Tag Archives: medallions

Medallic Meanderings – The Automobile Association (2000)

There’s no point letting the work I did on the medallion talk go to waste, so here is some of it reused as a blog post. Not every one will lend itself to use as a blog post, unless the post is on the subject of curing insomnia, but some will stand on their own.

The medal is, as collectors like to know, issued by the Automobile Association, 45mm in diameter and made from a metal that isn’t easy to identify. It’s copper in colour but likely to be a cheap alloy rather than pure copper. An alloy, because it needs to resist scratching and similar things and cheap because that is the modern way. To be fair, in a world where accountants govern our lives, we are lucky that anyone still bothers to make medals. On the other hand, when you look at what they charged me for membership over the years, they could afford it.

AA Medallion 1905-2000

The reverse is plain with as tablet in the middle and the number 1,400 stamped on it. We originally had several others in the shop, with a  mix of numbers. I selected this one because I like numbers with noughts on the end.

The obverse bears the dates 1905 – 2000 above an old-fashioned AA telephone box. The box itself is over the new AA logo (the old one can be seen on the front of the box (it used to look a bit like an owl to me), I have no photo, but this link shows several varieties.

The figures represent an AA patrolman of the 1920s  on the left and a modern one on the right.

In 2000 the AA demutualised and became just another public company, which is why the medallion celebrates 95 years instead of a centenary, as would be usual. During that time the number of cars on the road rose from approximately 1,000 to 27,200,000. In 2020 we had  32,7000,000. That’s a lot more cars, needing a lot more roads. Originally you used to buy petrol from the pharmacy, but as more cars appeared more people started to sell it. In 1919 the AA opened the first filling station in the UK. I didn’t know that until I looked it up to chek some fats before writing this post. This just goes to show the educational benefits of collecting medallions.



Still Struggling

Much of writing a slideshow presentation involves the same difficulty as writing a poem, with the extra difficulty of facts and photos being thrown in.

I’ve successfully procrastinated for eight months now, and followed that up with evasion, displacement activity and sloth over the last few months. That moved on to struggling to write in the last couple of weeks as I just couldn’t get into it. That is quite like poetry, though the timescale is different. I did managed to produce some photos, facts and slides but I couldn’t get the narrative going and my internal editor has seen me start and restart the presentation a dozen times. In the end I decided to put my head down and start writing. Eventually, it came right.

I now have a suitable opening and quite a lot of other bits and pieces. I also have 24 hours and 13 minutes before I am supposed to turn up to the meeting (I decided to take Monday off work – I could do with a break and I need the time to finish.

The plan is to blast through the rest of the slides tonight and establish the order and narrative. I will check the timing and write a list of things that still need doing. I will finalise it tomorrow morning before I take and load any extra photographs I need, check facts and write the prompts. I don’t need prompts as such, because it’s all on screen or in my head, but there are always a few last minute facts to note. Mainly though, I do it as practice and memory training and, to be honest, in case the presentation doesn’t work and I have to revert to the old-fashioned method of talking at a crowd.

That, I think, is about it. I will load this post and get back to work.

Shakespeare Medallion by Paul Vincze

Butlins Veleta Competition Medallion 1954

Saturday Stretches Ahead

I fell asleep after Julia went to bed last night and woke at half past midnight. That is quite early for me, but I decided I need to become more regular in my habits so I went to bed. As usual, I had only a moderate night, but have woken feeling quite  good so am starting as I mean to go on.

After blogging I will make breakfast, make sandwiches and go to work, where I will endeavour to be hard-working, cheerful and polite. It can be a bit of a struggle at times but I will make the effort.

We have a problem with a customer . . .

How many times have you heard that? He wrote claiming he hasn’t had his coins delivered. This isn’t unusual, as Royal mail is, according to rumour, two months behind with deliveries. The difference in this case is that w have no record of his order. We wrote and told him this – it is not the first time people have become confused. He wrote back, being borderline impolite, repeating that he had ordered from us. In the wait for the reply we had actually7 found out what had happened – he had ordered using a different name. It seems that we don’t just sell coins, we have to be mind readers too. Time is money, as they say, and even if the package turns up today it’s hard to make a profit on a £7 coin sale when you have just spent £5 worth of time sorting out the stupidity of a customer.

