December 2004.

Next club meeting Monday 10th January 2005.

Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.

December meeting.

The December meeting was a talk given by Dr S Bhandare entitled `Aspects of Oriental coins’. In fact, with the aid of a comprehensive set of slides, the speaker gave an overview of Indian coinage from circa 500 BC to modern times - no mean feat to cover such a complex subject in 50 minutes.

After a brief introduction on the birth of coinage and the differing production techniques utilised in the various parts of the world we were shown examples of the earliest Indian money from the Northern regions. These were simply silver bars with 3 or 4 punch marks. With virtually no written records at this time the speaker explained the difficulties in attempting to place these pieces in chronological order. In fact for the later pieces it is the style of the marks that has been used to suggest the placement in a time line. The difficulties in attributing the numerous pieces is also made more difficult by there being so many regions/ states issuing their own money with minor variations. Then around 300 BC the 16 principal states seem to have become a single dominant entity where bar money with 5 punch marks was the norm.

From around 200 BC the Northern Indian money was very much influenced by the Greeks. Some coinages such as that in Batria, is very Greek in style while in other areas the coinage remained basically Indian with Greek features. Other coins looked Greek but had Indian legends. All these differing aspects have greatly assisted scholars in being able to determine the historical sequence of issue and region. Moving forward in time there occurred a gradual fragmentation of the states leading to a monarchical system of mini states. Here the coinage became more primitive and tended to depict Indian deities - some show Bhuda for the first time. This period was followed by the reigns of the Gupta's where the figures on the coinage are well executed, very lifelike and usually depicted performing activities that illustrate the duties and responsibilities of the king, eg protecting subjects, waging war or playing royal games. In about 600AD a tribe (Heiss?) invaded the region from and the coinage introduced was derived from the Sassanians. Initially of good style with the passage of time the designs generated into a series of disjointed lines - probably akin to our Belgic stators derived from the coins of Alexander.

Turning back the clock Mr Bhandare then spoke briefly on the coinage of Southern India which was very much influenced by the Romans and trade with the Roman colonies in Egypt. Many early gold coins had a very Roman appearance, with only the legends signifying their regional origin. Later however, the iconography took on a more Indian look with many of the depicted deities being associated with Indian religious orders. At this time punch marks make a reappearance.

In the 11th century the rise of Islam really began to take a hold in India. The rules of this order were very different to what had gone before. For example this religion forbade the image of the rulers to appear on the coins. While the transition did not happen overnight there was a gradual change and the imagery became more stylised. However, within 60 years all imagery had gone to be replaced Arabic type script. This period lead to the era of the Sultans who in due course were themselves replaced by the Moguls. By the 18th century the names of the Mogul rulers were placed on the coins, along with other distinguishing marks. When the East India Company first became prominent they tended to stick with the traditional and accepted Mogul style of coins. Gradually however, while the style remained the same the meaning of the legends became more westernised. Finally in 1835 the 3 prominent EIC presidencies, namely Bombay,Madras and Calcutta, decided to issue a uniform coinage based upon the Rupee.

To close his talk Mr Bhandare spoke briefly on British India rupee so familiar to collectors of Commonwealth coins.

Overall a very informative and well presented talk. Our Thanks to Mr Bhandare.

Last meeting - A small packet of commemorative coins was found in the church hall after the last meeting. If you have lost these please collect from the church warden at the next meeting

Future Meetings

The club auction will take place at the February meeting. So please bring along your coins, medals, tokens, banknotes and any other numismatic material to the January meeting and hand them to any committee member.

The club fund commission for selling at this year’s auction will be 10% for lots up to £20 and 5% for lots over £20. There will be no charge for unsold lots.

If we all put in just a few lots we can make this an enjoyable and successful evening.

Future Events

Birmingham Coin Fair back at the Motor Cycle Museum – 9th January

Croydon Coin Auctions – 11th January

Davidson Monk Coin Fair at Jury's Hotel, Russel Square, London - 15th January

Next year we are proposing to arrange a skittles evening at the Red Lion in Theale in April ( probably 9th or 16th ). At the January meeting we will be asking for a show of hands to gauge interest.

We are now putting together next years programme. If any member has an idea for a guest speaker, topics they would like to hear or suggestions for the summer social event please speak to a committee member.

Who are you?

To promote getting to how each other better we would like each member to wear the name badges at future meetings. If you cannot find your tags in the box next to the singing in book please advise the secretary.

Past Events

In December 1974 Mrs Dalme-Radcliffe gave an illustrated talk on the coinage of Edward IV.

20 years ago was a poorly attended members evening which left the committee at the time pondering the future.

10 years ago the club auction took place - no details to report.

A Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to All Our Members.

And finally ...

Continuing the theme of re-publishing articles and talks presented in the early years of the club here is one from the past.

Meeting held on 5th May 1969.

The Evolution of English Token Coinage and Trader’s Tokens of the 17th Century

Mr. J.L. Wetton

The token coinage of this country occurs throughout past centuries and gives one a very useful indication of the social conditions prevailing in the country at the time it appears.

