Six Thousand Shillings Sitting on a Shelf

We started sorting shillings at 10.00 and finished at 14.30. If we’d started four hours earlier, or spent another hour and a half sorting, it would take the tongue-twisting title to a whole new level.

A sixish start spending six hours sorting six thousand shillings sitting on a sagging shelf is not a sentence to be attempted lightly, or in polite company. Even for an alliteration addict like me, it’s a bit much.


Silvery sorted shillings sitting in a sorting tray

The sets ofย  shillings are slowly taking shape. Coincidentally my back is also taking on a new shape, which is much more hunched than it was a couple of days ago. Shilling Sorters Spine is shortly going to be written up in The Lancet.ย  Or possibly the BMJ. One of my friends was once written up in one of them after the premature detonation of a cannon.

We were re-enacting the English Civil War in the Sealed Knot somewhere in Somerset (that’s not a security measure – I just can’t remember exactly where). The mop for swabbing out the barrel was a bit worn and it allowed a glowing ember to survive the operation. When the powder was rammed home the ember ignited the charge while he was still ramming.

This is clearly a bad thing.

Fortunately, because he was using good technique, the ramrod merely took the skin off his palms as it whistled across the “battlefield”. The blast also blew off his shirt sleeves and peppered his arms with fragments of black powder.

And that, when one of the doctors realised this was a rare chance to write up the hazards of muzzle-loading cannon, was how he appeared in the medical press.

We never did find his shirt sleeves…

Just to give you some idea of what the blast looks like I’ve purloined a photo from the web.

Image result for sealed knot cannon


Another of my mates was shot in the small of the back (mere inches above anywhere that would have provided a highly amusing and ribald anecdote) by a cannon at Naseby. But that is another story.

44 thoughts on “Six Thousand Shillings Sitting on a Shelf

  1. Pingback: We appear in the Local Paper… | quercuscommunity

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  3. iantimothy1

    Thirty years ago I fired a mussel loading rifle at a target taped to a tree (don’t ask) and yes, the gun was lawfully owned. Imagine how I felt when the lead ball came back and missed my head by a whisker. The velocity of the round was so low, the ball just bounced back off the heavy bark of the tree! Filthy stuff, black powder, but very rewarding. Ian (superb post – many thanks)

    1. quercuscommunity

      The shillings will be going to a large dealer who sends out thousands of lists every month. He has customers who buy such things in large numbers, having spent years and thousands of ยฃ on building up his postal business.

    1. quercuscommunity

      Compared to the USA, which I know from my TV viewing to be full of rattlesnakes and serial killers, we have no worries apart from indigestion and repetitive strain injury. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. jodierichelle

        You must be quite immune to danger AND the TV news to survive in the United States. I believe that’s why we all have such stellar senses of humor.

      2. jodierichelle

        You’re right about TV – I have to watch a bit of news at the end of the day just to be sure we haven’t gone to war or made every household own a pink flamingo or anything like that.

  4. Laurie Graves

    Wow! Between sorting Between re-enactments and sorting shillings, you live a dangerous life. Take care!

      1. Laurie Graves

        Always a bit of a blow. And here’s another one for you. The show wasn’t filmed in Maine. It was shot in Mendocino, California. Hope this isn’t too much of a shock for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. quercuscommunity

      Yours is more mature and metrical than mine. Mine is merely built around the puerile premise that an extra “h” is going to appear in sitting and sagging as people struggle through it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. quercuscommunity

      We could have as many as four thousand people on the field in the great days of the society, with cannon, muskets, swords, horses and psychopaths – so our safety record was pretty good. Honestly!


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