Tag Archives: collectors

The Pinnacle of Procrastination

Boxed Lord Byron Medallion by Ron Dutton

I have a list of jobs to do. Some of them are quite important. None of them are particularly interesting. So I’m going to write another blog post and pretend it’s important because I am being “a writer”. It’s a bit like the old saying “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but give him a fishing rod and you won’t see him all weekend.” It works with computers too. Give a man a computer and he’s suddenly “a writer” or “a poet” or “a blogger”. And he’s nowhere to be seen when there is work to be done.

Butlins Veleta Competition Medallion 1954

Butlins Veleta Competition Medallion 1954

I can’t speak for everyone but I’m just a man with a computer who finds it easier to procrastinate if he can say he’s writing something. It’s not really writing, it’s just producing words and avoiding work.It is, as the title says, the Pinnacle of Procrastination.

If I was still mobile I’d be looking at fishing tackle catalogues and planning a retirement where Julia hardly ever saw me. My first purchase would be one of those waistcoats with loads of pockets and  I’d then dream my life away riffling through catalogues and muttering about test curves and breaking strain as I accumulated a mountain of gear.

Magistrates’ Court Medallion

At heart, I believe that most fishermen are also collectors. I had a friend who definitely was. He decided to take up fishing in late middle age (having been a keen fisherman in his youth) and he also decided, within weeks, that he was going to collect fishing reels. With Nottingham being the home of the “Nottingham Reel” it seemed a logical thing to do.

Collectors, you see, come in all shapes and sizes and are never short of an excuse to start a new collection. If they aren’t collecting things they are buying things to keep them in, or books to learn about them. And if all else fails, I can always claim to be cataloguing my collection. It’s not such a high level gambit as “writing” but it still suffices to deflect actual work.

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion & leaflet

Day 42

I just looked at the title, and thought, that only leaves 323 days until the end of the year. Give it three weeks and the year will be 1/6th gone. And what have I done? Well, apart from moaning about the cold, worrying about WW3 and putting off the housework? I know they are all important things, but they aren’t real achievements are they?

I’m getting ready to put a few better bits on eBay for work and, at home, to catalogue my collection of plastic transport tokens. Here’s a question for you, what are collectors of transport tokens called?answer (in the US at least) is Vecturist). In the UK, they just call us anoraks. Even coin collectors look down on us as being peculiar. The hobby is much more developed in the US. There are also more serial killers in the US. I’m not saying the two things are linked, but you have to wonder . . .

The pictures for today are two pieces of coin jewellery. The header picture is a 1901 penny which has been cut away and made into a brooch. It’s fine work and it’s a shame the pin is missing. It isn’t much worn, which makes me think it was probably made in about 1901, maybe as a piece of mourning jewellery for Queen Victoria. It is very dark and the patina may have been artificially applied.

The other is an enamelled bronze brooch (also lacking a pin) which has had a farthing mounted in the centre. This, as the inscription shows, is definitely a piece of mourning jewellery. The maker’s mark is “W.J.D” which is W. J. Dingley, a Birmingham manufacturer of everything from high quality trophies to mass market badges.

When I found them (I was going through one of the junk boxes) I thought of adding them to my collection, as I have a few bits of coin jewellery, but decided against it, as it’s time to start cutting back, not adding to the burden of whoever has to sort out my collections.

If things had gone a different way I may, by now, have become a leading authority on mourning jewellery. Instead, I’m a shop assistant. Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say.

Penny Brooch – front view

Penny Brooch showing rear view with Britannia and the date 1901

Penny Brooch showing rear view with Britannia and the date 1901

With modern penny for size comparison

With modern penny for size comparison

There’s nowt so strange as folk…

I once bought a collection of 107 owls. They were no bigger than two inches tall, with some being under an inch, and none were by recognised potters. Most of them had been sourced from gift shops or charity shops and as a collection they were a pleasant, if slightly eccentric, thing to look at.

Owls are nice. If it had been a collection of vultures I might have felt slightly different about it.

I tell you this to set the scene relating to another collection we bought recently. It consisted of about ten pound of mint condition decimal copper with a few five and ten pence coins.

Most of them were carefully laid out in plastic bags before being rolled up and taped into ribbons of coins, but a substantial number were individually wrapped. Some were wrapped like sweets but the majority were taped into individual flat packets. Cutting the pieces of plastic from a larger bag must have been laborious, but the effort of wrapping them was Herculean.

And no, we don’t know why he had done it like that. I just assume that he was old and had time on his hands. In those circumstances some of us blog, others wrap coins tightly in bits of surplus plastic and cellophane. Goodness knows what I will be doing in a few years time.

People think that they are protecting the coin but in fact, the chemicals that make up plastic contain a lot off sulphur, which discolours coins. Over the years they have developed plastics that do less damage to coins. AS you can see from the colours of some of these coins, these weren’t wrapped in low sulphur plastic.

Anyway, my job was to remove all the wrappings.

I’ve had more exciting jobs, but I still paid whether I’m excited or not.



Decimal 1/2 p coins – not worth much in 1971 and worth less now