Next club meeting - Monday 6th December 2004.
Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.
The November meeting was devoted to a members evening. The main feature was a bourse (coin fair). Several members bought along coins and numismatic material, thus providing a wide range of material on offer. The committee would like your feedback to assess whether or not this event should be repeated in the future.
There was a good response to the request for members to bring along one or two items that for some reason were considered special (e.g. recent acquisition, a long sought after piece, an unusual find, an oddity etc.). Some ten items were displayed ranging from tokens, a gold coin of William & Mary, a hidden coin found in the packaging of another coin, a hammered piece and a crown with a mispunched letter to name but a few. Maurice won the `guess the number of coins in the jar' competition, his guess being very close to the actual 500.
Finally there was the quiz - a mixture of questions devised by M Broome many years ago and some from yours truly. As to be expected with so many knowledgeable members some answers were modified during the marking session. There were 59 marks on offer. The winner was John with a very good score of 39. Well done John.
The winners of the competitions both received a bottle of wine.
Be advised the club has purchased Tim Millet's book on convict tokens.
The subject for the January meeting is short talks by members, competing for the Mark Myhill memorial trophy. As usual we are short of entries. Members willing to give a talk should please contact David or Frank, either by phone or at the December meeting so that the committee can schedule the agenda for the evening. The talk can be on any numismatic related topic and need only last for 10 - 15 minutes.
The club auction is due to take place at the beginning of February. This may seem a long way off but you will need to start thinking about pieces you wish to include in the sale. So please bring along your coins, medals, tokens, banknotes and any other numismatic material to either the December or January meeting and hand them to any committee member.
If we all put in just a few lots we can make this an enjoyable and successful evening.
In November 1973 the club auction took place - no details available.
Ten years later members heard a talk by Will Smith on the Borough Accounts of Medieval Reading.
10 years ago the speaker cancelled and Michael Broome hastily put together a quiz. having seen several of the quizzes devised by Michael all those years ago, no doubt there was much head scratching. Where he found so much obscure information is anybodies guess.
Continuing the theme of republishing articles and talks presented in the early years of the club here is one from the late Patrick Finn on Irish money from 6th January 1970.
The Irish rebelled against their English masters in 1641, and this talk will trace the course of this rebellion and the coins which were struck as a result of it during 1642-49. Because of the complex political situation which existed in Ireland at the time the coins have posed numismatists considerable problems. It is often difficult to be precise about their dating or even to be exact as to which factions issued some of the coins. Like all coins struck under a siege they are generally of a battered and poorly struck appearance but as historical evidence they are an exciting commentary on the stirring events of the insurrection. Some of the coins themselves have titles such as Rebel Money, Blacksmith's Money and Dublin Money. Judging by the number available to collectors today the issue known as Ormond money was of much wider circulation than the rest. The Ormond issue can be divided into crowns, half-crowns, shillings, sixpences, groats, threepences and half-groats and they were all struck on approximately regular flans, more or less circular and all of the same general design. There is, however, a considerable variety in design and lettering.
It is important to understand the historical background to the revolution of 1641 to see how these coins -came to be issued. The root cause can be found in the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland and the English colonization of Ulster. To break the power of the Irish the English instituted the Plantation system which in effect took the land from the native Irish Catholics and gave it to Protestant immigrants. The idea was to build up a strong Protestant Irish community to keep the peace in Ireland. The Plantation system gradually took shape after 1609. The settlers from England and Scotland brought with them their own traditions and created a whole new society which rejected the Irish way of life. This new Society of colonists was riddled with embittered native Irish Catholics just waiting for the chance to strike back, and this opportunity came during the troubled reign of Charles I. By 1641 the Plantation system had really began to bite but there existed by this time the Irish native Catholics and also the English Catholic settlers, a large influential group which owned one third of the land in Ireland - loyal to King Charles but mistrusted by the English Parliament - both groups wanting religious freedom and the Irish Catholics also wanted independence from England. On the other side there were the two main non-Catholic elements, the Royalists of the established Protestant Church under the Earl of Ormond and the non-conformists who veered towards the Parliamentary side. In October 1641 the Irish Catholics decided the time for revolt had come and preparations were made to sieze Dublin Castle. This attempt failed but throughout Ireland the spirit of rebellion caught the people and the natives rose against the colonists. The Irish Catholics soon had control of almost the whole of Ulster and they were joined by the English Catholics under the combined name of the Confederated Catholics. In June 1642 they met at Kilkenny to issue orders for the governing of Ireland. It was here that the first coins of the rebellion were issued called the Kilkenny money. The halfpenny was struck in so-called red copper and it looked very similar to the English Royal farthings of Charles I although it was much heavier and not so well struck. There are also many contemporary forgeries. The farthing was identical but smaller.
