Tag Archives: coins

It’s Hard Work Being a Prince

I’ve no doubt that Prince Harry is a hard-working and sincere young man, by the standards of royal princes. Same goes for his brother. And his father.

However, if any of us were the children of royalty I’m sure we would all be doing a great job too. It is, I suggest, quite easy to be a patron of charities and suchlike if your mother or grandmother is the Queen.

I’m pretty sure that in addition to helping charity I’d be up to opening a few things, laying some wreaths, visiting the warmer parts of the world on “official duties” and causing outrage by dressing as a Nazi for a fancy dress party or taking all my clothes off at a party in Vegas.

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Four Generations on Stamps

Ah, no I was wrong there. I’ve never dressed as a Nazi for a fancy dress party or stripped off at a party in Vegas or any other venue.

I suppose that’s because I had parents who taught me how to behave. Harry’s father is not, despite his green credentials, a great role model, and his mother, well what do I say? I know opinions are divided on Diana, and I’m not going to speak ill of the dead, but if she’d been from a council estate I think Social Services would probably have taken the children away for their own good.

Prince Philip has been a bit of a handful over the years, but he’s worked hard and only retired at the age of 96. The Queen is still going and strikes me as a decent sort.

I can’t think of anything bad about George VI.

Edward VIII, on the other hand, the selfish, playboy, petulant Nazi-lover, is not a man I have any great regard for.

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Prince Harry

George V, I know little about, though I don’t think he was much of a parent.

Edward VII was a multiple adulterer as both King and Prince of Wales.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the family has form for self-indulgent, petulant behaviour, they have different values from mine and I’m finding myself becoming steadily more radical as I grow older.

I thought I was supposed to get more right wing as I aged but I’m actually thinking about starting a revolution and lining the Royal Family up against a wall with a firing squad.

Various members of the Royal Family are shown, appearing on coins, stamps and School Attendance Medals.

Silver, Survival and Salvage

Here, at last, is the information on the Gibraltar £20 coin I mentioned a few days ago.

There is a tradition in Numismatic circles for collecting coins from shipwrecks, indeed we had a talk on this subject just a few weeks ago at the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire. Sadly, I had one of my senior moments and completely forgot about it, even though I had intended going. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of shipwreck and treasure and it’s a collecting field that has always interested me. However, you can’t collect everything.

There has also been a fascination for collecting relics of ships. It is still possible, if you go round antique centres, to pick up small barrels and oddments like paper knives made from the deck timber of ships like the Warspite, Iron Duke and Ajax. Copper from Nelson’s Victory has also been used to make souvenirs, such as this copper fob from the British and Foreign which we currently have for sale on eBay.

Despite the photos, it’s only about an inch across.

 

More recently, I bought some key rings made from the bronze of the Queen Mary’s propellers, and also have some copper cash coins from the Admiral Gardner, which sunk on the Goodwin Sands in 1809.

This year, I have seen mementoes made from the silver recovered from the SS Gairsoppa.

The Gairsoppa, originally built as the War Roebuck, was completed in 1919 by Palmers of Jarrow, just in time to miss the Great War, and was named after the city of Gerusoppa in the state of Mysore. She had one touch of drama in her career in the Merchant Fleet, with just one touch of adventure when she ran aground  at Fulta Point on the South Eastern coast of India in 1930.

Palmers closed in 1933 after a long struggle to stay in business during the depression, and the unemployment this caused precipitated the Jarrow March.

In early 1941, whilst carrying a cargo of pig iron, tea and silver, she joined a convoy at Freetown, Sierra Leone to complete a voyage from India to the UK. Running short of fuel, she had to reduce speed, drop out of the convoy and head for Ireland to take on coal. On 16 February 1941, she was spotted by a Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft and was attacked by U-101 later that day, being sunk by a torpedo attack.

There were 82 men on board. Only one lifeboat launched successfully and out of the six men on board three died in the next two weeks. The boat capsized on the fourteenth day and the Lizard lifeboat was only able to rescue one survivor, Second Officer R. H. Ayres.

Sunk by submarine, fourteen days in an open boat, five men dying before rescue…

I can write the facts, but I can’t come up with anything that remotely does justice to the experience. While writing this post I found this item on an on-line forum – amazing to read the words of the man in question. His account doesn’t match up with the Wiki entry, but I suspect it’s more accurate.

The researcher who contacted him did a fine job, as modesty could have prevented us ever knowing the full story.

