History in a Junk Box

There was a time when dealers used to have junk boxes full of clapped out coins, broken bits and base metal medallions. I certainly did. When I bought mixed boxes at auction the detritus from the bottom, after being carefully checked, would end up tipped in the junk box.

When buying, the junk boxes of other dealers were my natural habitat. I’ve bought some good stuff out of junk boxes. It seemed like they would never end. Then ebay came along and  it all ended up on line.

The contents of the box could cover anything from ancient coins to petrol station giveaways, via Georgian medals, Victorian adverts and pre-decimal coins. One of the staple items was the mass produced commemorative medal. They really started in a big way with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and ended in the 1930s with a flurry of royal events – George V’s Jubilee, the abdication (though this is shown only by the  items of Edward VIII (which aen’t really rare, whatever dealers may say) and, finally, the coronation of George VI.

This is the medallion Nottingham produced for the 1897 Jubilee of Queen Victoria

This is the Edward V!! medal from Nottingham – note the foresters supporting the coat of arms.

The colour changes for 1911, as do the supporters on the coat of arms, but the general idea remains the same. There is a second version of the medal, often known locally as the unofficial version (see below).

There is a medal very similar to the 1911 coronation medal – made for the 1914 Royal visit. It isn’t just in recent years that the Royal Family has been unpopular, there were seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria and one on Edward VII. In 1914, to encourage public approval George V embarked on a programme of visits. I’ve seen the itinerary for his visit to Nottingham – he visited Arnold and Mansfield too, though I think he just waved at Arnold in passing.

Royal visit to Nottingham (above( and Dundee (below).

Things seemed to tail off after that, with a much smaller selection being produced for 1953. To set it in perspective, rationing was still in force in 1953, and the fledgling Matchbox company struggled to produce model cars when metal supplies were diverted to fighting the Korean War.

This is one of the later medals, from Mansfield Woodhouse.

I have plenty more to show you yet, so don’t worry about me running out for the next few weeks,

17 thoughts on “History in a Junk Box

  1. Pingback: Thoughts of Mayors and Medals | quercuscommunity

  2. Laurie Graves

    This is probably a very silly question, but what did people do with those medals? Did they actually wear them. Or where they always just intended to be gathered in a box? Whatever the case, they do represent quite a bit of history.

    1. quercuscommunity

      They were often given out to school children. I presume they wore them as they often have pins on the ribbons. Others were bought as keepsakes. There is a vast range including official boxed Royal Mint medals that were 2″ inches across and come in bronze, silver and gold. They cost about £5,000 in gold, so I’ve never actually had one. 🙂

  3. orvillewrong

    Like me I dare say you can remember the good old days when ww1 death plaques were sold off in lucky boxes now you rarely see them or they cost a fortune e on Ebay, My blog today will probably make you smile!


Leave a Reply