Tag Archives: coins

Nothing Much to Say

I’ve run out of things to say. I never thought that would happen.

Part 2 of yesterday’s post is on hold, because the day has failed to provide the necessary spark of inspiration. I could force it but I’d rather do it well.

This morning I had to confess to my sister that I had (a) lost a letter I was supposed to send to the accountant and (b) couldn’t find the electronic copy to download. So far my tenure as executor has not been marked by any degree of competence. Fortunately my sister is doing the actual work and I just have to sign things and look decorative.

Then I sent the surgery a copy of my driving license as they need photo ID to re-issue my NHS pass word, which has never actually worked. I got an email by return, asking for my email address so they could send the password.

Yes, that’s right.

It was followed moments later by a sheepish phone call – the supervisor had spotted what had happened and had forced the culprit to ring me and apologise. I thought it was funny and told her how we had once put the return address on the front of a parcel by accident – resulting in us sending a parcel to ourselves. Much hilarity ensued and we parted on good terms.

It rained most of the day, and was unseasonally cold, as a reminder that September is just around the corner.

Already?

I could do without that.

A customer with a 2.30 appointment rang to ask if he could come early, and I said yes because I was happy to increase my chances of picking Julia up on time. Of course, the plan went wrong. He stood round talking and left just after three, at which point my co-worker, and the Universe, seemed to slow down. The queue over the bridge was worse than usual and I was 20 minutes late picking her up.

I listened to an interesting radio programme on wildlife as I queued so it wasn’t a complete waste, though I didn’t tell Julia that.

The TESCO delivery service arrived half an hour early, but I can’t be bothered to talk about efficiency or their increased costs.

The school where Julia’s project is based has bullied its way into making MENCAP allow it access through the gardens so they can send their lower school in that way. This will be inconvenient in the morning when Julia is trying to set up, but worse in the afternoon when they will disrupt the routine of the group members. As a number of them are quite withdrawn and don’t adapt well to change we are hoping it doesn’t do too much damage.

The thing I most object to, though, is that the school got its way by a number of bullying tactics, including telling Julia they would refuse her access to water.

I’d like to alert the Press and repay the bullying by causing some stress but Julia, as usual, won’t take decisive action. That’s why bullies prosper. It’s also why bad management proliferates.

If bullies and useless, cowardly managers were tarred and feathered and secured to their own front gates with cable ties (not that I have planned any of this, just in case it ever comes to court) there would be a lot less of it about.

The old practice of hanging, drawing and quartering had a lot to recommend it., and I wouldn’t object to extending its use to delivery drivers who arrive too early.

The photo has nothing to do with the post. It’s a coin, believe it or not. It’s from Ghana, a country not normally associated with Ancient Egypt. Other issuers of coins of King Tut include the Isle of Man and the Cook Islands. They are much more famous for issuing novelty coins than they are for having Pyramids.

 

Not the Worst of Days

Last night I checked out all the references to me on Google. There aren’t many but I thought if I looked them up once a week and maybe listed them on the blog I may drive myself up the ratings.

At work, I did a lot of photography. The owner has been sorting out loads of coins for eBay but he doesn’t do photography. That’s my job. It’s kept me busy for a few days so I mustn’t grumble, but today I messed up slightly. When photographing runs of virtually identical objects I normally photograph a few markers or notes amongst them so I know what things are as I load them. I forgot today.

As a result I ended up struggling to sort photos of pennies with wide dates and narrow dates. Yes, collectors do differentiate between such things.

Wartime Lincoln Cents

Wartime Lincoln Cents

As a result of that and an influx of customers (with no appointments) I was late picking Julia up.

We arrived home to find my sister had sent us another selection of masks. She has selected a more masculine design this time and uprated the nose clip by replacing the bendy metal strip with an iron bar. I discovered this the hard way when I put it on and tried to bend it round my nose. It was touch and go whether the iron bar or my nose bent first. She claims it’s only a stout piece of wire, but I’m not convinced.

We had fish and chips for tea. I had some of Julia’s chips instead of having a portion myself so I’m feeling virtuous.

I haven’t done much tonight and am currently watching Love Actually. I do like a good romcom.

It hasn’t been an exciting day but I’ve had worse. And at least we didn’t have moqueca.

 

Just Another Friday

I dropped Julia off at work. Town was almost empty and it didn’t take long. I returned via the ring road because there are no roadworks on the inbound side, and that was almost empty too.