Sorry if this falls short of “the customer is always right” but that doesn’t apply where the customer changes eBay names in the middle of a sale.

This may be the first of several posts today, as I will be working on my medallion presentation after work and will need something to help me waste even more time. Sixty hours to go, if my mental arithmetic is correct.

Butlins Veleta Competition Medallion 1954

No Time . . .

Sorry, I’ve become unreliable again. I’m having to devote too much energy to  problems in real life (as opposed to the bowdlerised version I present in the blog). One, which I can discuss now, is sciatica. Some heat, some stretching and some attention to my seating arrangements have improved it after two weeks of problems and I’m happy that I’m on the way to recovery.

The other is annoying, frustrating, but essentially trivial matter at work, which has been annoying me, and preventing me from concentrating, for the last few days. This is something and nothing, and the annoyance at being unable to shake it off is actually greater than the annoyance at the situation. However, that’s work, and has no place in my blog apart from a passing comment.

Sometimes, like when I had two boundary disputes with neighbours and a collapsing chimney stack, you just have to work through them carefully and persistently. In the end, all three problems were resolved and though one of the neighbours was annoyed with me, nothing bad happened. The one who was annoyed really had no reason for it – I won’t go over the details as it still irritates me.

This morning I got a new acceptance, so that’s good. Three of last months submissions were competitions, so I won’t get any sort of answer for months yet, probably never, as they disappear into the black hole that is the fate of most competition entries. Of the other four I now have two acceptances and am waiting for two. It compensates fro my other problems in some way – I’m still in pain and I’m still annoyed, but at least I am also grinning while all that is happening.

My current energy is devoted to catching up on reading blogs (with limited success I’m afraid), reading Laurie’s latest book  (I’m only two months late) and thinking about starting the presentation on medallions. That’s about ten days away and I really must start.

In fact I will go and start now . . .

A Night of Coins and Thoughts of Medallions

Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire tonight and one month to go before giving my presentation.

I have done a few slides for it and tried them tonight after the speakers had finished. It didn’t work. That’s the trouble with using Open Office instead of Microsoft. Fortunately we have at least one member on hand to give IT advice and he tells me I can save my slides as PowerPoint slides. I will check tomorrow, as I really need to get moving.

It was short paper night tonight. First up was a video clip of an American talking about the design process for the Californian State Quarter, which I have never felt to be particularly inspiring. The State Quarter Program (sic) is interesting from a numismatic point of view (and an economic one, too) but some of the designs could be better. The Californian one won through in a competition

Second was one of the members talking about his series of books. He has spent 40 years researching the note-issuing banks of England and is now publishing his research (in 43 volumes!). That’s one per county and he has now done six. There is still some way to go. He also showed us a cheque from his collection, written by one member of a local banking family to a prominent local banker. That was quite interesting, I like anything with a story.

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Obv)

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Rev)

Another member gave us a short talk on the future of the 1p and 2p coins. They are now made in copper-coated steel, to keep production costs down. Nobody knows for sure how much they cost to make and the Mint won’t tell us, but the old bronze ones are now worth more as scrap than they are as coins. However, it is illegal to scrap them, so don’t try it. In the USA, they  do release the cost of making coins – 2.1 cents to make a 1 cent coin last year. No wonder governments want to stop making small denomination coins.

Then we had a presentation on measuring the density of Roman coins to check their purity, and looked at the purity in relation to various historical events. It was very interesting, but by that time I had been sitting still for a long time and was beginning to feel chilly, so was glad when it ended and I could get up and walk round a bit. I’d been sitting still so long that I had trouble getting out of the chair. This won’t be a problem next month.