The eleven British casualties are recorded on theTower Hill Memorial, or, in two cases, on  a headstone in the cemetery at Landewednack. The seventy one Indian seamen are commemorated on the Chittagong War Memorial.

The epic nature of the story does not end there, because in 2011 an American salvage company located the wreck and, under licence from the British Government, began lifting the silver. So far they have recovered 61 tonnes, or just over half of the 110 tonnes known to be on board. At 15,000 feet deep (half a mile deeper than the RMS Titanic) this is the record for a salvage operation.

Of course, if the ship didn’t contain silver this would be considered plundering, piracy or desecration of a war grave. It’s amazing how a mountain of silver can make the moral compass swing.

In 2014 the Royal Mint struck 20,000 Quarter Ounce Britannias, using some of the silver.

The Gibraltar Mint followed up in 2016 with a specially made £20 coin, featuring a seafarer design and containing Gairsoppa silver.

The title of the coin is taken from a John Masefield  poem, For All Seafarers. It isn’t, in my opinion, one of his best, but it does make a number of telling points.

For all Seafarers

Even in peace, scant quiet is at sea;
In war, each revolution of the screw,
Each breath of air that blows the colours free.
May be the last life movement known to you.

Death, thrusting up or down, may disunite
Spirit from body, purpose from the hull,
With thunder, bringing leaving of the light,
With lightning letting nothingness annul.

No rock, no danger, bears a warning sign,
No lighthouse scatters welcome through the dark;
Above the sea, the bomb ; afloat, the mine;
Beneath, the gangs of the torpedo-shark.

Year after year, with insufficient guard,
Often with, none, you have adventured thus:
Some, reaching harbour, maimed and battle-scarred,
Some, never more, returning, lost to us.

But, if you ‘scape, tomorrow, you will steer
To peril once again, to bring us bread,
To dare again, beneath the sky off ear,
The moon-moved graveyard of your brothers dead.

You were salvation to the army lost,
Trapped, but for you, upon the Dunkirk beach;
Death barred the way to Russia, but you crosst;
To Crete and Malta, but you succoured each.

Unrecognised, you put us in your debt;
Unthanked, you enter, or escape, the grave;
Whether your land remember or forget
You saved the land, or died to try to save.

John Masefield

Not the Worst Day I’ve Ever Had

Today I packed parcels. I wrote eight slips out and remembered, after the sixth, that it was no longer 2019.

I moved on to load a gold 50p piece on eBay (it was Paddington Bear at St Paul’s Cathedral). I won’t trouble you with my views on “collectable” coins or the debasement of national character that accompanies cartoon animals being depicted on coins. However, I will let you imagine what these views are.

Then, just in case the excitement of being back at work became too much, I photographed some 1930s auction catalogues. That calmed me down.

A number of people rang me for advice on “rare” coins. On even rang me twice. I thought about telling him he was an idiot but customer service training prevented this.

You can tell how well everything went from the fact that I spent the whole day thinking it was Friday. It was only when Julia informed me that tomorrow was not Saturday, as I thought, that I realised my mistake.

We had vegetable stew for tea. Then we had cheese. It was very relaxing.

Now I’m writing a short post and I’m going to have tea and biscuits before going to bed.

As days go, I’ve had worse.

A Look at the Coin Business

This is a £20 coin from Gibraltar. The £20 is an unusual denomination which some countries, including the UK, have started using for commemorative coins. You can’t spend it, because nobody will accept it, but they can charge quite a high price for it because of the face value. The silver is worth about £6 and the collectable value is not great in most cases.

It is, in short, a bit of a rip-off.

Don’t be fooled about the legal tender aspect, when you look into it the definition of legal tender is very tightly drawn. It appears that legal tender can be used to pay court costs and fines, but nothing else. Nobody else needs to accept it, even if it is legal tender.

This basically means that the Royal Mint can make coins which don’t have to be taken back. We encountered this problem recently when we tried to pay some £5 coins in at the bank. They informed us that they no longer take them. Normally we pay £5 for a UK coin and most of them go straight to the bank as nobody collects them. We can’t do that now, so we can’t pay £5. People, quite rightly, don’t like that. We now tell them to try their bank or post office to see if they are still taking them.

The same is true for £20 and £100 coins, though as far as we know, no bank or post office will take them. We actually sell £100 coins for less than face value at times. It’s a ridiculous side effect of the modern coin trade. Read this article for an insight into what goes on, but before you do, may I just add to the information they provide. If you sell a £100 coin on eBay for £130 as they say, you will pay eBay and PayPal approximately 15% of the cost in fees, so the £130 immediately falls to £115.

