg left, and of the Archbishop right, hat above, value in a circle below.

3.    Belgium Liege John Theo of Bavaria 1752 Johann Theodor of Bavaria (3 September 1703 – 27 January 1763) was a cardinalPrince-Bishop of RegensburgPrince-Bishop of Freising, and Prince-Bishop of Liège. Another long running series of coins

4.    Birmingham Cathedral 1928. Sixpence issued for a fund raising bazaar to finance restoration.

5.    Germany Trier 1694.  The Archbishop-Elector also had great significance as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

6.    France Lyon 1250. Inscription PRIMA SEDE GALLIARV “The first bishop’s see in France”

7.    Switzerland Chur Bishop Ulrich VII von Federspiel.  1692-1725

Saturday, 17 June 2017


The British Commonwealth -

Many people start collecting the coins of their own country and then either go back in time or travel the world (speaking collectively). In the 1960s and 1970s it was easy to get some commonwealth coins imply from the coins in your pocket. A South African penny, Australian sixpence or New Zealand half crown. They were same size as British coins. You could put together quite a collection. Nowadays things have changed. You occasionally find Gibraltar pounds or Channel Islands money in your pocket. I once got an Ascension Island 50 p.

I suppose most people would just pass these on in their change as quickly as possible but the budding coin collector or even the more experienced one will put them aside.

The theme for our meeting today was coins of the Commonwealth. Members brought year sets from Canada, India, New Zealand and Falklands. Single coins were well represented. There were some fascinating early issues which were cut or countermarked Spanish dollars. I knew these were used in the Caribbean but had no idea they were also used in Gibraltar and Prince Edward Island.

Why did colonies have their own coins and not just use British issues? The answer is it was illegal to export British currency for many years. Local merchants sent goods to England and agents here would sell them and send manufactured goods to the colonies. Capital stayed in Britain. It was not until recently that colonies and commonwealth states had their own currency. Sometimes it was based on sterling or a local currency such as rupee or dollar.


Monday, 12 June 2017

ONS programme 2017/2018

19th August   Summer coins – coins from hot countries
9th September   The Elephant.

 21 October    The coin collector’s bookshelf.      and the AGM

11th November          1917 War and revolution 

2nd December           speaker?

13  January   Winter coins   

10 February  Ships, planes, and trains. 

11  March      Islands, peninsulas and enclaves in the Mediterranean.
14  April         Commerce and trade in empire – Rome or Britain

15  May          Politics: revolution and independence
12 June         Women on coins.

 14 July        France

 August        Indo-China and the East Indies

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Places you want to visit.

The theme for May's meeting was "random countries you always have wanted to visit- money no object!" 

I start with a medallion commemorating the US Bicentenary in 1976. Now over 40 years ago! Hardly seems possible. the medallion cot me £3.00 and is great fun, but who is forgiving whom? And what do we (or you) have to forgive? 

Perhaps in 200 hundred years there will be a Brexit commemorative similarly inscribed about forgiveness. Or perhaps not. 

These are random items. A silver medal from Natal in South Africa given to schoolchildren for Edward VII's coronation in 1902. Next a token from Isle of Man, then a coin from Palestine and a medallion from India for Queen Victoria. 

the next line includes a 50 p from Gibraltar, a coin of Borneo and Malaya and a Cypriot coin. 

the bottom line has a transport token from York, a Canadian token, a Russian copper and finally an Australian Coin Club medallion. They must have had a good first year!

Apologies some of the photos are wrong way up. 

Coins are great fun and they are a cheap way of "travelling" abroad. 

What links my choices? They are places I would like to go, apart from York where I have been. They all apart from Russia have a connection with Britain.  

Monday, 17 April 2017

A handful of coins

bought for £24.00 on Easter Saturday April 2017, but what are they?

The large copper coin is a 1761 coin from the reign of Adolf Frederick. It is not in bad condition. the interesting thing (to me) is it is overstruck on an earlier copper coin. If you look at the reverse at about 4 o'clock there are three dots or lines and at 8 o'clock the faint image of the host coin between the arrow and 1 OR. Next task to identify the host coin!