Liskeard 1940 – a story involving a future Prime Minister

Plans, Poetry and Popes

Two days ago, I had plans. Roast veg and gammon for tea (ensuring we had extra roasted veg for soup), a pre-prepared vegetable stew for Tuesday night, soup for tonight and Paste bake for Thursday. The beauty of winter weather is that our fridge always works better. It can chug a bit in summer and things don’t last as long. It was a brilliant idea at the time, and still seems impressive in hindsight. It would, of course, be more impressive if I’d actually done anything about it. The kitchen just seemed a bit nippy and the living room, with the fire, TV and company, seemed so much more attractive. That’s why, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had sausages for tea.

I’m a great planner, but I haven’t quite mastered the other bit, the part where I actually do things.

I have also failed in my plan to write three passable tanka a day (I wrote two yesterday and fell asleep in front of the TV), my plan to write my February presentation for the Numismatic Society and . . .

Sadly it’s a long list and the year is only three days old. The motivational book I just read seems to have changed nothing. With it being on Kindle, I can’t even burn it to keep warm. On the other hand, I can’t really blame the book for my lack of application.

Pope Benedict XVI – the other side of the Newman medal

It’s a coincidence that I’ve used a medal showing the late Pope, but also timely. I wanted a decent medallion picture, as I had mentioned medallions in the post. and this was the first suitable one I found. I try to avoid religion and politics as subjects, but if something like this crops up I’m happy to go along with it.

(Sorry about the erratic timing of the posts – this was planned as a second part for yesterday, but time ran away with me so I altered a few things and made it the post for Wednesday, though there may be another.

Tales from a Cold Room

It was the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire meeting on Monday night. Twelve middle-aged men huddled in our outdoor coats, listening to a wild-eyes enthusiast talking about the Morgan Dollar. Thanks to a combination of cold, facts and hunger I gradually retreated into a small ball and started losing the will to live.

To sum up the talk the Morgan Dollar, an American icon, was designed by George Morgan, an Englishman, and minted from 1878-1904 and again in 1921. It is a big coin and was produced in the early days of mass-production in five American Mints. This meant that the dies used for striking the coins wore out, were accidentally damaged, were re-cut or repaired and were used in different combinations. Coin collectors have been cataloguing varieties of dollar, caused by these imperfections, which are known as VAMS (from Van Allen and Mallis, the two leaders of the hobby). It is a hobby for people with an eye for detail and (let’s call a spade a spade) too much time on their hands. Normal collectors are a bit strange, I admit, but this is taking collecting one step beyond.

Still, it’s nice to see an enthusiast at work, even if it would have been more relaxing to have had less detail. Detail is for the real enthusiast. Dabblers like me need a bit more explanation and would have liked to have heard more about his hunt for coins rather than the hundreds of facts he threw at us.

All this, of course, reminds me that there is just one more meeting until I give my talk on medallions and the history of the 20th Century. There is a lot to sort out before then, including how to use the Open Office Presentation software, and whether it’s going to work on the screen in the meeting room. Once that is done I can concentrate on avoiding the faults I am so keen to mention when reviewing the talks given by others.

However, as the poet Cowper reminds us in the Olney Hymns, God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform. I will be talking about that, because one of the medallions in the collection relates to Cowper and Olney. I’mm hoping that by some sort of magic a random collection of medals and facts becomes a wonder of numismatic entertainment.

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

Medallions, Mental States and Motivation

I’m currently stuck in the middle of a mental crisis. I have a talk on medallions to do at the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire in three months time and am stuck. Imagine a car on a muddy road. It is bogged down and its turning wheels are doing nothing but adding churned up mud to the growing problem. No forward motion, no smoke from burning rubber (though there will be soon), no panic yet, but a definite feeling of doom.

That is the equivalent of my current mental state. I don’t really like public speaking, but it no longer terrifies me as it once did. I’m not going to add much to the enjoyment or education of the listeners, but they won’t mind, they will just be grateful it isn’t them. And, most importantly, they won’t realise how far short the talk falls short in relation to my original plan.

