Category Archives: Collectables

Freddie Mercury – Stamp Collector

A couple of days ago I was entering Philatelic Numismatic Covers (PNCs) on our eBay site. They are generally dull, boring, difficult to pack and hard to enthuse about. They are the bastard offshoot of the combined imaginations of the low-lives who make a living from selling brightly packaged, expensive and tawdry stamps and coins. In this case they have come together to produce a coin/stamp combo, which, to my mind, offers little to a collector of either.

It’s an interesting keepsake, but that’s all. Unfortunately they are marketed aggressively and often sold for what I consider unreasonably high prices.

If either of my children came home and told me that that he had taken up employment with one of the marketing companies responsible for these abominations I’m not sure what I’d do. I’d certainly hide the fact from my neighbours and claim they were an estate agent, people trafficker, or even a politician,  rather than admit the horrible truth.

Anyway, there I was, with a heap of dispiriting detritus on my desk, trying to put a brave face on it, when I noticed  a familiar name on one of the covers – Bulsara.

As you may know, I am a great accumulator of useless trivia.

One thing I know is that the family name of Freddie Mercury was Bulsara.

It took me a few minutes but I was able to tie the evidence together.

There’s a picture on Freddie Mercury’s Wikipedia page showing the blue plaque on his childhood London home, with the caption “English Heritage blue plaque at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, London”

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I rest my case…

So this is indeed a PNC addressed to a Mr Bulsara at the home address of the Bulsara/Mercury family.

How good is that?

I managed to piece together some other information – Stanley Gibbons, the famous stamp dealer, have something about B. R. Bulsara, father of Freddie Mercury, and his stamp collecting. Young Freddie, it seems, had a stamp collection in his youth.

Eventually his father sold his collection, and Freddie’s collection, to raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust.

I even found out that Freddie Mercury’s sister lived in Sherwood, and he used to visit her. I’ve lived in Sherwood over 30 years and I never knew that.

So there you go, it’s not the greatest piece of rock memorabilia, and Freddie Mercury may never have seen it, but it did lead me into some interesting new areas and help me add to my accumulation of trivia. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if he’d lived long enough to start collecting stamps again, once the lure of sex and drugs and Rock and Roll faded and he started looking for something more fulfilling in his later years.

It’s here on eBay if you want to look. The appalling title is by the owner of the shop who has, in my personal opinion, the wrong idea about titles. He just loves to cram the title bar with what he considers important words. The concepts of less being more, syntax and elegance of language have little place in his life. However, the concept of him paying my wages does have quite a large place in my life so I write what I’m told.

In other words, don’t blame me for the bloody awful title.

You can, however, blame me for everything else, including the inclusion of the Queen song titles. I have no shame when it comes to trying to make things sound interesting, and trying to make silk purses out of a pig’s ear.

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1986 Commonwealth Games Commemorative £2 coin

 

The Medallion Collection

It’s a very modest collection, which was, partly, my intention when I started it.

The idea was to buy a medallion relating to every year of the 20th Century, and to do so with discrimination and economy. (Before you ask, that’s 1900-2000 because I can’t be bothered to argue about when a century begins and ends).

I’ve collected a number of things in my life but I’ve never really made a sustained effort, or had sufficient cash. Not that I’m pleading poverty, just that my eyes are bigger than my wallet. Once I’ve bought a few things I start getting ambitious.

Look at this one – linking piers and medallions. What better for a man who likes piers and medallions? It’s nearly 200 years old and it isn’t expensive in collecting terms. However, I can’t see Julia being too happy to find we were on baked potatoes and beans until the end of the month because I’d blown the housekeeping. She’s very patient with me, but even she has her limits.

The first medal celebrates the life of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. I presume it was made in 1972 to commemorate his death. It doesn’t have a pier on it, but it does have a map of Africa and some interesting history behind it.

He was 63 when he died, just two years older than me. In that time he had achieved independence for Ghana and established a fame that still endures. That doesn’t leave me with much time for achieving something as I’ve loafed away my first 61 years and all I have to show for it is a small collection of  medallions.

The second one marks the Cambridge University Press’s move away from hot metal to digital printing.

I like medals made from re-used metal. I have one made from the copper of the Foudroyant )one of Nelson’s old ships) and one made from the lead of Selby Abbey. The Selby Abbey one was sold to raise funds for rebuilding the fire-damaged abbey. I really must find them…

It’s interesting to hold something in your hand and think that it used to be something else, though I suppose all metal was once something else, even if it was just ore.

This isn’t an elegant medal but it marks the end of an era. It was £6, including a box and explanatory leaflet.

I aim to spend around £5 on a medallion, which allows me to complete the century for around £500 and lets me buy something regularly. A collection needs regular additions. Or an addict requires a regular fix, depending on how you view collectors.

Looks like I missed the midnight deadline. I remember thinking it was 11.40 and time was pressing. Then I woke up at 12.10 sitting in the computer chair. I left it another eight hours before posting, as my ability to edit improves greatly after sleep.

