Tag Archives: Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire

Savoury Porridge and Coins

Sorry, I’ve not been about much recently. I have no excuse. The travel last weekend and the push towards a dozen submissions for the month have all taken their toll, but I could have been more disciplined, and I fell short of my targets. Reluctantly, I am forced to admit that the years cannot be ignored and I am going to have to make some concessions to healthy living. More sleep, more fish and more savoury porridge.

Savoury porridge is something I have often thought of, but always dismissed. For one thing, I have always had a feeling that if it were possible, I’d have seen it on TV. For another, there are connotations of gruel hanging around the idea of savoury porridge and the shadow of the workhouse is never far away. However, I saw an example of Billy Mann’s blog and though it is visually questionable, it seems nutritious and simple.

Penguins on Falklands 50p coin

Looking on the internet, I found this site. Looks like I’m missing out. Not sure I’m keen on their suggestions, or on eating it for breakfast, but at least I’m not going to be regarded as a culinary eccentric. I probably won’t be able to persuade Julia, but for those days when I’m left to fend for myself, I can feel some experimentation coming on.

Apart from the savoury porridge I’ve also discovered that I still have some  vestiges of my old sales skills. I am a product of the Tack school of salesmanship, as was my father. I just looked up Alfred Tack and wa amazed to see that apart from the sales training and books, he was also the author of a number of Golden Age detective novels. I never knew that. Anyway, I’ve been asking customers if they want to join the Numismatic Society and so far have recruited three,

It’s not the hardest sell, they are clearly interested in coins because they are in a coin shop. The fees are £5 a year, which is cheap, and this year they get a free book – the history of the first 75 years of the society. All you need to do is ask, which is where we have been deficient in previous years. I didn’t want to start interfering, but I’ve been in a few years now, and I think it’s time to start making some moves.

Silver Britannia coin (Special Edition)

All clubs need to work at improving, or they will wither and die. This is particularly true of a club where the average age of members is 65. I’ve started trying to encourage a bit more activity by taking a display down to each meeting, and I’ve set myself a target of adding ten members this year. It could take a bit of doing, but what use is a target if you don’t have to stretch a bit?

Pictures are numismatic based as I don’t, yet, have any pictures of savoury porridge.

The Auction

Back to last night . . .

I ended up being late and arrived at the auction as Lot 11 was going through. This wasn’t actually a problem as I had nothing marked until Lot 22. Prices were strong for the ancient cons with brisk bidding. We don’t actually make any money from the auction, but it’s nice to see good prices as it means members are showing enthusiasm, and are obviously getting things which they want.

Lot 22 came up. It ws a coin weight of Charles I, with a good clear portrait. I fancied it as a good example, and something that would be an interesting piece in my small collection of interesting things.  (Note how little excuse I need when buying shiny things). In the earlier days of our coinage, when the value of a coin was guaranteed by it’s weight of gold or silver, merchants would weigh the coins to check they were full weight and value.

I chased it up from £10 to £40 but decided to le it go at that point. It’s not something I collect, just something I fancied as a curiosity.

After another gap, bidding opened on a token that had been sold in Newark during the Boer War (1899-1902) to raise funds for the families of troops fighting overseas.

Borough of Newark Mayor’s Fund 1900 (Obverse)

Borough of Newark Mayor’s Fund 1900 (Obverse)

I’m told they come in silver and in gilded bronze, and also in official boxes, but I’ve only ever seen loose bronze ones like this, which is  better example than the one I currently have in my collection.

After that I waited for the Nottingham Transport tokens, adding to my collection with a nice brass one (they are mainly plastic). That cost £10 for two tokens, but I split it with another collector after the sale so ended up with one for £5. I then bought seven plastic tokens for £7. It wasn’t one of my better buys as I have six of them already and just wanted one that I don’t have. Sometimes this happens. I will,I expect, eventually sell the rest.

Nottingham Corporation Transport Blind Person Transport Token  – Number

Nottingham Corporation Transport Blind Person Transport Token  – Coat of Arms

Then I waited for a local street trader’s arm badge. There’s not much more to be said about it. At some time in the past (I suspect they were pre-war, but I haven’t really researched them) street traders would have worn these on their arms. It is marked by Hiatt of Birmingham on the edge – Hiatt were well known makers of police equipment, including the arm badges of Special Constables between the wars, which were similar to, but larger than this badge.