And that’s where I am. badly prepared and doing nothing. The feeling of doom is growing slowly and the panic is fluttering away at the back of my mind, but currently, it is a mere feeling of unease and I am able to ignore it. Yes, I could use it to motivate myself, but I won’t. I have nothing against preparation and competence, but like many things (bungee jumping and repointing chimney stacks, for instance) I’m content to leave it to others.

Citizenship Medal – West Lothian Council

Citizenship Medallion – West Lothian Council (reverse) by Tower Mint

Talking of medallions, as I will be in three months time, here is the latest addition to my collection of Citizenship Medallions. Another eBay purchase. It is as struck and comes in a spotless case from the Tower Mint. I’m tempted to discuss the merits of the Tower Mint, its name and its products, and put it in the wider context of modern numismatics. But I won’t, as it’s a subject of limited interest to most people. I will just say that if you see something advertised in a Sunday magazine or on TV (usually by a retired military officer) don’t buy them. Such things are usually available on eBay or in a coin shop (if you are lucky enough to have one near you) for half the original price, sometimes less.


Day 98

This morning my new office chair was delivered. Part of it was poking out of the box but it seemed to have escaped undamaged. Unfortunately when we opened the box another part was broken. The free next day delivery service seems to involve a lot of throwing things about and only a little padding.

To be fair, I got straight on the “live chat” section of their website and after ten minutes of chat and attaching photos it was all sorted. Packaging 0/10, customer service (so far) 10/10. However, I am waiting to see what happens before I become too optimistic. There’s a long way between promising something and delivering it.

In the evening I cooked roast veg, red cabbage, sausages and gravy and we had a healthy tea. I also cooked chickpea and sweet potato curry for Sunday. The plan is to make veggie burgers tomorrow as I had burger buns delivered tonight. Really we shouldn’t be eating all that bread but you can’t be good all the time.

This is my way of saving money and calories – if I have food and plans ready I am less likely to reach for a takeaway menu and the phone.

Chickpea and peanut butter thai red curry – almost chickpea and sweet potato

In between I put quite a lot of stuff on eBay for work and checked my medallion collection ready to start planning the talk. Miraculously, I found them all. They are in four different locations but they are all there. In size they vary from 16mm to 70mm so it’s not possible to house them all together. I’m thinking of ordering some new coin trays for one of my cases and in that case they might all go together, but that might just be an idle dream.

Top picture features vegetables that we were served at Carsington water in the days we used to go out.

Day 95

Blood test at 10.20. Think of me sitting there with my sleeve rolled up. I’m hoping then blood flows well, but after the last time I had a sample taken at the doctors I am not optimistic. I really should think about getting my own machine to do finger prick tests, but it goes against the grain to buy medical equipment on eBay.

I took delivery of some medallions from eBay this morning.  I spent £22 on four medallions and they all looked quite good when they arrived. So far I’ve only checked one of them out. A similar one is for sale on a dealer’s list (not eBay, which is not a good guide) for £38, so it looks like it was a successful buy. There are more important things than making money, but it’s always nice when you buy a bargain.

I’m sure I will never make a profit on my collection of 1919 Peace Medallions, because I often get locked in a bidding war when buying them, but with the others I try to be more sensible.

When I was younger I used to think that if I paid too much inflation would take care of the problem. Generally this is true as prices do tend to rise with most things. The only problem is that when you are thirty there is a lot of inflation in your future. These days it won’t be many years before downsizing or mortality makes a sale necessary so I have to be a bit more thoughtful. On the other hand, as with the Peace Medals, I tend to think that if I haven’t got it after thirty years of collecting, I shouldn’t let it go for the sake of a few pounds.

The header picture is the obverse of the 1919 Birmingham Peace Medal, one of the commoner town medals given out to school children. The initials MBL next to Victory’s feet, stands for Matthew Boulton Ltd, a factory, set up in 1775 by Matthew Boulton and James Watt to produce steam engines. They later specialised in minting, and ,made the famous cartwheel pennies.

Birmingham Peace Medal – reverse