It was the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire meeting on Monday night. Twelve middle-aged men huddled in our outdoor coats, listening to a wild-eyes enthusiast talking about the Morgan Dollar. Thanks to a combination of cold, facts and hunger I gradually retreated into a small ball and started losing the will to live.
To sum up the talk the Morgan Dollar, an American icon, was designed by George Morgan, an Englishman, and minted from 1878-1904 and again in 1921. It is a big coin and was produced in the early days of mass-production in five American Mints. This meant that the dies used for striking the coins wore out, were accidentally damaged, were re-cut or repaired and were used in different combinations. Coin collectors have been cataloguing varieties of dollar, caused by these imperfections, which are known as VAMS (from Van Allen and Mallis, the two leaders of the hobby). It is a hobby for people with an eye for detail and (let’s call a spade a spade) too much time on their hands. Normal collectors are a bit strange, I admit, but this is taking collecting one step beyond.
Still, it’s nice to see an enthusiast at work, even if it would have been more relaxing to have had less detail. Detail is for the real enthusiast. Dabblers like me need a bit more explanation and would have liked to have heard more about his hunt for coins rather than the hundreds of facts he threw at us.
All this, of course, reminds me that there is just one more meeting until I give my talk on medallions and the history of the 20th Century. There is a lot to sort out before then, including how to use the Open Office Presentation software, and whether it’s going to work on the screen in the meeting room. Once that is done I can concentrate on avoiding the faults I am so keen to mention when reviewing the talks given by others.
However, as the poet Cowper reminds us in the Olney Hymns, God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform. I will be talking about that, because one of the medallions in the collection relates to Cowper and Olney. I’mm hoping that by some sort of magic a random collection of medals and facts becomes a wonder of numismatic entertainment.