Category Archives: Coins

Some Good Customers

We have had some good customers in the last couple of days.

One came back with his grandfather to spend his Christmas money and spent quite a lot on filling the gaps in his 50p collection. Generally 50p coins aren’t expensive, even if you are buying uncirculated coins from us. The Kew Garden one is the most expensive you generally see in circulation, though the Blue Peter and Swimming Olympic Error coin do cost more.

However, please note  that the Kew Garden coin has to be the 2009 one, the 2019 issue is slightly different and is less expensive, having been issued as part of a commemorative set. The Blue Peter coin, dated 2009, is the winner of a competition and is the rare one. The design was re-used for the Olympic Athletics coin in 2011, which is much commoner. Finally, the error coin – buy one in the original packaging – a loose one could be a fake.

Peter Rabbit. Good in a book or a pie, but not so good on a coin

Some lucky people, who started collecting at the right time found Kew Garden coins in their change, and some bought the Blue Peter ones before anyone knew that it was going to be a rarity. I believe that we sold them for £3 each when we had our original stock from the Royal Mint. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

We had another young collector in today, but he collects old coins and spent his money on a single coin – a florin of Edward VII. They are notable coins because they have a distinctive portrait of Britannia, engraved by an engraver called de Saulles. I’m trying to recruit him for the Numismatic Society, because our demographic profile is such that we only have a couple of members under 60. and we need to keep recruiting.

Finally, a lady called to see if we had ant coins of Henry VIII. Her daughter is reading a series of historical novels set in Tudor times and thought this might be a way to kindle an interest in history. We did have some coins of Henry VIII and I’m pleased to report that we now have one less.

I don’t think I have any relevant photos so will see what I can find.

Stephen Hawking 50p

A Night of Coins and Thoughts of Medallions

Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire tonight and one month to go before giving my presentation.

I have done a few slides for it and tried them tonight after the speakers had finished. It didn’t work. That’s the trouble with using Open Office instead of Microsoft. Fortunately we have at least one member on hand to give IT advice and he tells me I can save my slides as PowerPoint slides. I will check tomorrow, as I really need to get moving.

It was short paper night tonight. First up was a video clip of an American talking about the design process for the Californian State Quarter, which I have never felt to be particularly inspiring. The State Quarter Program (sic) is interesting from a numismatic point of view (and an economic one, too) but some of the designs could be better. The Californian one won through in a competition

Second was one of the members talking about his series of books. He has spent 40 years researching the note-issuing banks of England and is now publishing his research (in 43 volumes!). That’s one per county and he has now done six. There is still some way to go. He also showed us a cheque from his collection, written by one member of a local banking family to a prominent local banker. That was quite interesting, I like anything with a story.

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Obv)

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Rev)

Another member gave us a short talk on the future of the 1p and 2p coins. They are now made in copper-coated steel, to keep production costs down. Nobody knows for sure how much they cost to make and the Mint won’t tell us, but the old bronze ones are now worth more as scrap than they are as coins. However, it is illegal to scrap them, so don’t try it. In the USA, they  do release the cost of making coins – 2.1 cents to make a 1 cent coin last year. No wonder governments want to stop making small denomination coins.

Then we had a presentation on measuring the density of Roman coins to check their purity, and looked at the purity in relation to various historical events. It was very interesting, but by that time I had been sitting still for a long time and was beginning to feel chilly, so was glad when it ended and I could get up and walk round a bit. I’d been sitting still so long that I had trouble getting out of the chair. This won’t be a problem next month.

Liskeard 1940 – a story involving a future Prime Minister

The Smuggler’s Box

A few weeks ago The Owner was sorting boxes of old copper coins. This included a lot of worn out coins of George III, and he noticed that one of them seemed very light when he picked it up. It also didn’t sound right when he examined it (“examine” in tis context means “hit it with another coin then dropped it on the counter” – these are truly clapped out coins and their value is unlikely to be reduced by his treatment).

1797 Penny – George III and Britannia. It’s worn and the date has gone, but we know it’s 1797 because of the size – all the “cartwheel” coins were dated 1797.

It turned out to be a box made from a 1797 Penny. I’m not clear how they do this, but suspect it involves hollowing out two coins, rather than just splitting one. I had a look on YouTube but drifted off into how to make a knife using cheap Amazon tools. It looks fun but I think my days of dexterity may be behind me.

I just thought it was a box made from a penny, but when we checked up on eBay we found a couple of others, described as smuggler’s boxes. They clearly aren’t, for a number of reasons. One is that the penny is very worn and smuggling was probably out of date by the time this penny was worked. The other is that it’s not really a practical size for smuggling. What are you going to get in something that size? It might be a pill box (if you like your pills to taste of copper) or a patch box. I know very little about patches. Deep down I think it was probably made by an apprentice, or even an engineer with time of his hands and a lathe at his disposal. However, it’s an interesting novelty and I doubt that you could make one for £30.

