February 16th 2004.

Next club meeting Monday 1st March 2004.

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

February meeting.

The last meeting was the annual club auction. Twelve members submitted 177 lots comprising coins, medals, tokens, books and paper money. A total of 802 was paid for the 134 lots that sold, which means a significant % of lots (43) did not sell. The club funds benefited to the tune of 77 from both commissions and donated lots.

Other than those already paid, persons expecting monies from the sale of their lots will find a cheque enclosed with this newsletter. After the auction several dealer tables were opened up and some were still trading at lights out.

Speakers.

The committee is beginning to put together next years speaker programme. We would like to hear suggestions for speakers - what are you interested in? or are you prepared to give a talk? If you have suggestions please discuss with the programme secretary David (or any other committee member) at the next meeting.

Library.

Club members are reminded we do have an extensive numismatic library. It has recently been relocated to the side room adjacent to our meeting room. It is there to be used. If you are not sure of the borrowing arrangements our librarian Henry will be more than happy to assist.

The committee has recently been considering what would be suitable additions to the library. It has been decided that we will be progressively updating the volumes of Krause at the rate of one per year. If members have suggestions for other books with a wide appeal please share your thoughts with a committee member. At the last committee meeting the proposal to keep some of the clubs long-term records in the library was discussed and agreed. Another shelf will be placed in the library cabinet and a listing of the records posted on the inside door. These records will be the minute books, old newsletters, club correspondence, general papers and BANS/ BNS records. In addition each club officer will have a current file. It will be the elected officer's responsibility to periodically transfer records from current boxes to the long-term records and pass the current boxes to the next officer when standing down. By adopting this proposal it is hoped to achieve a more secure system of record keeping and avoid the search and transfer of numerous boxes from one house to another when new officers are elected. One specific point to note is that membership details/records will be held by the secretary rather than in a public place. If members have any views they wish to air please do so at the next meeting.

Social Events

The Spring Social skittles evening is being planned for Saturday 24th April, most likely at the Red Lion in Theale. Those interested should sign up at the next meeting when the chairman will make an announcement. The cost is 9 per head including food and prizes. Drinks are extra.

The Summer Social visit to the Royal Mint has been confirmed in principle by the Mint Authorities. The date we are suggesting is Friday 20th August so pencil this in your diaries. If you wish to see a 1933 penny or a set of Edward VIII coins then this is the trip to take. However, numbers are limited so if you are interested please advise a committee member as soon as possible. Please note Friday is the only day of the week when the Mint is open to invited visitors.

The celebratory dinner is still being planned for sometime in June - more news later.


Banbury Museum

Banbury Museum currently has a display of tokens amongst their fire-fighting display, covering the period 1870 to circa 1900. The tokens were issued to volunteers who responded to a call out. Each token represented 45 minutes at the hand pump and could be exchanged for a pint of beer as payment for services.

British Numismatic Society (BNS)

Find enclosed the BNS newsletter, the programme of meetings for 2004 and the details of the special meeting in July.

While on the subject of the BNS, members are reminded that the club membership means that we receive a copy of the BN Journal for our library. In fact we have just received the journals for 2002 and 2003, which will shortly be placed in the library. Many back numbers from previous years are also in the club library and available for members use.

British Association of Numismatic Societies (BANS)

As our club is a member of this association we are entitled to participate in activities organised by BANS. This includes attending the AGM, that usually takes place during Coinex. Last year our chairman attended and his report of the `highlights' is presented here.

The meeting was a long and full one, culminating in the showing of the new video for use in schools.

1) Reports from Officers - The first report was from the publications secretary, who said that each society would be sent details of the titles of publications that the society wished to sell at a discount.

The secretary reported that there had been only 10 letters in the year.

2) Meetings - There was then a report on the 2003 Congress, held at Bury St. Edmunds. This was hosted by the Ipswich Society and had 48 delegates including 3 from the USA and 3 from Northern Ireland. The meeting was very successful and covered its cost. There was a debate about the standard of accommodation required by delegates and it is thought that the standard should include en-suite facilities. This will necessitate a rise in the attendance fees for next year. The 2004 Congress will be at Chester, April 2-4th. A host is still being sought for the 2005 Congress but the 2006 Congress will be in Dublin hosted by the Numismatic Society of Ireland.

The Autumn Weekend was held in Manchester and there were 19 residential attendees. A successful meeting that also broke even thanks to a grant from the Royal Mint. The Autumn Weekend for 2004 will be held at the University of Worcester between September 10-12th. The cost will be about 120.

3) Local Society Reports

4) Videos - A video, intended for use in schools has been produced. It lasts about 25 minutes and features David Sellwood. If anyone knows of schools that might be interested using it as part of teaching History please let us know and we will get a copy for them. Initial reactions from the schoolchildren have been favourable.

