Tag Archives: Royal Mint

History and Heroes

I like medallions.

I particularly like well-made Victorian medallions in their original boxes, but that’s just another case of me having champagne tastes and a beer income.

So here are some medallions we put on eBay this week.

First up is Canterbury Cathedral, a well-struck high relief medallion with lots of detail. It’s not the most inspiring subject but it’s done well and there’s an aura of quality hanging round it. This aura obviously communicates itself electronically as it has already sold.



The next one commemorates 21 years of the Volunteer Movement. Founded in 1860 as a reaction to political tensions with the French, the Volunteers built on the tradition of local units raised in Napoleonic times. After nearly 50 years they became the Territorial Force in 1908 and they are now known as the Army Reserve. Each incarnation has seen them become more serious and slightly more removed from the local community. I suppose that’s progress.

It is an extremely well-struck medal and this particular example has traces of original lustre and the box of issue. The box has seen some wear over the years but retains its original velvet and silk lining.

On the reverse, St Michael guards a woman an children, supported by three warriors representing England, Scotland and  Ireland. You can tell this from the rose, thistle and shamrock on their shields.

The final medal was produced by the Royal Mint in 1990. It’s good for a modern medal, but still suffers by comparison to proper, old medallions. It commemorates 200 years of lifeboat design. I like it because it has an interesting historical subject and it’s treated with enthusiasm (even if it does have a dull, low-relief reverse).

-Of all the heroes we’ve ever had, you’ll have to search hard to beat a lifeboat man, as this link shows.

Thoughts on Modern Coins

It wasn’t the most interesting of days.

Rain, repetitiveness and a limited supply of customers all conspired to make it a bland sort of day.

We have some new stock, but they are mainly modern coins, and I think you know my view on this sort of thing. I just had a look at the Royal Mint website, to post a link and this is what I found. A thousand years of minting history, which has brought us some of the most beautiful coins in the world (though this is, of course, a matter of taste) is now bringing us the Game of Thrones series.

If the decay of the modern world was on trial, and I was prosecuting, I would now rest my case.

I applaud the fact that people are now searching through their change looking for coins to collect, and it’s even better that they are coming into the shop to fill gaps in their collections. But look at what they are being offered.

There are other organisations that produce coins, and put marketing ahead of value and aesthetics, but they aren’t grinding a thousand years of history under the heel of commercialism. That, and the fear of legal action, means that I will just mention the Royal Mint.

I don’t even mind about the commercialism, it’s the poor standards of design and trivial nature of many of the subjects that really get to me. As a result, I can’t even get a decent picture to illustrate the post, so please accept my apologies for the poor quality photos.

Currency, Collectables and a Coin Too Far…

First trip of the day was running Julia up to Worksop for a First Aid course.

It was a lovely morning, with sunlight streaming through trees in Sherwood Forest and illuminating the mist with rays of golden light. By the time I could find a parking space to take photographs the trees were too thick to admit light. By the time we found a better spot the mist had gone.

Just one more missed opportunity…

I misjudged the timing and was ten minutes late for work. I hate being late, though I’d warned them in advance as a precaution.

It was currency today.

I now know the difference between Latvian Lats and Lithuanian Litas. As they have both been superseded by the Euro, this knowledge is of limited use.

I also sorted the shekels and thought of alliterative ways of making sense of the rest of the accumulated foreign currency. I divvied up the Dirhams, divided the Dinar, ranked the Rand, realigned the rupees (Mauritian) and zoned the Zlotys. The Peruvian Sols were a step too far.

Having exhausted the entertainment possibilities of foreign currency I spent a while sorting Royal Mint coin sets by denomination and the size of the presentation pack.

It was a close run thing whether my will to live, or my supply of soul-destroying jobs would last longer.

Just one more coin could have tipped the balance.

The will to live and the supply of jobs were running neck and neck when the working day ended, and it was time to pick Julia up for an evening of Shepherd’s Pie and complaining about our days.

There was a hint of humour in the day when two customers managed to get lost entering the shop. They came through the first door then, instead of coming through the door with the bright, expensive sign, they turned into the Indian Takeaway.

You have to wonder how they managed to find us in the first place.


Do you think this sign is big enough?


So Much Stuff, So Little Time

The Royal Mint has just released a series of 10 pence coins featuring the 26 letters of the alphabet, each one representing a feature of Britishness.

Like so many modern coins, they could well have been designed in an afternoon by a group of kids. They don’t show a great flair for design, and some of them show a somewhat hazy grasp of Britishness. Given half an hour I’m sure I could come up with a better set.

We haven’t had any phone calls about them yet, but they aren’t released until next Monday so there is still time. It seems that they will be making 100,000 of each design, which is quite low in mintage terms. However, if you read another article, they are doing a million of each and will make more in years to come.  Another paper is already reporting on rarity and values. Looks like the misinformation has already started…

When not applying my waning brain power to balancing on ice and learning about 10 pence coins I’ve been looking up details of snow clearance and winter preparations in other countries.

I now know the snowiest city in the world, and it’s not where I thought it would be. I was thinking Canada/Russia/USA. It’s actually Aomori City in Japan with 312 inches a year. That’s taller than four tall men. Even the 10th city on the list – Buffalo, NY, has 95 inches of snow a year. Some years in Nottingham we don’t have much more than a couple of hard frosts. Even this year I doubt we’ve had more than 6 inches in total, and this has been a Very Snowy Year.

I also know there’s a shortage of snowplough drivers in Maine, that they have special facilities to store winter tyres in Sweden and that last November Chicago deployed 210 snowploughs to clear a light fall of snow. There are only 450 snowploughs in the whole of the UK.

And finally, I know that although we always complain about winter disruption, we would complain even louder if we had to pay for winter tyres and extra snowploughs.