I soon had the four parcels done and set about entering more Edward VIII medallions into the system. I have put one lot on and have two other selections ready to go tomorrow. In between times I packed another couple of parcels as orders came in, attended to some customers and ate my sandwiches and a Scotch egg. It was that sort of day.

We bought silver from one customer – some pre-1920 (when it was still .925 sterling silver) and some pre-1947 (when it was .500 silver). In both cases, as the observant readers will have spotted, the debasement of our coinage was preceded by, and caused by, the need to pay for a World War.

We bought two lots of modern junk from people. One of the owners had put the coins in pouches, then sellotaped them into plastic bags with cards to identify them. It took me ten minutes to get the sellotape off the bags before we could check the coins and value them. Several of the coins were worth a£1 and we will struggle to make enough profit to pay for my time getting them out of the bags,

The only customer who bought anything was a collector of gold coins, so that was a handy sale.

The coin is a one third Guinea, or seven shilling coin. Minted in the reign of George III in 1809 this is the second design. It is slightly smaller than a cent in size.

Apart from that we had one browser who spent nothing and a woman who wanted to sell two Krugerrands but didn’t like our offer. She can, it seems, get more if she sells them in Birmingham. We often hear this. It’s true, if you want to drive down to Birmingham, park up and sell your gold in Birmingham you can get a better price. Whether it justifies the expenditure in car running costs, time and parking fees is another matter.

We agreed that she could get a better price by driving down to Birmingham and wished her well.

The road works outside the shop continue. From what we have been told they should be gone in another week, but I’m not sure. They don’t seem to be moving very fast. At the moment we can’t even turn onto the forecourt without taking a detour. This is a little annoying, but I’m not going to bother worrying about it. There are worse things happening in the world.

We had chips from the chip shop tonight as we are still supporting local business, and because it’s nice to have a night where we don’t cook. The fish were big enough to hang over the edges of the plate. I had peas but just a few chips off Julia. I’m fed up with (a) eating too many chips and (b) re-heating chips next day. They give you too many chips to make it look better value. I know this because my dad always used to say the same thing. Before you say it – yes, I’ve been turning into my dad for the last 30 years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Envelope for eBay

Man in a Mask

I was down at the hospital just after eight and left twenty five minutes later, having seen four people breach what I consider acceptable mask etiquette.

One was a staff member chatting to the woman on hygiene duty at the entrance. No mask, despite the signs. Two was a patient, with his mask pulled down to leave his nose uncovered. The benefits of masks are still debatable, but the benefits of wearing one badly are even less obvious. Third was a receptionist who emerged from the office maskless, but laden with a coffee jar and several mugs. She disappeared into a cleaning cupboard to (I assume) make coffee. They spend all that money building the place and the staff have to make coffee in the broom cupboard. Who designs these things? Finally, as I left a doctor arrived. He took a mask from the table at the entrance and just held it to his face as he walked through the building. Is that the sort of grudging use of a mask you expect from a senior member of staff? Are his ears too grand for elastic? What will he do if he needs to use that hand (the other was grasping an attache case)?

All in all, not a great endorsement for the use of masks or the common sense of the staff.

Meanwhile, back at the blood test, I was stabbed in the arm by a woman who had clearly been taught to use a bayonet rather than a needle. As pain radiated through my body I was glad to note that my arm went dead. Whether that was because she hit a nerve or because the band was tight around my arm, I don’t know. I was just glad to lose the feeling. I have had better testing sessions.

I arrived at work an hour and a half early and started packing parcels. We only had three to do and I then took the selfies I am using with this post and started cataloguing medallions of Edward VIII. Many of them are bland. Some are dull, others anodyne.  And still more of them are boring, uninspired or unremarkable.

Empire Day Medal - Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Empire Day Medal – Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Some are very interesting but unfortunately many are not. You will learn more, whether you want to or not, as I write my posts on collectables.

At lunchtime we had a customer call, without appointment. She was a nice lady who wore a mask. and sold us some coins her father had put to one side. Some were silver, so she walked away with nearly £50.

Then we had thin man, also with no appointment, who had a copy ancient Greek coin as sold to tourists in happier days. It was worthless and he ejected little blobs of spittle as he spoke. Several fell on my hands. I held my breath and regretted not wearing a mask.

