Friday Part 2

The day moves on. A man rings with four George IV pennies. That’s better than the usual junk people ring us with. He reigned 1820-1830 and there are only three dates. The 1827 is quite desirable. (That’s dealer talk for expensive).

He rather spoils the effect when he adds.

“They’re all dated 1919.”

Yes, I have yet another typical example of the British education system on the phone.

“That’s George V,” I say. “They are quite common. If they are in the normal condition they turn up in, it wouldn’t be worth your while bringing them down.

“No,” he says, “1919 is rare, I’ve seen them on the internet.”

“What does it say on the internet?” I ask, though I can guess.

“They’re worth between £60 and £900…” I know what’s coming next, “because they have mint marks on them.”

He’s right, they do. In 1918 and 1919 we needed extra minting capacity for pennies so the Heaton Mint and the King’s Norton Metal Company were given a contract to mint over 5,000,000 pennies.  The Royal Mint did over 110,000,000 that year, so the pennies with the H and KN mintmarks are quite scarce, but not exactly rare.  As a boy, in the days before decimalisation, I used to look for H and KN pennies in my change, and always managed to find a few before a new craze took over.

The truth is that if they are in good condition, and I mean the condition referred to as VF (Very Fine) or better, they are worth £30 fo the H and £90 for the KN.

The definition of VF, despite some of the coins you see claimed as VF is “A coin where all the fine detail is present, but not the ‘minute’ detail and signs of wear and tear to its higher points make it obvious that it has been in circulation but only minimally.”

That’s the point – wear from minimal circulation. Most of the pennies we see were taken out of change  and kept in 1971 when we went decimal. They had been circulating for over 50 years. They are almost flat but people say they are in good condition because “you can read all the lettering”. Well, if you mistake Georgius IV for Georgius V, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the lettering is not all it could be.  As you descend from VF you come to Fine, then to Very Good (which is dealer-speak for awful). And then you come to the area which most pre-decimal copper falls into – in the trade it’s called “clear date” which means, as you might guess, that you can read the date and mostly everything else is well worn.

He wouldn’t listen, so I passed him over to The Owner. He’s allowed to be rude to customers. He told the bloke that he shouldn’t believe everything he sees on the internet and that we can supply him with mint marked 1918 and 1919 pennies for 25 pence each if he orders them by the hundred.

I don’t blame the man with the pennies, I blame the internet. There is a lot of misinformation out there. And I blame the education system which is afraid to teach people how to thinkl.

Eventually, the day draws to a close and I queue in traffic to get home. Lockdown really has finished and the nation is back at work.

1921 Pennies Look how worn they are – these are a selected lot in about Fine condition. THey are good enough as an example but a collector would prefer something a bit better. 


31 thoughts on “Friday Part 2

  1. Pingback: Friday Part 2 – Rajeev

  2. tootlepedal

    As a former purveyor of education, I take slight exception to your remarks about not teaching thinking. All my pupils thought a lot, though mostly about when the bell was going to ring, I admit.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I don’t know how it goes in Scotland, but I’m told that in England and Wales, since the government started interfering in the curriculum, no child has ever finished school using the same curriculum that was in force when they started. Mine weren’t even taught history at secondary school.

      1. tootlepedal

        That is a very well made point. They didn’t mess about too much in Scotland during my time but there was a definite tendency as the years went by to try to get everyone to teach the same stuff.

      2. quercuscommunity Post author

        I’ve never seen the point in recruiting professionals and then micromanaging. Just keep the quality up by shooting one every year for poor performance and let them get on with it. 🙂

      3. quercuscommunity Post author

        I started school early because that was what they did in Blackburn in the early 60s. Never did me any harm. It was the Lincolnshire village school with the violent paedophile that I had problems with (that’s not just a general insult – he was sent to jail). Even so, all that time spent beating tables into me has made me a phenomenal performer of multiplication up to 12×12…

      4. tootlepedal

        The point about trying to teach very young children hard things is that you can spend weeks drilling something into them that you could do in ten minute a couple of years later. The time could much better spent teaching children to dance, sing, throw and catch balls and kick balls with either foot. Gross motor skills are sadly neglected in British early education.

        Also, you might get a cohort of children who haven’t been taught that they are failures from a very early age which seems to be the point of the present English system.

        Happy children? What next? I am obviously a dangerous Marxist.

      5. quercuscommunity Post author

        I’m generally in favour of dangerous marxists and, to be fair, old-school Fascists like d’Annunzio, but in the matter of education I can be a touch harsh. I came from the time when dangerous marxists turned my school comprehensive after I’d worked hard to pass my 11 plus, yet allowed a county just 10 miles away to retain their Grammar Schools, and forbade the teaching of formal grammar, and stopped us playing contact sports…

      6. tootlepedal

        As a boy with undiagnosed asthma and unnoticed very one sided eyesight, I would have been happy to have avoided ebbing told how bad i was a sport on a daily basis. Of course none of the teachers at a sports mad school made any effort to see of they could make me better. They were too busy coaching the people who were already good.

      7. quercuscommunity Post author

        That was the pattern in my childhood too – also fopr my kids in the case of one appalling junior school teacher. However, I had spent hours in catching with them (a great deficiency of mine) and they were able to stay enthusiastic and build on it.

        A friend of mine was recently diagnosed as having a congenital hole in the heart – the description of him turning blue when swimming in an unheated pool should, according to his specialist, have allerted teachers 50 years ago. 🙂 Water under the bridge now.

      8. tootlepedal

        As far as I know, everyone who tries can sing. In thirty years I never found a ‘tone deaf’ child. You just need to be taught by someone to whom singing does not come naturally. It is the same with maths. Many maths teachers find it hard to understand why some people can’t understand maths without trying.

        It is no coincidence that singing and maths are two of the most disliked subjects at school.

      9. quercuscommunity Post author

        Well, I can open my mouth and project a noise, but it is more of a growl and it doesn’t follow the tune too closely. I have been told by a music teacher that I could be taught but after fifty years of being told |I couldn’t sing (and being made to mime in school concerts) I don’t have the motivation.

      10. tootlepedal

        I joined a choir after I turned 70 prior to which I couldn’t sing in tune at all. It turns out, as in so many other areas of life, that practice and a good teacher are a wonderful combination.

      11. tootlepedal

        You do need motivation but once you have experienced singing with 80 or 90 other people, it doesn’t take much to keep you coming back.

      12. quercuscommunity Post author

        I don’t know where they got their love of sport from, though I do know where the aggression and love of physical violence comes from. 🙂

Leave a Reply