Tag Archives: medallions

Saturday and Some eBay Bits

Saturday already.

I don’t know where the days go. It’s already 10.24 and I’m only just starting the real work of the day.

Julia and I had breakfast at McDonald’s this morning (it’s our equivalent of a social life) before I went to the shop and she went to the gym. She also shopped, went to the park and cooked tea. Whilst in the park, she attended an event and inveigled an invitation for her garden group to go to the park and work in the Tropical House for some of the coldest days.

Meanwhile, I sat in the back room of the shop, cut off from natural light, and worked away. Apart from an hour or so in the afternoon when I spent it talking to a customer who came in. We covered rhubarb, medals and metal detecting. He dug up a cut half penny and a Roman coin last week. He also showed us a picture of a coin that he saw dug up. Someone was walking towards him in the field to ask how he was doing and while they were still about ten yards away they stopped and started digging…

… producing a gold Celtic Stater.

It’s amazing what you can find in fields, particularly with modern machines, and a full day spent walking in ploughed fields.

I put a nice 1920s Scout badge, a medallion commemorating us joining the EEC in 1973 – quite topical and popular these days- and a medal commemorating the Chilwell Shell Filling Factory and Ordnance depot. It’s still running as Chetwynd Barracks but is due for closure in 2024. I bet they don’t do a medal for that.

I keep saying I’ll do a post on Chilwell and its medals, but I never do. Must try harder. In fact I must start a list and get through some jobs.

That’s about it for now – I’m off to write that list.

The Medallion Collection

It’s a very modest collection, which was, partly, my intention when I started it.

The idea was to buy a medallion relating to every year of the 20th Century, and to do so with discrimination and economy. (Before you ask, that’s 1900-2000 because I can’t be bothered to argue about when a century begins and ends).

I’ve collected a number of things in my life but I’ve never really made a sustained effort, or had sufficient cash. Not that I’m pleading poverty, just that my eyes are bigger than my wallet. Once I’ve bought a few things I start getting ambitious.

Look at this one – linking piers and medallions. What better for a man who likes piers and medallions? It’s nearly 200 years old and it isn’t expensive in collecting terms. However, I can’t see Julia being too happy to find we were on baked potatoes and beans until the end of the month because I’d blown the housekeeping. She’s very patient with me, but even she has her limits.

The first medal celebrates the life of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. I presume it was made in 1972 to commemorate his death. It doesn’t have a pier on it, but it does have a map of Africa and some interesting history behind it.

He was 63 when he died, just two years older than me. In that time he had achieved independence for Ghana and established a fame that still endures. That doesn’t leave me with much time for achieving something as I’ve loafed away my first 61 years and all I have to show for it is a small collection of  medallions.

The second one marks the Cambridge University Press’s move away from hot metal to digital printing.

I like medals made from re-used metal. I have one made from the copper of the Foudroyant )one of Nelson’s old ships) and one made from the lead of Selby Abbey. The Selby Abbey one was sold to raise funds for rebuilding the fire-damaged abbey. I really must find them…

It’s interesting to hold something in your hand and think that it used to be something else, though I suppose all metal was once something else, even if it was just ore.

This isn’t an elegant medal but it marks the end of an era. It was £6, including a box and explanatory leaflet.

I aim to spend around £5 on a medallion, which allows me to complete the century for around £500 and lets me buy something regularly. A collection needs regular additions. Or an addict requires a regular fix, depending on how you view collectors.

Looks like I missed the midnight deadline. I remember thinking it was 11.40 and time was pressing. Then I woke up at 12.10 sitting in the computer chair. I left it another eight hours before posting, as my ability to edit improves greatly after sleep.

 

A Picture for Laurie

The opening picture is a medallion of William Shakespeare by Paul Vincze, commissioned for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. You may remember the Moon Landing Medallion I pictured a few days ago. I mentioned I had this in my collection and Laurie said she’d be interested in seeing a picture of it. I laughed in a hollow fashion, as it’s just one piece of the multifarious detritus that flows around our house.

However, I have to start tidying and last night one of the first things I put my hand on was my medallion collection. To be more accurate, some of my “medallion collection”. The some is easy to understand, the inverted commas were added as I haven’t really collected so much as accumulated. There is a difference, as we tell people when they come to the shop with bags and boxes and even buckets of coins, stamps, cigarette cards, medals and postcards. We do banknotes too, but they don’t usually appear in such quantity.

An accumulation is just an aimless gathering of bits and pieces, often put together with an eye to quantity and economy rather than a theme. It’s often called a collection, but that doesn’t make it one. I could call a salad food, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s just colourful plate decoration.

I’m in anti-salad mode tonight. Julia is cooking and has just told me that our baked potatoes and veggie burgers will be accompanied by salad. This is indeed a cruel and unusual meal.

However, back to collections, a proper collection should have a theme, it should improve your knowledge of the subject and it might even increase knowledge of a collecting field.