Finally we had a collector who looked at our Saxon coins and bought one before deciding to buy himself a second-hand coin cabinet as a belated birthday treat.

It was a very mixed day.

My sister made my mask. It has a nose clip and is generally an excellent mask, fitting well and being quite comfortable in wear. It is, if I could find any fault, perhaps a mask with a pattern more suited to an aunt, or a coin dealer wanting to get in touch with his feminine side, but it is a minor point.

Julia has just made sausage and mash with carrot and parsnip mash, sprouts and onion sauce – a nice plate of comfort food for the end of a wintry day. I will load the photos and go to eat.

All in all, apart from the stabbed arm and the spittle shower, it has been an excellent day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A man in a chintz mask

Last Week’s Photos

I took 425 photos last week, according to the count I just did. Exactly 200 were personal and 225 for work. I’m not surprised by the number of photos but I am surprised that they worked out to such tidy figures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cook Islands $1 – gold-plated copper with coloured detail

Of those, about half a dozen are blurred (as I delete obviously faulty ones at the time of taking, if I can) but many are poorly composed, badly lit or simply duplicates to make sure I get a decent shot.Many of the work shots are poorly lit because the subjects, particularly coin sets in boxes, and the lights (a couple of badly placed fluorescent tubes) aren’t really designed for good photography.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Guernsey 50p – much the same as the previous photo – they never circulate and are really just medallions for people who want lots of bright shiny stuff

And again!

And again!

It was a dull week at work – just coins. medallions and the cards that go with them. The “house style” so far as we have such a thing, is also dull, as the shop owner doesn’t like shots which might be more interesting than average. That’s a shame, as I like to look for slightly more interesting angles. Apart from taking pride in my work, it breaks up the tedium of taking 225 photos of shiny, round things.

The other problem I have with him is that he doesn’t use a camera himself. This means he doesn’t understand lighting, or the way the camera sees the shot, particularly the colour rendition. He can’t see why we can’t replicate the picture his eye sees. Most of the time we get decent shots, but with a good camera, good lighting and with some decent equipment such as tripods and diffusers, we could do a lot better.

This is a medallion to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s First Flight.

A lot of them have to be photographed inside plastic capsules, which doesn’t help.You can’t win with that one. If you take a proof coin out of a capsule you get criticism for taking it out and, in the view of the critic, putting finger marks on the coin. If you leave it in you get questions about whether a scratch is on the coin or the capsule.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Crowns – from the Festival of Britain 1951 to Wedding of Charles & Diana 1981

So here are a few of last week’s coin and medallion photos. Not really much of a challenge, apart from the poor equipment, and not much of a feeling of a job well done either. It’s fortunate I have a blog to keep me going.

 

 

Tuesday – the new Monday

This morning, as Julia struggled to work by bus again, I relaxed, ate toast and watched the weather report on TV. The forecast stated that there was a weather warning in Derbyshire, that there might be snow on high ground and that it might rain at lower levels. That was all very much like the forecast yesterday, which proved to be so badly wrong.

As I thought of yesterday’s events, and the unexpected snow, a flurry of medium flakes drifted past the window.

“Well, well,” I muttered as I watched them fall.

After about twenty seconds and several dozen flakes they stopped falling. It hardly seemed worth the trouble.

Work was fairly average. There were only six parcels to pack, a much more restful number than yesterday’s 28. We had several people bringing coins in to sell, including three who wanted to sell metal detector finds. One wanted too much money and one had boxes of interesting, but low quality, junk. We did, however, buy a sixpence of Queen Elizabeth I and a Saxon sceatta.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Less interesting than a Saxon Coin

This is how life in a coin shop should be – we have been a bit quiet recently and it’s nice to be busy.

I also put a number of coin sets on eBay. It’s not the glamorous end of the coin trade (if such a thing exists) but someone has to do it. Life can’t all be Gold Nobles of Henry V. This was what last night’s speaker found when he detected a Gold Noble on Time Team shortly after starting detecting. He hasn’t found one since!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tristan da Cunha has a lot to answer for

I’m going to post this now and then come back to put the photos up, otherwise it will never get posted before midnight. To be fair, it’s not just photos, everything takes ages on this Netbook.

Just finished – it took just over half an hour!