Having looked at it again the obverse (with AF) looks double struck. Two of the three crowns are in two places.

The others are all Indian. The larger one is Kushan and the two smaller coins are probably South Indian. The copper coin far right middle line seems to be one of those "octopus man" chola? coins. Next job try to narrow these down. I have a few books on Indian coins and there is plenty on the web to help.

Indian coins have always fascinated me as they are relatively cheap but full of interest. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

This month's meeting was on the theme of mintmarks. Here are some coins that were displayed. 

Top Row; Spanish copper coins all Segovia Mint

The first two on the left was found at Worm’s Head, Gower, and North Wales in 1830s. Spanish coins were used a ballast in ships, at least one of which was wrecked off the Welsh coast. Shame they did not use gold coins for ballast!

Second Row: Copper 8 maravedis 1618 Madrid Mint mark. This coin has been revalued at 16 maravedis and back to 8 maravedis, 4 maravedis 1620 B for Barcelona

Third Row 1789 2 sous Cayenne Colony A mint for Paris, Isles du Vent (Guadeloupe) H mint for La Rochelle and  Two 1815 Decimes both BB Strasbourg mint. One coin has L for Louis and the other N for Napoleon. The two coins mark the siege of Strasbourg. Bought for £2.50 each in 2002. Quite a bargain.

Second tray : all London Mint Roman coins.

You used to be able to buy these for a few pounds. A member commented that she never seen so many London mints coins in the same place!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Back in the day

We have all heard stories about when you used to be able to buy gold coins for a few pounds and if you sent some money to a coin dealer you would get some collectable items sent to you. It would be nice to travel back in time and buy the coins, tokens or medals that were cheap because no-one collected them then. There must be series now that are overlooked.  I wonder what they are- as people collect most areas? What will people collect in the future? And more importantly will there be collectors to buy them?
The internet has transformed buying and selling coins as any major auction can be followed anywhere in the world. It has also made identifying and valuing coins much easier. The days of finding a box of interesting, unidentified valuable coins that are going for a song are likely to be over. There seem to be less coins coming on to the market from field or detectoring finds. Quite correctly a lot of those go straight to museums.  I know a dealer whose patience must be sorely tested every time someone brings a carrier bag of proof sets and Churchill crowns.
I suspect there will always be a steady demand for coins, medals and tokens. Numismatics satisfies our interests in history, economics, politics and a host of other areas.    Coin prices seem to continue to be strong because the best quality material will always be in demand.
The March meeting was on the coins of the USA. here are some coins members brought along

American coins
A1 French Coinage for Canada and Louisiana:
In 1721-1722 the mints at Rouen (mintmark B) and La Rochelle (mintmark H) produced a copper nine deniers coin for the colonies using copper planchets imported from Sweden. In the summer of 1722 over a half million (534,000) nine deniers coppers were shipped to Canada. Canadians disliked this coin because it was underweight and was not accepted in the British colonies.
A 2 Rosa Americana Tokens 1722-1724:
William Wood, owner of several copper and tin mines, hoped to make a profit producing coins for use in Ireland and America. The coins were made of an alloy called Bath metal composed of 75% brass, 20% zinc (mixed with tin and bismuth) and 5% silver and were to weigh slightly less than half the weight of English coins. Wood produced twopence, penny and halfpenny coins dated 1722-1723. These underweight coins were not generally accepted by the colonists.
A3The Virginia Halfpenny of 1773:
These coins, designed by Yeo, were made at the Tower mint in London. The Revolution broke out just before they were not used until after the war. The halfpenny displays the bust of George III on the obverse with the shield of Virginia on the reverse.