Having rather foolishly agreed to give a talk at the Numismatic Society – Monday, 9 March 2020 – Peace & Tribute Medallions of The Great War – I am having to knock that part of my collection into shape. (Make a note in your diary if you are in the area).

The trouble is that there isn’t much information about them and I’m having to trawl the internet and write to museums. So far the museums have been friendly but have had no information, and the internet is tricky. If you search individual towns for information something sometimes crops up. But if you just search generally the third or fourth reference I found was one of my posts on this blog.

I’ve pictured a couple of examples below.  In a week or two I’ll probably find this post cropping up as part of my research!

eBay, Bulldogs and Royal Visits

I found out about how to unpin the post I mentioned previously. It didn’t take much in the end, I looked at the page as I was getting ready for a new post, saw it was marked “sticky” and prodded a few random buttons until it cleared.

I’m feeling quite tech savvy now,

Today’s main project was writing up a collection of prize medals belonging to a dog breeder who appears to have had a good deal of success in France in 1924 and 1925.

If you want a test of your creative writing skills try writing up a pile of dog prize medals in an attractive yet accurate way. They are lovely medals, but they are a real test of writing skill.

I’m also working on a drop-down menu for Royal Visit medallions. These used to be quite popular before the Great War. These are some of the better ones.

 

This is for the Royal Visit to Derby in 1906

 

 

 

This is for the opening of Kew Bridge in 1903

More Medallions, Many More Medallions…

We lost a medallion today. We have boxes of them, so it wasn’t a surprise, as you always feel like you’re on the edge of disaster.

I looked for it twice, handling every plastic-cased medal we had in the shop.

Nothing.

Rather than writing to the customer to confess I’d lost it, I decided that I’d have another look through, and double check every medallion. I found it after twenty minutes. It was in a plastic case with a blue insert. I was looking for a red insert, which is what the computer told me I was looking for.

 

 

In the end the only discrepency I found between the eBay shop and reality, was one medallion. I solved that when I moved a notebook and found the missing medallion had slipped underneath.

It also gave me chance to sort out some new ones. We keep finding more…

 

 

A Different World (Part 2)

I had one more good medal to put on eBay today, which took some doing, as we had parcels to do and a queue of customers to serve. This is how it should be – we’ve missed the customers over the last few months.

This medal commemorates the life of Frederick, Duke of York, second son of George III, commander-in-chief of the British Army and the subject of the nursery rhyme “The Grand Old Duke of York”.

He wasn’t well regarded as a general, after some early setbacks in his career, but ended up reorganising the army into the force that Wellington used to defeat the French.

Frederick, Duke of York, reverse

Frederick, Duke of York, reverse

If you are interested, you can read the link.

However, you might like to have a look at this picture.

Portrait of Frederick, Duke of York - Lawrence 1816.jpg

Frederick, Duke of York

He’s not going to win any beauty contests, is he?

However, there is another reason for including it – it’s by Sir Thomas Lawrence. You may remember him from yesterday, though it really doesn’t matter if you don’t.

 

He was 63 when he died, which is only three years older than me. I’ve noticed a distressing tendency amongst people to be not much older than me when they die. On Radio 4’s Last Word the average age was 75, which is good, but could be better.

I’m about the age that my Mum was when we had to stop her reading obituaries and making similar calculations. I might have to stop listening to Radio 4 on Fridays.

A Different World

Today I entered the world of Shakesperean actors, literary London and Dracula. The item that took me there was a commemorative medal bearing a portrait of Sir Henry Irving – out first theatrical knight. The medal is dated 1891 – he still had four years to go before his knighthood.

He was famous for The Bells, in addition to his Shakesperean roles, and for reputedly being the model for Count Dracula. When you look at some of his pictures you can see why.

These days he is probably as famous for having Bram Stoker as his assistant, as he is for being a great actor. Stoker worked for him for 27 years and in that time they were both to dine at the White House and rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

 

 

The medal, as you can see, has had a hard life and someone has put a hole through it. They used to do that and wear them from ribbons round their necks.

Next, we have a medal to Sir Thomas Lawrence, a fashionable, somewhat raffish painter who died at the age of 60 in 1830. He had been President of the Royal Academy for 10 years at the time of his death. I have plundered Wikipedia for two of his more famous paintings.

 

 

The medallist is the wonderfully named Scipio Clint. I don’t know why he had such a distinctive name, as his father was George and his brother Alfred. He used designs by two well-known sculptors, one being E H Baily, designer of the Nelson statue that stands on the column in Trafalgar Square.

 

Finally we have Sir Isaac Newton, in the form of a medal by John Croker commemorating the death of Newton in 1727.

Newton is an interesting man – a framer of great scientific principles, alchemist, heretic,  reputed inventor of the cat flap and Master of the Mint. In the last job he was responsible for the Great Recoinage of 1696.

During the recoinage he was greatly helped by John Croker, which suggests that the depiction of Newton on the medal is probably accurate, even if it is not flattering.

All three of the medallions have seen better days, but they are all great pieces of history. There is something very calming about working with things of this age, which is more than you can say about decimal coins.