Tag Archives: coronation

To Buy, or Not to Buy?

I’ve been thinking about the Coronation recently. Having a Coronation, for the first time in my life, tends to bring this sort of thing to the front of your mind.  I’m familiar with them from dealing in commemorative medallions, but this is the first one I’ve actually seen.

I’m told the final cost is about £160 million, which is well up on the estimate of £50 – £100 million we were told beforehand.  Unfortunately, my sources being limited to Google, I can’t confirm this.

Is it worth it? Personally, I had a bonus Saturday off work, then a Bank Holiday on the Monday, so I was happy. I’m fairly sure that the souvenir trade and providers of food, drink and accommodation will all have had a boost too. However, some people have different views.

Sovereign of King Charles III (Obverse)

Sovereign of King Charles III (Reverse)

Sorry the pictures lack detail – they are low-relief and very shiny, which is difficult to photograph in the shop lighting.

After the Lord Mayor’s Show . . . as the saying goes. No matter how good something is, we have a constant stream of people wanting to criticise.

The first quibble was that we shouldn’t have a monarchy. That’s a question for a later post. The second was that we could spend the money on something better.

We could use it to alleviate poverty, for instance. If you take the number of people of working age on benefits and divide the money up between them. It works out at £16 each. It might be a welcome boost, but it’s not going to make a lasting difference.

Or you could divide it up between the 1.6 million people who earn the minimum wage. That’s £100. It’s a nice bonus in one lump, but spread over the year its £2 a week.

To be fair to the Government they have already paid out far more than that in helping reduce fuel bills. Where do you draw the line?

What about buying things that Governments actually spend money on?

Nottingham 1902 coronation medal

We could buy 6oo Javelin anti-tank missiles for £104 million and still have change to buy 5 Challenger tanks. These are always useful when a World War is brewing, and I’d take more comfort from 600 anti-tank missiles than I would from knowing that we’d given people a few extra quid. You can buy cheaper tanks and missiles, but if people are shooting at you it’s probably wise to heed John Ruskin on the matter.

Or you could buy a top of the range F35 jet fighter and still have money left over to hang a load of bombs and missiles off it.

Or you could buy a private island. The truth is that to me (and I assume, to my readers) £160 million sounds like a lot of money,  To some people it’s just a yacht and a holiday home.

Nottingham 1902 coronation medal

Of course, despite the opinions we often see, the Royal Family does pay back. Judging by the amount of Royalty memorabilia we handle, there is a strong market for it. We also have tourism. It’s difficult to quantify how much this actually makes for us. I know it made us several hundred pounds last week after a big sale of commemorative coins and medallions to a keen buyer and that  hotel prices always go up at the time of Royal Events.

As a final thought – the Prince’s Trust has worked hard over the years to help the disadvantaged, and I’m guessing that it has probably done far more to help people than the cost of the Coronation.

I’m ambivalent about the Royal Family, and I’m not but I’m happy that £160 million on a Coronation (if it did cost that) isn’t bad value. It isn’t just frittered on trumpets and velvet, a lot of it goes on security. We live in a dangerous world, as we’ve seen many times.

1911 coronation – Nottingham

1911 coronation – Nottingham

1952 Coronation medal from Mansfield Woodhouse

After the Coronation

Today I made two changes to my routine from Coronation day. One was that I didn’t watch the Coronation on TV, though I did eat cake and sleep. The other was that I wrote before having breakfast (croissants with bacon and cheese) so I have at least three pieces started. Yesterdays good intentions sort of faded during the day and by this morning were floating like ancient banners in a chapel, a few threads and dust held together with memories and good intentions.

I suppose breakfast at the Palace was fairly laid back – no tantrums from Harry, no major protests, no terrorism. It can’t be much fun being Royal at time like this, when such things have to be taken into consideration.  It must have been more laid back in 1953. At that point there had been no major protest since 1848 and no terrorist plot since 1887. I say “terrorist”, but there’s evidence to suggest it was actually the British Government who really planned it, though the earlier attacks had undoubtedly been by the Fenians.