Future Events.

Past Events

30 years ago Marion Archibald spoke to members on the Lincoln hoard discovered in 1971 that consisted of some 770 pennies of Henry I.

In 1984 a club bourse was held.

Ten years later 25 members attended a skittles evening.


Numismatic Interlude

As this is our celebratory year the secretary has been putting together a resume covering the history of the club. This will be briefly presented at the May meeting and published with the newsletter.

Putting this article together has entailed a good trawl through the old records and the discovery of some material fresh to all but a couple of existing members. Hence over the next year the intention is to republish/ write up some of the talks of yesteryear and mostly pre 1974.

The first one is presented overleaf and appropriately covers the 19th century tokens of Reading issued by J B Monck. The talk was given by David Edmunds at the July meeting in 1967.

J.B, MONCK AND HIS READING TOKENS

During the 18th, century, silver was comparatively scarce in England, whilst gold was relatively abundant. In fact, during the period 1702-1813, the total value of silver coins produced at the Royal Mint was only 790,000, This may have been partially due to the official price of silver being 5/2d. per Troy ounce as against the market price of 5/3d. to 5/4d. The rapid rise to 7 shillings per ounce between 1800 and 1813 must have completely stopped any private flow of silver to the mint for coining.

The silver coins actually circulating were very worn and badly diluted with counterfeit specimens. Some interesting figures are available comparing the numbers of shillings and sixpences to weigh 1 pound Troy:

1787 78 shillings 194 sixpences
1798 82 shillings 200 sixpences
1807 85 shillings 206 sixpences
1812 101 shillings 230 sixpences
Newly minted coins should legally be:
62 shillings 124 sixpences

To ease the situation some 5,000,000 worth of countermarked and restruck Spanish Dollars were issued. Many were hoarded, and the whole series was extensively counterfeited.

John Berkeley Monck was a prosperous gentleman and landowner, whose family traced their origins back to the time of the Norman Conquest. He was born in Bath in 1768, educated at Eton, and practised Law in London where he was called to the Bar. After a few years, however, his father died leaving him the sizeable fortune of 100,000, and in 1796 at the age of 28 he retired to Coley Park, Reading.

It seems that John Monck enjoyed the life of a provincial squire, and took part in many local activities. Reports in the Reading Mercury and Oxford Gazette show him in the lead in organizing charities and stirring the public conscience on the matters of the day. He was a sportsman, a Freemason, and a passionate advocate of the Reform Movement. In 1812, he wrote two long letters to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Spencer Perceval, complaining of the state of the coinage, and suggesting remedies. He was acute enough to realise that only a token coinage could succeed in preventing export and melting of the regal coinage as the intrinsic value of the metals rose. Whilst he thought that the Royal Mint should have the sole right to issue coins, as there were none being issued at that moment he proposed local tokens as a temporary expedient. He did in fact issue tokens - in silver for 1/6d. and 2/6d. and in gold for 40 shillings. The last named is interesting in that it was a forerunner of a new denomination of regal gold, the two pound piece first issued in 1823. Reading shares with Sheffield the honour of issuing the only gold tokens of the English Series, although a copper proof did exist of a Liverpool 1/2 guinea piece - apparently from altered dies of the Sheffield token.

There is only one type of 2/6d. known, but 4 varieties of the 1/6d. piece, although even these are now somewhat rarer. There is some evidence that none of the tokens were issued before 1812, although some are dated 1811. Spencer Perceval, who has the distinction of being the only English Prime Minister to have been assassinated in the House of Commons, wrote the previous day to Thomason of Birmingham, telling him not to strike any more gold tokens. They had all presumably been issued before this date, 12th. May, 1812, although local newspapers are remarkably silent on the matter.

Some interesting facts are to be found in Monck's replies to the Earl of Lauderdale's circular letter to token issuers, dated 21st. August, 1812, The total weight issued was given as 70 oz. of gold and 5,000 oz. of silver although the two denominations were not separated.

Of the silver circulating in the Reading area in 1813 Monck estimated a third to be Bank of England tokens and a quarter to consist of his own tokens. The regal coinage was so badly worn that a random sample of shillings averaged only 57 grains against a legal weight of 92 grains. Reading was better off than many other areas, as the Bank tokens did not circulate far from London. Records from Bath list 66% as local tokens and Bristol 91%.

Bank-notes were issued by all and sundry, and often could not be encashed without paying a 5% or 10% premium. Even so, up to 15 shillings in the pound would have to be taken in halfpennies. As early as 1797 the Bank of England had stopped issuing coins against its own notes. The Government, however, insisted that taxes be paid in coin.

Monck's tokens were of a very high standard. They were marked with the weight and fineness of metal, they carried the name and address of the issuer, and a promise to redeem them in bank-notes at a previously named rate of exchange.