Modern penny for size comparison

I’m not one to let reality get between me and a sale, so Georgian Smuggler’s Box, it became. Or possibly spy box, I said “It is tempting to think it may even have been used to transport secret messages by a spy in the Napoleonic Wars.” Note how I didn’t say it had been, or even that it was likely. And having put the idea out there, I waited . . .

It sold in auction for a reasonable sum – just over £30. The only other one on eBay at the moment is in much better condition, but at £180 it’s a lot more money. If I had the good one I’d feel I had to keep it in a cabinet. With the one we sold, you can shove it in your pocket and show people – a much better use of an object.

Can you see the join?

1797 Penny – a conundrum, and possible even a smuggler’s box.

Newark Siege Shilling 1645

 

Not sure what happened to the original post, but Julia sent me a copy of the post from her notification.

During the Civil War (1642-51) Newark was besieged three times. It was an important transport hub where two roads (The Great North Road and the Fosse Way), and the River Trent met. Whoever controlled Newark had a great deal of influence in the conduct of the war.

Though the road system has changed a bit over the years, the Great North Road still appears under that name on my satnav, though it is variously known as the A1 or A1(M) these days. It was Ermine Street in the days of the Romans, and the the Fosse Way retains its Roman name to this day, as it makes its way between Exeter and Lincoln. It’s also known as the A46 when it passes Newark. The Trent is still in use as a working waterway with barges conveying sand, gravel and oil. It’s interesting to note that our transport system hasn’t changed that much in 2,000 years.

Anyway, back to the sieges. The siege of 1643 was insignificant, and lasted from 27th to 28th February. It was, to be honest, little more than a visit and the Parliamentarian forces were completely outclassed in terms of leadership and fighting spirit.

The second was February 29th to March 21st 1644 and ended when Prince Rupert’s  relief force mounted a surprise attack and trapped the army of Sir John Meldrum. They were eventually allowed to march away, leaving their equipment behind – 3,000 muskets, 11 cannon and 2 mortars.

altNewark Siege Coin 1645

The final siege lasted from 26th November 1645 – 8th May 1646. THe Royalists were on the ropes by this time but they had spent the years building defences and Newark was one of the few places still capable of resisting. One of the Star Forts is still there – the Queen’s Sconce. In the old days, before we started being more careful of our heritage I marched up and down it re-enacting the siege. It was hard work, even without people actually trying to kill me.  The third siege featured 17,000 Parliamentarian troops, including Scots, against the town. The people, of Newark suffered cold, hunger and disease (around 1,000 dying of typhus and plague). Eventually the King surrendered to the Scots commanders at The Saracen’s Head in Southwell and the town surrendered two days later. It is still a pub, and still named The Saracen;s Head if you fancy a drink in a place with history.

The coin in the header picture is a Newark Siege Shilling. Siege coins were made for use in besieged towns so that normal life could carry on. They were made from silver, such as plates and spoons, and cut to weight to equal the weight of silver in coin of the realm (which were made of sterling silver in those days). Newark coins are dated 1645 or 1646 and are available as halfcrowns (XXX), shillings (XII), ninepences (IX) and sixpences (VI). They are almost always slightly untidy in the striking – hardly surprising when you consider they were made from flattening household silver and then cutting it into lozenges before hammering between home-made dies. Sometimes they even have remnants of decoration on them from the original donor item. They are often found pierced as loyal Royalists used to wear them as pendants in remembrance of the King.

Newark Siege Shilling 1645

Newark Siege Shilling 1645

There are other siege coins (also known as obsidional coins) from towns in the UK, though many of them have been challenged as “fantasy pieces”. Pontefract, Scarborough, Carlisle and Cork all seem to have struck coins, some of which were of far worse quality than the Newark coins.

Obsidional comes from the Latin obsidionalis, meaning “of a siege”, hence the “OBS” stamped on the Newark coin.

Britannia – a woman with a past

I nearly forgot I had to post. It seems harder to remember now that I have stopped numbering the posts.

I really don’t like the days after Bank Holidays. It’s nice having Monday off, but as I always have Wednesdays  off I have to go into work for just one day. It feels like I’m just getting going when I have to stop again.

Today we did parcels until lunch, having had several orders over the weekend. Then I did halfpennies. I’m preparing a listing for halfpennies from Charles II to George III. The earliest is 1673 and the latest just reaches the early 1800s.

In those days they used Latin names for Kings – Carolus is Charles. It’s clearly been in circulation for some time. Judging by the Victorian coins we had in our pockets when we went decimal it was probably in use for a hundred years. Britannia came into existence with the Romans and first appeared on the coins of Hadrian before many centuries of obscurity. She reappeared on the coins of Charles II in 1672, modelled (according to Samuel Pepys) on  Frances Stewart, later the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. There are various accounts, some stating that she resisted the advances of Charles II, others that she didn’t.

Over the years she gained a Union Flag on the shield, a trident (in place of the spear) and a helmet. In 1673, when this coin was new, we were at war with the Dutch, Sir Christopher Wren was knighted and the Chelsea Physic Garden was opened. When it was a year old we took back the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and changed the name of the city of New Orange back to New York.

