Tag Archives: royalty

An Unusual Medallion and Some Reflections on Life

As we sorted through our stock yesterday, adding items relevant to the Duke of Edinburgh, we found this medallion. It is, according to the books, the only souvenir medallion issued for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten.  The wedding, in 1947, came at a bad time for commemorative medals, as raw materials were in short supply and I assume people were thinking of other things.  In 1951, the Lesney company (later to be makers of the famous Matchbox range) nearly closed down because they were unable to get supplies of zinc, due to the needs of the Korean War. We also had bread and potato rationing in the years after the war due to bad harvests, neither of which had been rationed in the war.

A a further example of royal hand-me-downs, as mentioned in the above link. The famous Coronation coach model made by Lesney (a million selling souvenir) was originally designed as a commemorative for George VI and later remodelled after his death to become the Coronation coach model for the Queen. Cynicism in royal souvenirs has clearly existed for some time.

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

 

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

It’s not the most6 artistic medallion, but it does the job and shows a feature of many royal commemoratives, which persists to the present day – the Queen is depicted using a good likeness and the Duke is only identifiable as the Duke because he is next to his wife. I have other examples of this, but won’t bore you with them.

 

 

 

 

It appears that it wasn’t just me who thought the TV coverage hit the wrong note. I know it’s difficult but turning over both BBC channels to coverage of the Duke was, I feel, excessive. I thought that coverage of Diana’s demise was over the top, but it was at least unexpected, and it was news. Having said that, I have still not forgiven the British public for their great outpouring of grief for someone who, and I pick my words carefully, wasn’t really of much importance to most of us. It seems the BBC have probably overreacted because they were criticised for their lack of seriousness in dealing with the death of the Queen Mother.  I can’t remember what they did, so it was probably about right.

It’s an example of the way things have changed. In 1947 Britain still made things, These days we ship huge quantities of goods into the country from China. Plastic, in those days, was a wonder material. These days it’s held to be responsible for so much that is wrong with the way we live. In 1947 we produced a white metal medallion as a commemorative. Today, I am bracing myself for a deluge of low quality commemorative coins.

He has, it seems, left instructions for his funeral to be simple, which is pretty much what you would expect from a man who used to cook his own breakfast (in contrast to some of his bone-idle issue).

 

I Plod my Weary Way…

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Thomas Grey, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, but I expect you knew that.
It’s the first day of meteorological Spring today, and so it will be no surprise to learn that it was a foggy day with a lot of moisture in the air. If you’d simply plonked me down after six months in isolation I could probably have guessed it was Spring from the flowers, but the rest of it was very much like November, even the temperature.
Two days of Spring, then bang, it’s like a shutter coming down. Spring is over and autumn has returned.
However, it’s not all bad news. I have the day to myself and Julia made enough apple crumble for last night to provide a couple of generous portions tonight.
I’ve been watching the trailer for the Oprah interview with Megan and Harry. Speculation is rife. However, Julia is unimpressed by any of it and all it does is for me is bring out my regicidal tendencies. I have no faith in Republics, where the children of privilege rise to the top by money rather than merit, so we may as well keep our own system where we are governed by the children of privilege who went to Oxford University. However, the execution of Charles I did lead to the royals upping their game, and it’s probably about time to kill another one.
Looks like Charles is going to have to take one for the team, with Andrew as collateral damage, which will solve a few problems. I’d throw in Harry too. Now that William has kids Harry is irrelevant, something that he has failed to grasp.
I don’t know any Royals personally and have never studied them in depth, so I won’t say more, but I do think idea has some merit.
With a bit of thought I’m sure we could open it up to include celebrities and a public vote…
Meanwhile, back in reality, the header picture is Southwell and the pub at the end of the street is The Saracen’s Head. I suspect it will be renamed at some time in the future. On 5th May 1647 King Charles I stayed there and surrendered to the Scots, who were part of an army besieging Newark. The Scots, acting true to their reputation for frugality, sold him to Cromwell.

Last Week’s Photos

I took 425 photos last week, according to the count I just did. Exactly 200 were personal and 225 for work. I’m not surprised by the number of photos but I am surprised that they worked out to such tidy figures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cook Islands $1 – gold-plated copper with coloured detail

Of those, about half a dozen are blurred (as I delete obviously faulty ones at the time of taking, if I can) but many are poorly composed, badly lit or simply duplicates to make sure I get a decent shot.Many of the work shots are poorly lit because the subjects, particularly coin sets in boxes, and the lights (a couple of badly placed fluorescent tubes) aren’t really designed for good photography.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Guernsey 50p – much the same as the previous photo – they never circulate and are really just medallions for people who want lots of bright shiny stuff

And again!