A4 Massachusetts 1787 cent produced locally
B1 The Washington Double Head Cent Token:
This is one of four interrelated Washington tokens of which three bear the date 1783 and two have the designation of "ONE CENT". The Military Bust token was designed by Thomas Wells Ingram and was struck at Bolton's Soho Mint in Birmingham, England between 1820 and 1848, with the 30's or 40's appearing more likely as the token was still in circulation at mid century. Little is known about the Double Head token. It is usually considered to be an imitation of the military bust by an unidentified Birmingham mint.
B2 Washington Military Bust Tokens:
The obverse depicts a laurel wreathed bust facing left in a military uniform with the legend "WASHINGTON AND INDEPENDENCE" and the date 1783 commemorating the end of the Revolutionary War. Clearly, the bust is meant to represent George Washington. However, the central bust punch used for this series was originally produced and used for the Wellington peninsular tokens. They were ordered by J. Picard of Hull from the Birmingham factory of the button and medal maker Sir Edward Thomason. The Wellington tokens were struck at Thomason's press with dies and punches cut by Thomas Halliday, a die-sinker located on Newhall Street in Birmingham.
B3 Merchant token 1850s
Bust of Liberty left, LIBERTY on tiara, PROFESSOR. JOHNSON'S. SOAP & STARCH POLISH. around, 317.BOWERY.N.Y. curves in front of portrait. Rv. Federal-style eagle, FOUNTAIN. BLACKING BRUSH & FRENCH BLUEING around, UNITED. STATES. arcs above eagle's head.

C1 Not one cent
This is an unofficial Civil war period token
C2 And a store token
C3 The American Exhibition was a world's fair held in West Brompton London, in 1887 in the year of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee.
Support for an exhibition had been sought in 1886, but with a loss of support and the British government insisting that an American exhibition not compete with the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, the American Exhibition was deferred to 1887.
The American aim of participating was to display the latest agricultural, mechanical and textile products and inventions from the United States, but the main attraction was the Wild West show featuring Buffalo Bill, part of Colorado's contribution

C 4 American exhibition
The Pan-American Exposition was a World's Fair held in Buffalo, New York, United States, from May 1 through November 2, 1901. The fair occupied 350 acres (1.4 km2) of land on the western edge of what is now Delaware Park, extending from Delaware Avenue to Elmwood Avenue and northward to Great Arrow Avenue. It is remembered today primarily for being the location of the assassination of President William McKinley.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Balkan Bonanza

This month’s meeting featured coins from the Balkans.

Top row: two worn but interesting copper coins from Moldavia and Wallachia. These Eighteen Century coins were struck by the Russians using metal from captured Turkish cannon. These coins were in two denominations - 1 para/3 dengi and 2 para/3 kopeks.

A small Roman coin Caesarum Nostrorum around a wreath containing VOT/X. Mint mark E SIS – Siscia in Croatia the mint mark also includes a rising sun  but what does that signify?
Is the E a Greek numeral 5?

Middle row: PHILIPPI VIC AVG from Macedonia. Philippi was established by Philip II of Macedonia to take control of the neighbouring gold mines and control the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis. Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the assassins of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius, at the Battle of Philippi in the plain to the west of the city in October 42 B.C. They released some of their veteran soldiers, probably from legion XXVIII, to colonize the city. In 30 B.C., Octavian reorganized the colony, and established more settlers there, veterans possibly from the Praetorian Guard and other Italians.
Coin of Caracalla and Julia Domna from Morcanopolis in Moesia Inferior. Moesia  was 
Roman province along the south bank of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Serbia and the northern parts of the modern Republic of Macedonia (Moesia Superior), as well Northern Bulgaria and Romanian Dobrudja (Moesia Inferior).
Modern 1938 20 dinara from Yugoslavia

Bottom row: coin of Philip II from Mesembria in Thrace;
coin from Moesia Superior under Trajan Decius;
Greek coin of Macedonia with a plumed helmet
and finally a local Celtic copy of a Greek stater  

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The first meeting of the New Year was on the theme of Turkey and Asia Minor.

Coins ranged from Ancient Greeks, Roman Provincial, medieval and Ottoman. this is a fascinating series and there is a lot of scope for the collector.