Over the next few years, whilst this coin was still shiny, the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral started and Titus Oates began the Popish Plot.

Interesting times . . .

Newark Siege Coin 1645

During the Civil War (1642-51) Newark was besieged three times. It was an important transport hub where two roads (The Great North Road and the Fosse Way), and the River Trent met. Whoever controlled Newark had a great deal of influence in the conduct of the war.

Though the road system has changed a bit over the years, the Great North Road still appears under that name on my satnav, though it is variously known as the A1 or A1(M) these days. It was Ermine Street in the days of the Romans, and the the Fosse Way retains its Roman name to this day, as it makes its way between Exeter and Lincoln. It’s also known as the A46 when it passes Newark. The Trent is still in use as a working waterway with barges conveying sand, gravel and oil. It’s interesting to note that our transport system hasn’t changed that much in 2,000 years.

Anyway, back to the sieges. The siege of 1643 was insignificant, and lasted from 27th to 28th February. It was, to be honest, little more than a visit and the Parliamentarian forces were completely outclassed in terms of leadership and fighting spirit.

The second was February 29th to March 21st 1644 and ended when Prince Rupert’s  relief force mounted a surprise attack and trapped the army of Sir John Meldrum. They were eventually allowed to march away, leaving their equipment behind – 3,000 muskets, 11 cannon and 2 mortars.

Newark Siege Coin 1645

The final siege lasted from 26th November 1645 – 8th May 1646. THe Royalists were on the ropes by this time but they had spent the years building defences and Newark was one of the few places still capable of resisting. One of the Star Forts is still there – the Queen’s Sconce. In the old days, before we started being more careful of our heritage I marched up and down it re-enacting the siege. It was hard work, even without people actually trying to kill me.  The third siege featured17,000 Parliamentarian troops, including Scots, against the town. The people, of Newark suffered cold, hunger and disease (around 1,000 dying of typhus and plague). Eventually the King surrendered to the Scots commanders at The Saracen’s Head in Southwell and the town surrendered two days later. It is still a pub, and still named The Saracen;s Head if you fancy a drink in a place with history.

The coin in the header picture is a Newark Siege Shilling. Siege coins were made for use in besieged towns so that normal life could carry on. They were made from silver, such as plates and spoons, and cut to weight to equal the weight of silver in coin of the realm (which were made of sterling silver in those days). Newark coins are dated 1645 or 1646 and are available as halfcrowns (XXX), shillings (XII), ninepences (IX) and sixpences (VI). They are almost always slightly untidy in the striking – hardly surprising when you consider they were made from flattening household silver and then cutting it into lozenges before hammering between home-made dies. Sometimes they even have remnants of decoration on them from the original donor item. They are often found pierced as loyal Royalists used to wear them as pendants in remembrance of the King.

There are other siege coins (also known as obsidional coins) from towns in the UK, though many of them have been challenged as “fantasy pieces”. Pontefract, Scarborough, Carlisle and Cork all seem to have struck coins, some of which were of far worse quality than the Newark coins.

Obsidional comes from the Latin obsidionalis, meaning “of a siege”, hence the “OBS” stamped on the Newark coin.

Newark Siege Shilling 1645

Newark Siege Shilling 1645

 

Day 107

This is a picture of a coin that were are often asked about. It’s a single metal £2 coin. They were produced between 1986-96 and although they were supposedly for circulation you rarely saw one and they didn’t really catch on. They were replaced by the bimetallic type, originally planned for 1997, but not actually released until 1998.

We often get phone calls from people, who think they have a rarity because they have never seen one of the older sort. This is easily explained by the fact that the old type is at least 26 years old and even then you would need a good memory fro a coin you rarely saw.

However, I cannot explain the fixation some people have for the “solid gold” version. They ring up, they tell us they have the solid gold version, they won’t accept that it is extremely unlikely and they invariably demand that we tell them where to go to get it confirmed. The truth is that there were very few of the gold proof versions made. They were expensive and it’s unlikely that anyone ever took them out of their box, threw the certificate away and spent it as a £2 coin.

There were millions of them minted. Mintage figures for the 1995 Dove of Peace coin is 4,391,248. Mintage for the gold version is 1,000. So, even if all things were equal, the odds are 4,391 to 1 against it being a gold coin. If you allow for the fact that it is extremely unlikely that any were taken out of their packaging (let’s say this happened to 10 of them – bearing in mind they cost about £1.000 and people are going to be careful with them) the chances are 439,125 to 1 against it being a gold coin.

If I were to get one call a day about this, the chances are that I will die of old age several times over before someone rings with a loose gold coin.

However, this doesn’t stop people ringing, convinced that I’m an idiot because I don’t believe their brass coin is gold.

The coin in the picture is gold. It is, as you can see, in a plastic capsule inside a box, with a certificate. And, no, I don’t know why a coin with a mintage of 1,000 needs a numbered certificate with a number over 2,000, but I’ve seen it before

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Obverse

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Obverse

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Reverse

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Reverse