Vexed! And a Space-Filler Post

The planned post for the day was Scone Chronicles 33, and it actually had scones in it. I had done about 75% of it before I broke to make tea (corned beef hash with red cabbage, in case future researchers wonder what it was). When I looked for my camera to load the pictures after eating, I found that I must have left it at work again. I am quite annoyed with myself.

I am therefore going to write a blog around the recent photos that I have on the other camera. First I will have to check what they are, as I can’t remember what they are.

It’s not looking promising.

There are pictures of the Peace and Tribute medals which I’m going to use for my talk at the Numismatic Society, which is, as yet, amorphous and coming up in four weeks.

There are banknotes from the shop, some modern collectible coins and some “evasions”. Evasions are interesting to students of coins, Georgian history and crime. And Americans. A lot of them were used, and even made, in America until the emerging state got its coinage sorted out. I say “interesting”. If brass, rubbing, train spotting and collecting matchbox labels are interesting…well, you get the picture.

In the eighteenth century there was a shortage of small change for everyday transactions. The gap was filled by tradesmen who issued their own tokens, forgers and makers of evasions, which fill a gap between the two. This is one of ours on eBay. They were made to look worn so they blended in better, so this is actually quite a good example.

An evasion is a coin made to look like a coin, but with some very unsubtle differences – it may have King Alfred or another figure on it, it may be mispelled and it may bear a date on which no coins were minted. It will, however, have a head on the front, looking vaguely king-like, and it will have Britannia or a harp on the back. In other words, it is meant to deceive, but be an obvious fake when examined. And, as an obvious fake, it isn’t legally a forgery.

When you consider that the punishment for forgery was hanging for men, and burning at the stake for women, you cans see that this was an important distinction.

The last woman to be burned at the stake in Britain, was Catherine Murphy, executed in 1789 for coining. Her husband was hanged for coining that same morning. By that time the burning was mainly symbolic as the victims were usually hanged or strangled before the fire was lit. This must have been of small comfort.

Despite popular culture shouting “Burn her, she’s a witch!” the English never burned witches. We hanged them. The last witch burned in Scotland was in 1727. I’m sure that whether they died by hanging or burning, witches must have felt hard done by, seeing as witchcraft didn’t really exist.

The last woman imprisoned for witchcraft in the UK was Helen Duncan, who claimed to have had contact with dead sailors and to know that HMS Barham had been sunk before it was officially announced. She was jailed in 1944 under the provisions of the Witchcraft Act of 1735. This, to be fair, wasn’t a case about witchcraft but about wartime censorship and a fraudulent medium claiming to be in touch with dead servicemen.

They may look like worn out copper discs, but coins can be quite interesting.

History in the Making

A little tiredness, a touch of sloth and I’m on the fourteeth day of the challenge with 26 posts done. I was ahead, I’m now behind.

Today was a busy day on eBay and a reasonably busy one in the shop. This is good, because we are there to be busy.

For the second day in a row we sold a lot of 1973 Proof 50p coins.

That’s the one with the ring of hands, which commemorates our membership of the EEC, as the EU was known at the time. This was exciting stuff in 1973, a whole new world of international relations and the first new decimal coin design.

How things change in just a few years.

It’s forty-seven years later, we have so many new designs of coin that it’s both disorientating and embarrassing, and we are leaving the EU. If the figures are to be believed, and I’d rather believe figures than politicians, it has already cost us a lot of money in terms of lost growth and could cost us a lot more.

We might do better as a result of leaving, who can tell? But my forecast is that when they close the lid of my cardboard coffin, people will still be arguing about it.

I know one thing – the quality of debate has not improved. Someone buttonholed Julia on the bus to talk about the importance of taking power back into our own hands and being able, once more, to enjoy bent bananas. Someone brought their grandson into the shop today, and had a very similar meander through their few remaining brain cells. It seems that today is the firsdt day of a new democracy and we are once again free to enjoy the benefits of bright green mushy peas and bent bananas.

What is it with these people and their bent bananas?

All foods are regulated, and have been since well before our membership of the EEC. If they weren’t, we would still be adulterating bread with alum and feeding kids sweets made with poisonous dyes.

So, what did I do on the day life changed forever?

Nothing much, just parcelled up nibe 50p pieces with an EEC design and listened to someone’s grandma talk rubbish.

History passed me by.

For an example of how coin design has deteriorated, look at out new Brexit 50p. A work-experience kid with a fancy font on a computer could have designed that. It’s pathetic.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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