Buy coins because they are beautiful, historical, interesting or educational. Or buy them as a present for future generations. If you want an investment ask a bank manager about it, not a numismatist.

This is the reverse of the Gibraltar coin, which is a lovely design. It commemorates the efforts of the Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Here’s the best value £100 coin on eBay with a Buy it Now offer of £69.99. I just checked all the ones that sold over the last month. There were 12 sold. One made £140. The other eleven all made less than face value.

There is something called seigniorage, which I don’t understand completely. It’s a branch of Economics, which is also something I struggle to grasp. Basically, if it costs the US Mint five cents to produce a quarter they make twenty cents every time someone puts a quarter in their collection. If you produce collectable quarters, such as the State Quarters Series, this can add up. In fact, it adds up to $3 billion. The USA is the best at this, but the Royal Mint is making a big effort to get a piece of the action.

Tomorrow I am planning two more posts, one of which will be to tell you more about this Gibraltar £20 coin. It is very interesting.

 

 

Told by an Idiot…

Sorry about yesterday’s short post, it was cold, I was under the weather and I left myself short of time.

Today it has warmed up a bit and I have more time so I’m hoping this post will be a little longer. I’m still on a light diet but I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday. It’s nothing serious, and, being digestive, it’s not something you want me writing about in detail.

And, as I sit in the shop hunched over my keyboard and chewing on medication, this is what I’ve been putting on eBay.

Before I get into my stride I’d like to say that if Kylie the Koala and Kenny the Kangaroo were soft toys, fridge magnets or even medallions, I’d think they were a bit of fun, and a nice touch of laid back Australian humour.

But they aren’t, they are on coins.

I’m out of step with modern coins and that these fill a niche in the modern market. I’m not going to run them down, or criticise the people who collect them because all collecting, in my view, is good for the brain, and possibly for the soul. But for £12.95, which is what one of these would cost you, you can get a lot more for your money.

You could buy a delightful 1940 wren farthing with traces of original lustre – this is the year that Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain took place. It’s historical and it’s not easy to find in  this condition, and the beauty of the design (one of my favourite British coin designs) relies on simplicity and elegance, not a big splash of colour. It will cost you £3.25.

For £3.99 you can buy a Picturegoer postcard of a screen star from the days when they really were stars.

If Edward VIII is your cup of tea (as in doomed romantic hero or Nazi-loving playboy, I make no judgement, it’s your money) we have a selection of coronation badges around £6.95. They aren’t rare because they made a lot before they knew the coronation was cancelled.

A very nice, lightly circulated 1950s £1 note could be yours for £11.50. We have a lot of banknotes in the shop because the other two both collect them and are keen members of the local banknote society. That’s the nice thing about a shop like this – you’d never go into a shop to buy bread or toothpaste and be engaged in conversation about them, or be invited to join then relevant society, would you?

Finally, if you can stretch to £19 we can provide you with a rather nice George III Halfpenny of 1806. That’s right, he was mad, he was an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and he lost America, all that history for just £19.

As for this, you’d think that a manufacturer of hugely successful Formula 1 cars and iconic sports cars would be above this sort of thing.

I know there are worse things happening in the world, but what were Ferrari thinking off?

And who thought it was OK to put lipstick on a Koala?

And finally, a quote from Macbeth –

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

It explains the title and leads into today’s poem. I often quote the first four lines to Julia. One day I’ll try to learn the other ten. I really ought to do it soon before senility sets in.

Never such innocence

Despite all my moaning and mention of boredom I’m having a reasonable time at work and, let’s face it, the money is enjoyable. After 25 years of precarious self-employment I’m just starting to relax with the idea there will always be money at the end of the month.

Here are some of the things I’ve been working on recently.

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The first one is a railway whistle – a traditional ACME Thunderer, as you can see, with the “LMS” stamp of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. It came to us with a number of other bits, including a pair of First World War Medals, a membership card for the LDV, which was the forerunner of the Home Guard, and a nasty looking bomb or shell splinter.

The whistle disappeared in the post and we were just getting ready to reimburse the customer when, according to a note he sent today, it appeared. It’s taken a month. Such is life on eBay.

Private Mobbs served in France at the end of the war and hasn’t left much trace of his military activities, but, despite being in a reserved occupation, he was prepared to give up his nights and days off to train with the Home Guard to defend the country all over again.

