“Rare” Coins and Dark Thoughts

It sometimes feels like we’re under siege in the shop.

Every day we get phone calls or personal callers with “rare coins” to sell. I don’t mind it if the coins are old (by which I mean pre-decimal) because there is at least some hope of something interesting cropping up. The “rare coins” that provoke me to thoughts of homicide are the ones that are reported as being rare in the press, on the internet,or, even worse, on ebay.

Recently we’ve had several reports of rare 2007 £2 coins. It’s a commemorative issue which marks the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. The rarity is not in the coin itself (with a mintage of over 8,000,000 it’s actually reasonably common) but in the placement of the edge inscription.

The motto AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER is impressed around the edge. According to the intellectual giants who stoke the hellish fires of rare coin “knowledge” the lettering should be right way up when the Queen’s head is uppermost. If it is upside down, the coin is the “rare” variety.

2007 £2 coin

2007 £2 coin – reverse

Now, this is where things start to come unstuck. The edge inscriptions are put on by a roller before the final striking and people who know about the process are happy that the inscription is going to land in accordance with the laws of chance – 50% will be right way up and 50% will be rare varieties worth £300 on ebay.

Or, to look at it another way, there is no rare variety. There’s also no evidence of one selling for £300 on ebay in the last month or so.

Turning to the actual prices realised on ebay, which are often very different from the fanciful figures put on the coins that don’t actually sell, I found one that sold  for £500, one for £102, one for £23, three for £20 and only two others in double figures.

Some people clearly shouldn’t be allowed on ebay without supervision.

Thirty three coins, after allowing for ebay fees, sold for £2 or less, with several selling for 99 pence.

That’s from a total of 155 sales in the last 6 weeks.

I will let the figures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

Thinking and Invention

I had some time to think today. Having changed blood testing days. and gone in earlier than usual,  I was surprised to find myself seventh in the queue. However, I used my time profitably and I’ve designed a new cycling suit for Tootlepedal. He had a fall from his bike recently and I think he needs some help from technology.

Basically, we are talking bubblewrap. You need something that is going to cushion a fall but not cause an unfortunate bounce, as rolling down a hill out of control is likely to do more damage than just falling flat on your face.

It will insulate him from cold and protect him from injury but will burst on impact without bouncing.

I have quite a lot of old bubblewrap put to one side, as I always think it will come in useful, so now all I need to do is ship it up to Scotland and get Mrs T to do the wrapping before she lets him out again.

I’m thinking that the ultimate development will be thermal bubblewrap underwear, and an appearance on Dragons’ Den. Hopefully I can persuade them to part with a large down payment and spend it on a Caribbean cruise before they catch up with me.

Next time I have a blood test to wait for I’m going to work on The Trolley Problem. It’s Number 6 on this list. I’m particularly keen on working out a solution to the part where they throw a fat man onto the tracks. It seems a touch unfair on the more portly amongst us (though I must obviously admit to a personal interest in the welfare of fat men).

However, it’s time for tea now. I made a fish pie last night, including dill, and I’m looking forward to eating it.  Philosophy is all very well, but fish pie is better.

Horse Blog Link

Here’s the link to the horse blog I mentioned on Sunday – Sense and Sentimentality.

Sorry it took me so long to find, I’m not very organised.

I have a number of horse-based stories from the Great War, which all confirm in my mind that it’s better to be shot at than be anywhere near a horse. However, it’s still an interesting subject, despite my misgivings.

Have a look – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Natural History from the Car

As I drove to Newark this afternoon I noticed a group of rooks whirling aimlessly round the sky. On looking closer I realised they weren’t being aimless, but were in fact mobbing a buzzard. here were about 20 of them, though it wasn’t that easy to drive safely and count rooks at the same time.

Shortly after that I passed a roadside tree full of strange ball-like growths in its leafless branches – mistletoe in its natural state.

A bit later in the same journey I had to brake sharply when a large fox decided to run across the road. You don’t see many foxes in the middle of the day, and this is the first time I’ve ever had to put the brakes on to avoid one. It looked healthy and well-fed so I’m not sure why it needed to be out and about. Sometimes things are meant to remain a mystery.