And again!

It was a dull week at work – just coins. medallions and the cards that go with them. The “house style” so far as we have such a thing, is also dull, as the shop owner doesn’t like shots which might be more interesting than average. That’s a shame, as I like to look for slightly more interesting angles. Apart from taking pride in my work, it breaks up the tedium of taking 225 photos of shiny, round things.

The other problem I have with him is that he doesn’t use a camera himself. This means he doesn’t understand lighting, or the way the camera sees the shot, particularly the colour rendition. He can’t see why we can’t replicate the picture his eye sees. Most of the time we get decent shots, but with a good camera, good lighting and with some decent equipment such as tripods and diffusers, we could do a lot better.

This is a medallion to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s First Flight.

A lot of them have to be photographed inside plastic capsules, which doesn’t help.You can’t win with that one. If you take a proof coin out of a capsule you get criticism for taking it out and, in the view of the critic, putting finger marks on the coin. If you leave it in you get questions about whether a scratch is on the coin or the capsule.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Crowns – from the Festival of Britain 1951 to Wedding of Charles & Diana 1981

So here are a few of last week’s coin and medallion photos. Not really much of a challenge, apart from the poor equipment, and not much of a feeling of a job well done either. It’s fortunate I have a blog to keep me going.

 

 

Dullness Personified

This morning we only had two parcels to do, which didn’t take long. In the afternoon we had four more sales. I suspect some people were bunking off and using the office computer for eBay instead of work.

The rest of the day was taken up with refilling drop down menus (which can be tricky if you let your mind drift), sorting coin covers (as in First Day Covers with coins on, not covers for coins) and drinking coffee.

It wasn’t the most interesting day I’ve ever had.

As you look at the pictures of First Day Covers, and your eyes glaze over, you may understand my view.

There was a letter from the Anticoagulant Service when I got home – I have passed yesterday’s blood test and as a reward I now have three weeks until the next test.

A busy evening followed, as I began work on my talk for the Numismatic Society.

I’m sure the enthusiasm will wear off soon…

Now I’m off to pick No2 Son up from work – he had a late shift today. It’s misleadingly named as the night shift is, of course, much later.

I’m not sure how long I can sustain this level of excitement.

I would say “be still, my beating heart”, but considering the dire warnings I keep getting from the Anticoagulant Service this might be tempting fate.

Coins, coins, coins…

Yesterday, we had quite a few people in the shop and I spent a lot of the day in the front of the shop talking rather than working. Today was the opposite and I spent most of the time sitting in the back room typing a seemingly endless list of coins into eBay. 

These aren’t just ordinary coins, these are tedious modern coins mounted on First Day Covers commemorating things like the Queen Mother’s birthday, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a Royal Visit to the Isle of Man. They are badly made, dull, uninspired and bring out the worst in me.

I’m generally in favour of tradition and  resistant to change. However, after a couple of hours of this I’m prepared to put the entire Royal Family up against a wall and shoot them (normally I only feel like this about Prince Andrew and Fergie and their unpleasant offspring). A couple of hours later I’m also prepared to undermine the entire capitalist system which makes the successful marketing of such trash possible.

Just a short post for now, though the new editor seems to lack the capacity to count my words. I’m off to polish my hammer and sickle and raise a red flag.

Meanwhile I still haven’t worked out the benefits of the new editor, in any, compared to the old one. I may well go back to the old one.

Royal Family 1937

More Moaning about Medallions

If there’s one area where the UK can be said to lead the world it’s the production of tawdry royal souvenirs. Many of them, well, the ones relating to royal marriages anyway, have outlasted the subject of their commemoration many times over.

Here are some souvenirs of short-lived royal marriages. If there was any justice you’d be able to send them to Buckingham Palace for a refund.

There is, I seem to recall, something called the Royal Effigies Act, but it seems to have been replaced by the Trade Marks Act 1994. When you look at the royal effigies in these picture you have to wonder if making them look like monkeys is a way of getting round the legislation.

I feel a bit more positive about the birthday and Jubilee medallions, and about the portraits used, though a day of entering them on eBay can wear the shine off anything.

They will be loaded on eBay this week, so I’m hoping that we will get rid of some of them in the next week or two – I need the room on my desk!

Check out the rest of the shop here.

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,