September 2004

Next club meeting Monday 6th September 2004.

Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church. Entrance off Abbey Square.

Meeting commences at 7.00pm.

July Meeting.

For the first talk of the new club year we were privileged to have Michael Naxton as the guest speaker. For many years Michael was the director of Sotheby's coin and medal department. Indeed by way of an opener Michael spoke with a touch of sadness about the demise of the coin departments of the principal London auction houses; and the blossoming of new firms such as DNW and Morden & Eden, who are enjoying good times.

Having said a few words regarding potential topics he thought about for his talk Michael launched into his chosen topic - the Jubilee collection of military medals. Right from the beginning it became very clear that this talk was going to be one of the most fascinating talks given to the club. Michael told the story that one day he was invited to a well known trading company to look at a trunk that had been acquired with a business. When opened the contents were revealed as over 600 carefully wrapped early military medals, most of which were considered rare. However, as the contents were revealed the mystery deepened because there was absolutely no indication as to the identity of who put the collection together. Apart from each medal being wrapped in Carlton Club headed paper there were no clues whatever. However, he must have been of some standing since the Carlton club was for the well healed. As to when the collection was put together this is also supposition, but based on the latest medals, a knowledge of issue dates and collecting habits etc. Michael hazarded a guess at the mid 1880's - hence the title of the Jubilee collection reflecting Queen Victoria's celebrations of 1887.

Michael said he still gets a buzz when interesting items come on to the market, particularly when new to the market. Thus when he first saw this collection the buzzer must have been at full power. In addition to over 60 Waterloo medals there were about 50 Military General Service medals and 50 Naval General Service medals. When one considers that these early medals are quite rare, now keenly sought after and command a value around 1000 each (plus or minus a couple of hundred depending upon regiment, rank etc) one can well understand Michael's elation.

For the greater part of his talk Michael spoke about:

Examples of the medals and a mysterious picture!This talk was loaded with information and anecdotes. For example, the first medal awarded to a women nurse was in 1879. Amongst the collection was a China medal (1842) awarded to Florence Gowlin. Michael was elated with a fantastic new discovery, a medal to a lady well before the accepted first date of 1879 - until his wife pointed out that in the 19th Century Florence was an Irish unisex name ! ! .

Finally the speaker showed a picture of a smartly dressed Gentleman that was found in the trunk. Was this the man that formed the collection, who remains a complete enigma? Overall, a brilliant talk.

Club Subscriptions.

From the AGM it was agreed to poll members regarding the committee's recommendation to raise the annual subscription by 1. You may remember this was challenged when the club deposit funds are so healthy.

The results votes are as follows:

>Motion carried. New annual subscription rate =14 + 2 (optional) for coffee.

However, from the poll there was a clear message that the membership wish to see part of the deposit fund used in some beneficial way and not merely sit there growing/ stagnating. The committee will consider this point and come back to members

So far over half the members have renewed their subscriptions. For the remainder please see David at the next meeting or send same to the club secretary.

Summer Social - Visit to Royal Mint

On Friday 20th August, 14 members and 2 guests made the journey to the Royal Mint at Llantrisant, where we arrived in the early afternoon, having lunched at a near by pub.

After signing in and being split into 2 groups we commenced the tour.

First stop was the engraving room where we saw the two principal ways that dies are engraved, the modern commuter aided system and the traditional hand engraving.

Then it was down to the die cutting area were we saw the modern way of digitising the plaster models into computer information that can be fed to the NC die cutting machines. On many designs the lettering is now added in the computer model rather then on the model itself. Also the computer generated image can be reviewed by either the engraver or artist and checked/ modified before commencing the cutting of the die. Interestingly, the guide explained that better results are achieved with a stylus tracing over the model rather than using a non-contact laser. We also saw the old mechanical reducing machine, which cuts the die directly from the model. This method requires a hard metal electrotype to be produced for the stylus to trace over. Surprisingly this system produces dies equally as good, if not better, than the modern computer system. However, what's on the model is what you get and unlike the computer system there is no scope for change once the die cutting process starts. To demonstrate the capability of the mechanical system we were shown two detailed dies, one of the Queens head and another of the Jubilee crown. Amazingly they were both only 3 or 4 millimetres in diameter, an eye glass being required to see the detail.

The next point of call was the proof room where we saw all sorts of proofs being struck. It was particularly interesting to see the processes employed to make silver coins with part of the design in gold. A thin layer of gold of the required shape is sprayed onto the coin. The die is then correctly indexed using an optical system so that when struck, the gold area is the exact shape.

Then it was off the see the melting shop where the various alloys are made and the metal rolled and heat treated in preparation for stamping the blanks - the speed at which the blanks are produced is amazingly fast. We then moved into the coining area, the actual mint, where again the speed of production was astounding - so was the degree of quality control. We also saw how the coins are weighed, bagged and stored. The storage area is unbelievable and I don't think any of us had ever seen so much money. The area is 5 or 6 lanes, some 75 metres long and 15 metres high, absolutely stuffed with coins. When one bag of 1 coins, approximately 0.7 metres cube, contains 125,000 and weighs 1.2 metric tons, and they are all around, it all adds up to one very very large sum.

Our final port of call was the Mint museum where we were shown some of the mint's latest acquisitions, including a cabinet reputed to have been used by Isaac Newton and many artefacts related to Edward 8th. We also saw some real rarities including the coins of Edward 8th, several Una & Lion 5 pieces, the renowned 1933 1d and the original dies of the Waterloo medal.

After tea & biscuits, a congratulation from Graham Dyer in his capacity as president of BANS on the longevity of our society and a vote of thanks from us to the Mint staff, we departed very happy bunnies.

This was a very good tour thoroughly enjoyed by all who participated. The Mint Staff did us really proud and provided excellent commentaries to the areas visit. They are justifiably proud of the quality of the coins they produce for so many countries around the world.


It is sad to report the untimely death of Kerry Underwood who died in June. Kerry had been ill for quite a few months and while he had been unable to get to club meetings in recent times he kept in touch with happenings at the club through the newsletter. Our condolences go to his family at these sad times.

Future Events.

7th September Croydon Coin Auctions

Sunday 12th September. Coin Fair, Meriden

18th September Davidson Monk Coin Fair, Jury's Hotel, Great Russell St., London