 

A Picture for Laurie

The opening picture is a medallion of William Shakespeare by Paul Vincze, commissioned for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. You may remember the Moon Landing Medallion I pictured a few days ago. I mentioned I had this in my collection and Laurie said she’d be interested in seeing a picture of it. I laughed in a hollow fashion, as it’s just one piece of the multifarious detritus that flows around our house.

However, I have to start tidying and last night one of the first things I put my hand on was my medallion collection. To be more accurate, some of my “medallion collection”. The some is easy to understand, the inverted commas were added as I haven’t really collected so much as accumulated. There is a difference, as we tell people when they come to the shop with bags and boxes and even buckets of coins, stamps, cigarette cards, medals and postcards. We do banknotes too, but they don’t usually appear in such quantity.

An accumulation is just an aimless gathering of bits and pieces, often put together with an eye to quantity and economy rather than a theme. It’s often called a collection, but that doesn’t make it one. I could call a salad food, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s just colourful plate decoration.

I’m in anti-salad mode tonight. Julia is cooking and has just told me that our baked potatoes and veggie burgers will be accompanied by salad. This is indeed a cruel and unusual meal.

However, back to collections, a proper collection should have a theme, it should improve your knowledge of the subject and it might even increase knowledge of a collecting field.

Having rather foolishly agreed to give a talk at the Numismatic Society – Monday, 9 March 2020 – Peace & Tribute Medallions of The Great War – I am having to knock that part of my collection into shape. (Make a note in your diary if you are in the area).

The trouble is that there isn’t much information about them and I’m having to trawl the internet and write to museums. So far the museums have been friendly but have had no information, and the internet is tricky. If you search individual towns for information something sometimes crops up. But if you just search generally the third or fourth reference I found was one of my posts on this blog.

I’ve pictured a couple of examples below.  In a week or two I’ll probably find this post cropping up as part of my research!

An Unusual £1

We had a busy day today.

At one time I actually had a queue of people waiting to sell me stuff. It wasn’t very exciting stuff, but it is all grist to the mill.

We also sold our error £1. It appears to be struck using the new dies for stamping the bimetallic 12 sided coin, but it has been struck on the blank of the old gold coloured round pound.

Here they are, side by side.

 

It had been the source of some discontent on the part of my co-worker, who didn’t want to buy it when it was offered to us while the boss was on holiday. I stepped in and bought it.

He wasn’t happy but sometimes you just have to make a decision. It isn’t always the right one, but after all the years I spent buying and selling I should be able to make the right decision most of the time.

Fortunately, it seems to have paid off.

A Meeting with History

I thought I’d managed to sort out the “featured page” problem, but it was still there when I switched on tonight. I think I’ve fixed it now.

I’ve also fixed the small font problem. I must have adjusted it to 50% at some point when I was jabbing viciously and swearing at the slow-loading netbook. It’s now back to full size and I can read it.

This does not, of course, mean that it is worth reading.

Today I put a jital up for sale – a coin I’d never even heard of before.

It’s a small billon coin of Genghis Khan, minted shortly after 1200. Billon is an alloy of copper and silver. The Romans used it. Henry VII also used it, but he used it so that he could use some of the silver for financing his extravagant existence. His tampering with the coinage was so bad that it became known as the Great Debasement.

Meanwhile, I’m still slightly suspicious about the identification of the design as an elephant, It appears to have pointy ears, for one thing…

eBay, Bulldogs and Royal Visits

I found out about how to unpin the post I mentioned previously. It didn’t take much in the end, I looked at the page as I was getting ready for a new post, saw it was marked “sticky” and prodded a few random buttons until it cleared.

I’m feeling quite tech savvy now,

Today’s main project was writing up a collection of prize medals belonging to a dog breeder who appears to have had a good deal of success in France in 1924 and 1925.

If you want a test of your creative writing skills try writing up a pile of dog prize medals in an attractive yet accurate way. They are lovely medals, but they are a real test of writing skill.

I’m also working on a drop-down menu for Royal Visit medallions. These used to be quite popular before the Great War. These are some of the better ones.

 

This is for the Royal Visit to Derby in 1906

 

 

 

This is for the opening of Kew Bridge in 1903

Struggling with Technology

The netbook is a little slow and awkward compared to my laptop, but it’s still charging, which is more than you can say for the laptop.

I’ve even managed to put some photos on, starting with the Fat Rascals from Wednesday. I’ll put some others on as I go along.

It seems that there is a USB port on the netbook, but I had failed to see it. – I’m not the sharpest tool in the box.

I tried downloading from the camera, but the netbook kept trying to reformat the card. Reformat sounds like an improvement, but as most of you will know it really means destroy the several thousand photos I have carelessly stored there. I don’t want to do that.

I’m going to have to improve the way I store my photos before something bad happens to them.

Eventually I loaded some photos onto a flash drive and transferred them that way.

At work, amongst  other things, I loaded up some engraved coins., known as Love Tokens. They are quite common on Victorian coins and often crop up in mixed lots of coins. They were, it is usually said, engraved by young men for their girlfriends.  If that is true there were a lot of talented young men out there.

Engraved sixpence

Engraved sixpence

 

Engraved farthing

Engraved farthing