Derby Street Trader’s Badge – made by Hiatt

Are you getting the idea that I’m spending quite a lot of time being bored between lots? If you are, it’s an accurate picture. Our volunteer auctioneer makes a decent job of it, and is as good as a lot of the professional auctioneers you see around the country, but club auctions don’t give him much to work with – lot after lot of low value lots being pursued by grim middle-aged men nursing grudges against other members and trying to get something for nothing.

Finally we got among the cheap medallions and I made a few purchases for my medallion collection – three lots for a total of £7.

In all it was just over and hour of boredom on a hard chair with a few minutes of excitement every so often. At least the chair kept me awake. I once sat on a comfortable settee in a Lincolnshire country auction and only just woke up in time for the lots I wanted to bid on.

It is the nature of an auction that the anticipation is generally better than the actual experience, and that I think more about the coin weight I didn’t buy than the things which I did buy.


Our Speaker for Tonight . . .

It is done. It could have been done better, but it could also have been a lot worse. Learning from last time, I spoke louder, looked directly at the various grumbling miscreants on the back row and projected an air of confidence.

Even half an hour before I started, this was not the impression you would have received if you had been watching me. I only finished fifteen minutes before I was due to leave home. It had gone OK, but I had decided that I needed a few extra slides to ensure I hit my target of 40-45 minutes. These always take more time than you think, even if you are doing simple slides (two photos and a title). That meant I didn’t start to download the presentation to memory stick until the time I had set aside for changing clothes. and combing my hair.

The first memory stick didn’t have enough room for the presentation. The second was faulty, but, thank goodness, took the download. Because I use Open Office, I had to save as PowerPoint (using two formats as I wasn’t sure which one the screen used in the meeting room). It probably takes either, but there’s no point in taking chances. Fortunately I had established the need for PowerPoint  at a previous meeting – one of my few bits of forward planning. I just didn’t realise there were two formats until I started the download. That was how I came to leve home without any grooming . . .

Shuffling sheets of paper with your head down as you mumble lists of facts and figures is a very popular way of giving this sort of presentation. It shows commendable organisation and ensures that the audience gets all the information. However, you on’t be surprised to find that I don’t do it that way, I just switch the screen on and start talking. As I was later than I had intended that is what happened. Walk in, say hello, listen to the Secretary for a few minutes, be introduced and away . . .

Some Peace Medallions – 1919 – 1920

There are pitfalls to this approach, and wild hair, toast crumbs and a general air of dishevelment are only the start.

Fortunately I didn’t fall into many of them. Politics and royalty can be tricky subjects. My list of personal characteristics of Edward VIII (war hero, party animal, fell out with parents, altogether too fond of Nazis and American divorcees) linked past with present Prince Harry and even raised a modest laugh. It could, I confess, have gone either way.

I stumbled a little over the list of royal wedding presents in 1947. That Queensland sent 500 cases of tinned pineapple is well known, and 900 kg of boiled sweets sent by the Australian Junior Red Cross is easy enough to remember, but I had to consult a prompt card for 50,000 food parcels from the USA and 804 tonnes of food from the City of Toronto. Times were hard in 1947. Bread and potatoes were rationed after the war due to poor harvests (something we had avoided during the war, and medal design, as you can see from the pictures, was at a low ebb. (Yes, I have used those photos before).

Royal Wedding 1947 Obverse

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

I also forgot a couple of other things I meant to mention and  omitted to set my timer when I started, so I finished 5-10 minutes earlier than planned. However, it’s better to be ten minutes too short than ten minutes too long. In my view too many speakers ignore that simple fact.

That’s over 500 words. It’s enough.


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

Day 97

I’m sixty-three years old and I just did something I’ve never done before.

New things are quite common when you are young, but I honestly thought that apart from a colonoscopy I had no novel experiences left in life. I suppose there’s still bigamy and necromancy but, to be honest, I prefer a warm drink and a spot of TV.

So, you ask, what did I do? I “checked all” on my ASDA shopping and pressed the “order” button. It took about ninety seconds to do the shopping. It’s not something I normally do because it’s supposedly bad for the diversity of your diet. However, it will be three weeks since our last  ASDA order so it’s not a real duplication. Ninety seconds to do a week’s shopping, and that included selecting the time slot. I’m impressed. Of course, by the time I’ve been informed that much of it is out of stock, I suppose it will take a bit longer.

I’ve just had another poem accepted. It sounds like the magic has worn off a little when I put it like that. I sent ten off, so I also had nine rejected, but it doesn’t sound quite so impressive put like that.

On the other hand, it’s a tanka, so it’s only five lines. I suppose a proper poet would only consider it a verse. Of course, a proper poet would say “stanza”. I’m not sure when this happened, they were definitely “verses” when I was at school.