The news today was a mixture of gleanings from lip-readers and gripes from a variety of sources. It’s the general sort of news you get these days after public events. Even if I read it, most of it doesn’t stick. I did note that many Americans were anti-Royal in the results of a poll that was conducted, and that France’s opinion was divided – the left wing disliking monarchy and the right-wing liking it.  After the events 1776 in America and 1789 in France I can’t say that either result is a surprise. I’m just amazed that 250 years later anybody has a view. It’s often said that the British live in the past, but I’ve never been asked to give my opinion in a  poll like this. I tend not to have opinions on things that don’t affect me. And even if they do affect me I try to avoid putting too much energy into having opinions that aren’t going to change anything.

I’ve just watched a little of the Coronation Concert, and am going back to watch a bit more. The effects are good, the artists are generally lacklustre and so far only Lionel Richie and Miss Piggy have shown much star quality.

The top picture is Edward VIII as Prince of Wales. When considering today’s Royal Family it’s hard to ignore Edward VIII who seems, in a variety of ways, to have been an evil role model for many of today’s family.


Coronation Tradition

My grandfather built his own TV for the coronation, a story which I have told before, and they all sat round with neighbours to watch the seven inch screen. It was therefore, with a fine sense of tradition that I sat down and watched the Coronation on TV. Not quite all of it. I missed a bit at the beginning. And a bit while I made brunch. After that I watched more, napped for a little, made afternoon tea (including Coronation Chicken sandwiches), was shouted at for snoring and eventually saw the Royal Family on the balcony. I didn’t actually want to watch the ceremony, I just like the medals and uniforms. I like to say that as the shop’s medal expert I need to keep up with these things, but really I’m just a small boy trapped in a crumbling body.

This is good tradition.

My father, who was still the Royal Navy in 1953, stationed at Chatham, lined the Coronation route. It rained and he got wet. I briefly thought of him, but confess that I felt no need to follow in his footsteps. I’m sure King Charles will do fine without the presence of a wet Wilson by the side of the road.

All in all it’s a day to relish tradition. Everyone is keen to tell us how out of date and second class we are as a nation, but for just one day it would have been nice to sit back, be traditional, ignore the bits I didn’t like and relax. However, I wasn’t allowed to, as a lot of the comments from one of the BBC team, a history expert, hinged on how times were changing, always tinged with reproach. This is how life is these days, no matter what you do, somebody always wants to criticise.

I don’t have a picture suitable for a coronation, but let’s face it, nothing says celebration like a nice piece of cake. I used Battenberg in the top picture because it has a link to Royalty.

Sticky Toffee Cake

Day 147

Subjects I discarded tonight.

Long Covid, editors, fashions in modern poetry, customers and introspection. I’ve done them all recently, or they aren’t interesting, or both.

Similarly, the fact that I had a telephone conversation with Rheumatology this morning, or that ASDA delivered 100% of the grocery order tonight, aren’t exactly riveting, though the 100% accurate delivery is quite unusual.

I then got onto the subject of the Royal Family and things took a turn for the worse. I am surprisingly anti-Royal for a man who likes history and tradition.

My dad was one of the sailors who lined the route of the Coronation Procession in 1953, as he was stationed at Chatham, which is just down the road from London. That is the only time a member of my family has been near the Queen. We don’t tend to move in the same circles.

To say that I have been finding writing easier over the last few weeks I am making heavy weather of this post, having deleted more words than I have allowed to stand.

The report on the lockdown parties at Number 10 is out. People are talking about it, some are even outraged. However, being outraged is actually a career option in this age of easy communication and low personal standards. people are, it seems, outraged that their loved ones were dying whilst the staff at Number 10 had parties.

As you know, my father died of Covid. I was annoyed at the restrictions at his funeral, particularly in light of the way the Government loosened the restrictions on football at about that time. I was only allowed to gather in a small group of close family and we weren’t allowed to sing. Football fans were allowed to gather in pubs and shout in the faces of complete strangers. To me, that was a lot worse than a few drinks at Number 10, yet still falls short of outrage. The history of Covid has been a history of inconsistency and though I think there was poor judgement I’m not sure a few drinks at Number 10 had much effect on the course of the pandemic.