The next photographs show poppies on coins. The commemoration of the Great War is becoming increasingly mawkish as time goes on, and the recent centenary celebrations have made things worse. Everybody, it now seems, is an expert on the First World War, and everybody has an opinion. I have my own opinions about many of these opinions, but I’ll keep them to myself. All I’ll say is that Blackadder Goes Forth is a comedy, but many people treat it like a documentary.

 

This is a crown issued by the Falkland Islands. The Falklands are not strangers to war, with a major naval engagement there in 1914, as well as the more modern war.

 

The second is issued by the UK, the first time (2017) that the UK has issued a commemorative of this type, though other Commonwealth countries have done so.

The story of then poppy as a remembrance of the Great War is an interesting one, and although we tend to think of it as a British thing, we owe it to an American academic called Moina Michael. She took the poppy on board and popularised it, and wrote a poem of her own in response to McRae’s famous In Flanders Fields.

They are poems of their time, and are probably not quite in line with modern taste, so the poem of the day is Larkin again, with MCMXIV.

 

Distressing Devilment and Diabolical Deliveries

Where do I start?

Last night I came home to find a card through my door telling me that Royal Mail had tried to deliver a parcel, but as it needed signing for they had taken it back to the depot to await further instructions. This was irritating as I’d instructed the auctioneer who sent it to send it to the shop, and he had confirmed he would. There should have been no need for me to collect it.

There were two books waiting for me, but I’m going to gloss over that as I really don’t need more.

At 5.10,  well inside the planned delivery window, Currys arrived with their delivery. This was good, and one less thing to worry about. It was also a demonstration that Currys do get some things right.

We rose at 6.30 next morning, one of us being quite unhappy with the situation, and the other being grumpy because she had had no breakfast.

When we walked to the car all the windows were down. This has happened before. It has even rained in before, as it had done this morning. Fortunately a quick wipe and the heated seats soon cured the damp. I finally got round to Googling it later in the day. There are two causes – faulty wiring or pressing the unlock button by accident – if you have the keys in your pocket, for instance. Last night I sat down with the keys in my pocket so this is a likely scenario. I’m hoping it won’t happen again.

The parcel was  duly picked up. As I waited I struggled not to strike up a conversation with the next man in the queue. Generally I find this quite easy. But I’m generally not stood next to a man with a head full of metal and mutilations. He had massive earlobes with rings in, a row of studs doen the centre of his head and two “horns” built up under the skin of his head. I was impressed by his dedication to ugliness, but also slightly repelled.

It was disappointing to walk out of the office and watch the spawn of Satan drive away in a Peugeot 208. It’s practical for commuting and great round town, but when you think End of Days you don’t really think Peugeot.

Julia cheered up after we stopped for breakfast. We don’t usually have McDonald’s twice in a week – honestly!

At the surgery I picked up my replacement prescription, and, the “lost” prescription tucked in it, though slightly messy. I suspect they had a good look for the lost one and found it before deciding to irritate me further by giving me both.

Of course, if I now take it into the surgery they will accuse me of having had it all the time.

I dropped Julia off at work, went to work myself, did some parcels, put a few things on eBay and did a bit of admin.

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Silver Eagle, Silver Britannia

An Amazon driver came to drop something off for me but had to ring to find where I was – it seems they aren’t trained to look at shop fronts and spot the numbers.

 

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One tenth of an ounce of 22 carat gold – A £10 Britannia and a $5 Coin – the stated face values have little to do with the gold content and the exchange rate is not accurate either

When I got into the car at 4pm, the quiz show I had been listening to in the morning was being repeated. I had to listen to 15 seconds that I’d heard in the morning, and after that I was able to listen to the parts I’d missed when I’d switched off the car in the morning.

I’m now waiting for the people next door to come home because they have a parcel for me – the Amazon system went wrong somewhere, I was sure I’d asked for a delivery to work, but the system shows I ordered it for delivery to the house. It’s a cheap camera case so I don’t know why they just didn’t leave it in the porch like they usually do.

Today’s coins are from a couple of sets produced by the Royal Mint – gold in 1997 and silver in 2003 – with blurb about friendship between nations. The coins are decent enough – Philip Nathan has done some great Britannia designs and the Walking Liberty by Saint-Gaudensis an all time classic coin design. The branding, on the other hand, could do with some work. Words like Ladies, Freedom and Liberty are usually associated with products other than coins.