The only other bit of natural history was a buzzard roosting in the roadside tree. Always nice to see, but let’s face it – they aren’t rare these days. It just goes to show what’s about, even on a grey day of driving round doing errands.

The picture is a random pansy. They are out in the garden so I thought it would be OK to show one.

 

 

Paper Flags

I first became interested in paper charity flags when I saw some in an antique shop in the early 1990s. They were stuck to a card and had obviously been in a scrap book. This rendered them useless to a collector in many ways but it had allowed the previous owner to write dates and information next to them, so they were more interesting in another way.

As you can see – ambulances were a popular subject. The stories of privately raised medical units, and the people who staffed them could be a book in itself. This list  gives you some idea. Add Lawrence Binyon to it. He often gets overlooked.

Over the years I added a few more, even buying a few off a lady who had kept one of each that she had sold for the Red Cross in 1918. She was sitting with her grand-daughter at an antiques fair in a Suffolk village hall. She was happy that the flags had found a good home, and I was happy to have spent a few minutes chatting with a lady who had eighty years of history behind her. That was in the days when it used to be worth stopping when you saw a sign by the roadside.

Horses were popular too. Eight million horses died in the Great War, plus countless mules and donkeys. They had, as far as I know, no strong views on Belgian neutrality, and didn’t get the right to vote in 1918 after their contribution to the war effort. All in all I think they got a raw deal.

There’s a good Word Press site on military horses but I can’t find it at the moment – I’ll have another look tonight.

As with almost everything, I have various parts of the collection scattered in a variety of boxes around the house, and have a patchy knowledge of the subject. If only I’d applied myself to learning more about the subject I might be an expert with a PhD on litter and a TV series on The Things We Threw Away. Stranger things have happened.

I took a few photographs recently, so here are a few examples for you to look at.

Belgians were also popular in the Great War (see Hercule Poirot for example) and ended up here in great numbers. This link told me a lot I didn’t know about them. I’ve seen the odd plaque about, including one in the Nottingham Guildhall but I never really looked into the subject. I believe that Belgians did have strong views on Belgian neutrality – look here and here for two who certainly did.

An Odd Dunnock

I’ve never seen a Dunnock on a feeder before, but after several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to catch a picture of this one on the floor and in a willow arch I was lucky to catch it on the feeder. It took several beakfuls of peanut, hiding behind the feeder all the time, before striking this pose and then flying off.

One chance. One shot. Sorry it isn’t more interesting but it’s all I could get.

I’m sure it’s not the only Dunnock to use a feeder, just the only one I’ve seen. Has anyone else seen them on feeders?

Last week, whilst walking to work, Eddie spotted a group of four parakeets near Wollaton Park. They seem to be growing in numbers, having been reported in ones and twos over the years. We saw a single bird on the farm on two occasions a few years back. (If the Hall in the link looks familiar you may know it better as “Wayne Manor” from the latest Batman film.)

These photos are some I took in the Mencap Gardens yesterday. The snowdrops aren’t showing and there don’t seem to be any crocuses, but the daffodils are coming on nicely. This calls for a planting binge at some point in the year.

Finally, a few skies, with some assistance from a camera that is considerably cleverer than I am.

The Polytunnel News

Julia has secured funding to replace the cover on the large polytunnel. She has also secured agreement from the company doing the work that they will bring the work forward to March. There are so many broken polytunnels after recent weather that the original date she was given was in May.

She’s like that. I have to be constantly on my guard or I’d be forever doing housework and tidying up after myself instead of blogging and drinking tea.

The problem is that they don’t really have much to work with. There’s no mains water and no electricity. As a result of that there’s no light to work by when daylight fails. When there’s no large polytunnel the only shelter they have to work in is the container, which is a bit small for the full group and is not very light at the best of times.

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Mencap, Nottingham – the broken polytunnel

You can’t work outside all day in the cold, and the smaller tunnel is set up for growing space, not as a work area. For the last few weeks they have been packing up halfway through the day and walking back to the youth centre.

It’s been a dispiriting time, but with agreement to funding and a bit of better weather things are on the mend.

Fortunately it looks like the other tunnel, though well overdue for a new skin, will last another year.  That gives time for her to raise the money, and as it’s a smaller job, the group ((and volunteers) should be able to do the work without help.