Another Busy Day

Yesterday we had end to end customers, and the same was true today. Earlier in the week we had a Guildhall Coronation Medal brought into the shop with a selection of other medals associated with Guildhall dinners and the Freemasons. We weren’t able to buy them, though we did buy the associated coins. The owner has taken them home to talk to their children and decide what to do. This is an example photograph from the internet as I didn’t think to ask if I could take a photograph at the time.

The photographs below are ones I took of an interesting group of medals that came into the shop today. They represent 38 years in the army, with six tours – three in the Balkans (one with the UN and two with NATO) and three in Afghanistan. The last three medals are the Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and the Army Long Service and Good Conduct medal. We tend not to give a lot of medals out. The silver laurel leaves are the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service, which the recipient was awarded for his services in Helmand Province.

Modern Group with QCVS

Modern Group with QCVS

Lots more happened, but that, for me, was the most interesting part. I’m a man who is easily satisfied.

Nottingham 1911 Veterans’ Dinner

This is the medal that was given to members of the Boy’s Brigade and Boy Scouts who lined the procession route for the Veterans’ Parade in Nottingham during the Coronation celebrations. The Scouts were, at that time, a new organisation compared to the Boy’s Brigade. The medal features two stags with very flat antlers. They have to be flat to allow room for all the wording.

I presume Mrs J A Morrison was the wife of J A Morrison DSO, who was MP for East Nottingham between 1908 and 1912, and was host of the dinner.

There is a book which lists the names of the war veterans who went to the dinner, which was held at the Empress Rink, King Edward Street, Nottingham. The skating rink is reported as burning down in 1910 and being rebuilt as a cinema, which opened in January 1913 so I’m not sure how it hosted the dinner in June 1911.

There were 1,600 veterans, with 2,475 medals between them. The oldest veteran was 90-year-old E Pratt of the 17th Foot, who lost eight toes to frostbite in the Crimea.

Each veteran was given a copy of the book as a souvenir, with Stewards being given silver jewels (which I have seen, though never been able to photograph), and Captain Morrison, as he was then, being given a gold and enamel jewel.

Edit: This is a link to the catalogue archive of auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb showing a picture of a silver stewards jewel.

History in a Junk Box

There was a time when dealers used to have junk boxes full of clapped out coins, broken bits and base metal medallions. I certainly did. When I bought mixed boxes at auction the detritus from the bottom, after being carefully checked, would end up tipped in the junk box.

When buying, the junk boxes of other dealers were my natural habitat. I’ve bought some good stuff out of junk boxes. It seemed like they would never end. Then ebay came along and  it all ended up on line.

The contents of the box could cover anything from ancient coins to petrol station giveaways, via Georgian medals, Victorian adverts and pre-decimal coins. One of the staple items was the mass produced commemorative medal. They really started in a big way with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and ended in the 1930s with a flurry of royal events – George V’s Jubilee, the abdication (though this is shown only by the  items of Edward VIII (which aen’t really rare, whatever dealers may say) and, finally, the coronation of George VI.

This is the medallion Nottingham produced for the 1897 Jubilee of Queen Victoria

This is the Edward V!! medal from Nottingham – note the foresters supporting the coat of arms.

The colour changes for 1911, as do the supporters on the coat of arms, but the general idea remains the same. There is a second version of the medal, often known locally as the unofficial version (see below).

There is a medal very similar to the 1911 coronation medal – made for the 1914 Royal visit. It isn’t just in recent years that the Royal Family has been unpopular, there were seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria and one on Edward VII. In 1914, to encourage public approval George V embarked on a programme of visits. I’ve seen the itinerary for his visit to Nottingham – he visited Arnold and Mansfield too, though I think he just waved at Arnold in passing.

Royal visit to Nottingham (above( and Dundee (below).

Things seemed to tail off after that, with a much smaller selection being produced for 1953. To set it in perspective, rationing was still in force in 1953, and the fledgling Matchbox company struggled to produce model cars when metal supplies were diverted to fighting the Korean War.

This is one of the later medals, from Mansfield Woodhouse.

I have plenty more to show you yet, so don’t worry about me running out for the next few weeks,