Apart from one small Anglo-Saxon copper coin this country had no copper or bronze coinage for 1200-1300 years, from the last of the Roman which was circulating in about 400 A.D. to the first of the regal coppers which appeared in Charles II time. All our coinage was of gold and silver down even to the very smallest farthing. However circumstances changed throughout the years as goods became more readily available and standards of living improved and particularly gold and silver became increasingly used for purposes other than coinage such as for plate and jewelry. One found therefore that gold and silver became rather scarce. This led to a reduction in the size of our currency in silver and gold and our coins became very tiny and inconvenient to use. This inadequacy of our regal coinage was the main reason for the outburst of token coinage probably commencing in medieval times. The very first types of tokens may have been little leaden pieces or discs and they may have been developed from old baling tags which were used by merchants to bale up goods particularly woollen cloth. Some of these are in Reading museum and they are quite easy to obtain. Some of the later ones have names on them accompanied by illustrations of dogs or horses and these would almost certainly be used as tavern tokens. These tokens persisted until the middle of the eighteenth century, about 500/600 years.

Going back again to the 15th century we find that the shortage of our regal currency was met not by tokens so much but by the importation of a good deal of foreign coinage into the country. It did not really matter whether the coinage was of this country or foreign as long as the intrinsic value of the metal was equivalent to its face value. As such foreign coins were not legal currency in this country could be described as tokens. Perhaps the best example are the "Nuremburgs" made in Germany for over 700 years. Some were actually made for circulation in this country with the head of King Charles on them although tokens have never been an authorised currency in this country. They are quite plentiful.

At the beginning of the 17th century to meet the demand for a low value coin it was decided to produce a series of base metal farthings. Concessions were given to some of the King's favourites to produce these patent farthings, such noblemen as Earl Harrington, Earl Lennox and Lord Maltravers. They are very tiny pieces with James I or Charles I round the edge. They only lasted a few years, were very unpopular and ultimately were withdrawn. These coins were a semi-authorised currency but nevertheless provided a useful profit for the King and the concessionaires.

Apart from the three types of token coinage mentioned above the first recognised series of tokens started in 1649, the year when Charles I was executed. This is an important year to remember as up to this year the prerogative of coinage belonged to the King. With his death and the non-succession of another monarch this prerogative fell into abeyance. Also the complexities of the governmental machine after his death meant that the administration was thoroughly pre-occupied in directions other than coinage. Thus the field was wide open for the introduction of the 17th century token coinage.

The first tokens issued in 1649 lasted until 1672, the date when the first regal coppers of Charles II were issued. They came in three denominations, penny, halfpenny and farthing size. Basically it was a round farthing coinage and it is believed that the term "brass farthing" originated from this series. The halfpenny or double tokens came heart shaped and octagonal in addition to the round ones and heart shaped are much sought after. The pennies which are quite scarce were roughly the size of our present penny and were always round. They were mainly struck in brass but some were copper and some are a mixture of the two, an outer rim being of one metal and an inner circle of the other on which the inscription is stamped over. Also there occurred occasional tin tokens. Generally they were struck between a press similar to the office letter presses which were in commercial use earlier this century. As to the places of manufacture we are somewhat rather in the dark. One theory is that they were made locally since there is a considerable "family" difference between the tokens of various places. Some, however, say that the great majority of them were made at the mint in bulk by David Rammidge in about 1660 although there is, however insufficient evidence to prove either theory. The latter is the one generally accepted. There were about 10 million tokens issued and about 17,500 different types. We do not know how many traders in each different town did in fact issue their own tokens but the tokens circulated into virtually every town and village in the country even the smallest hamlet except Scotland which had at that time its own copper currency. One interesting feature of this is that it gives a good guide to the relevant importance of these places at that time. For example Bournemouth and Aldershot have no tokens for they did not exist in the 17th century, whereas Winchester and Reading have an enormous issue because they were then large towns. The tokens invariably contained the issuer's name and more often that not some indication of his trade and thus they provide a good trade directory during a period when there was virtually nothing else to indicate the structure of a town. The circulation of the tokens in a particular area depended on the size of the town. For instance in a sma11 town one traders' tokens were acceptable throughout the whole area but in a larger town such as Reading his token may be restricted to his own area in the town. In London they would just circulate in the immediate vicinity of the shop or inn from which they were issued. A sole example of the cost of these tokens is £20 paid by Oxford Corporation for 100,000 farthings.The machinery of circulation worked very well and worked on a simple interchange of tokens and regal currency between various issuers covering certain periods.

The issue of 17th century tokens came to an end in 1672 when regal copper half pennies and farthings came into being and the circulation of tokens was made illegal.

Some brief notes on the issue:

Some very interesting tokens were handed round the audience and they included practically all specimens of the issue and also a silver "pattern" token. Some enlarged photographs demonstrated quite remarkably how each issuer's trade was illustrated on his particular token.