Medal for the closing of the Central Ordnance Depot 1982 – it refers to the explosion in 1918 which killed 134 people. At the time it was suggested that the factory staff should be awarded a collective VC because of the speed they returned to full production.

Finally, in a day of novelty and adventure, I’ve been asked if I can do another talk at the Numismatic Society. There are two ways that you can take this. My first thought was relief, as it shows my last one, on the Peace Medals of 1919, wasn’t too bad. My second reaction was, obviously, panic. Fortunately it’s planned for the early part of 2023 so I have  a year to prepare. As you may recall from the previous one, that’s eleven and a half months to think and two weeks to panic.

My subject is “A Hundred Years of Medallions” and will be about my attempt to form a collection of medallions – one for each year from 1900 to 2000. It’s actually 101 years, but as nobody agrees when the century starts and ends I thought I’d avoid the argument and just add an extra medallion.

Magistrates’ Court Medallion – two new courts were opened in 1996 – Nottingham and Mansfield

There’s an obvious flaw in my plan. After three years of thinking about it, I’ve only just started collecting the medallions seriously. So far I have secured 44, leaving me with 57 to go. I’ll have more by the time the talk comes round, so there will be plenty to talk about. All I need is the slides and photos.

Talking of which, I can’t remember where I put the stick with the last presentation on it, so at the moment I can’t even remember how many slides I’m going to need.

The header picture is a bronze medal designed by Paul Vincze for the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Birth. The others have titles attached.

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 – a time of national shame at the poor quality medallions that were being produced.

Day 10

The day started with a heap of orders. One of them was for £300 of bulk coins and another was an order for 30 different items. It was nearly 2.00pm by the time we got it all done, and there was such a long queue in the post office that we had to leave the parcels there and go back later. It looks like everyone had a good weekend on eBay.

The photographs are the aluminium medallion I mentioned a couple of days ago. I finally got round to finding the camera I managed to mislay over the weekend.

One side of the aluminium medallion – not sure which is obverse and which is reverse

With penny for size comparison

I’ve just had a break and am now back at the computer on a Zoom meeting with the Numismatic Society.  It’s a bit tricky as I have no camera or microphone, but I am able to see other people and hear them. Well, the ones that have cameras and microphones – I’m not the only Luddite in the Society.

The advantage of Zoom, as I’m finding, is that you can write a blog post and order pizza whilst being at a meeting. This is why the “no camera” option suits me. They won’t be able to see me eating. It’s not quite the healthy option I was intending, I will have to make it up to my body by eating lots of salad for the rest of the week.

It’s quite an interesting talk tonight, though counter-stamped coins of various Caribbean islands are not something I’d ever thought about before.  As I said before – collecting expands the mind.


Preparing to Prepare

I have started.

After looking at a number of sites for advice on Power Point I found myself no wiser after a couple of hours. I recognised the words but not the concepts. It involves buttons and menus and stuff, but I knew that when I started. If you told me it involved dancing elephants and the Dagenham Girl Pipers I wouldn’t actually have any proof that you weren’t telling the truth. I am going to have to involve somebody considerably smarter and more technical than I am. Regular readers will realise that I am, of course, referring to Julia.

I did, however, take on one gem of wisdom – that you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Or, to put it another way, if the content is poor Power Point won’t improve it, just project it on the wall so that even people at the back of the room can see how bad it really is.

With that in mind I have started to think about the content.


Bradford on Avon Tribute Medal with Great War Campaign Medals

Another thing that I read was that you should follow the 10 – 20 – 30 rule. This states that a presentation should feature ten slides or less, last twenty minutes or less and involve a typeface of at least 30 points. This means that it has to be punchy, to the point and written in big letters so you can’t fit too many words onto a slide. As a further refinement they suggest dividing the age of the oldest member of the audience audience by two and using that as the minimum font size. As we have an eighty-year-old member that means 40 point, which, as he’s troubled by cataracts, is probably not a bad idea.

You see, I’m getting better already…

They actually expect about an hour, and to be fair, it needs to be around that length to make it worth people making then effort of comiing to the meeting. The material falls neatly into two halves so I’m going to aim for an introduction, two twenty minute sections and a summing up. That should keep it snappy and fill the time.

On that note I had better get off, as I now have some research to do.

The top picture is the Brighouse Tribute Medal with a pair of Great War Campaign Medals, the other is the medal from Bradford on Avon with a similar pair of medals. They are both going to feature in the presentation.