The issue known as Inchiquin money was struck from silver bullion and plate. It has often been suggested that coins of this issue were struck by the order of Lord Inchiquin who was vice president of Munster at the time. However, documentary evidence has now been discovered which demonstrates that they were not coins of the realm but merely pieces of gold or silver stamped with a certified weight and then they could be used for buying or selling by virtue of their gold or silver weight value. As far as can be discovered they really had very little to do with Lord Inchiquin but the pieces have always been known as Inchiquin money. It is interesting to note that the Inchiquin issues include the only gold coins struck, in Ireland, namely the pistoles and double pistoles of the same type as the first issue. All the three silver issues can be dated at 1642 but the gold coins were not issued until 1646. The first issue merely consisted of sheets of metal with the corresponding weight stamped on both sides. The second issue can be differentiated from the first in that on one side there is still the weight of the piece but on the other there are annulets which represent the value (e.g. 6 annulets for the sixpence). The coins of the third issue bear more resemblance to the later Ormond money and they have the value on both sides in Roman numerals. They are very rare pieces.
The Ormond money previously mentioned is much more prolific than any other of the rebellion pieces. There are an enormous wealth of varieties. For instance nearly every Ormond crown one sees is slightly different in some way. This issue has been traditionally called Ormond money because it has been thought to have been struck on behalf of Charles I by the Viceroy, James, Marquess of Ormond, who had been in charge of the King's armies since the start of the rebellion. It has been proved that the coins were issued in 1643 and it is really a technical point as to whether Ormond would have signed the document arranging for them to be struck. Certainly the Ormond pieces were circulated in much greater quantity than any other issues of the rebellion. The smaller denominations of Ormond money can be seen fairly frequently such as the small threepenny and fourpenny pieces which tend to turn up in junk shops, dealers trays or amongst large lots of hammered coins offered for sale. Here again there are quite a lot of different varieties.
Now we come to what is called the Rebel Money. They always appear very battered and were crudely struck. It has been thought that they were struck by the Confederated Catholics in imitation of Ormond money about 1643, although they may have been issued by the Dublin Castle officials when Dublin Castle was under Colonel Michael Jones who was appointed deputy Governor of the Castle by the English Parliament. In which case the date of issue would change to 1648. The coins are distinguished by the appearance of the cross potent symbol on them. There is a certain similarity between the coins and the Inchiquin and Ormond issues. Both the crown and halfcrowns of the Rebel issue are extremely rare.
The four Munster towns of Cork, Youghal, Kinsale and Bandon held out from the start of the rebellion against the armies of the Confederated Catholics, who had their headquarters in Kilkenny. Each of these towns struck coins of its own while garrisoned by Parliamentary troops, They are known as Town Pieces and each has a letter on it to show when it was minted (e.g. Y for Youghal). They were made of red copper and are always very battered. They are also quite rare, but they have been known to turn up in piles of coin weights.
The Cork shilling of 1647 is usually thought of as a Town Piece but they could well have been issued under the order of Lord Inchiquin and in a way could be called Inchiquin money. There is also a sixpenny piece.
At the time of the rebellion a lot of English money circulated in Ireland and some foreign money and shillings of Elizabeth I were counter stamped 'Cork'. It is difficult to decide who struck them or why or whether they were officially struck or not. It is possible that the garrison at Cork may have run out of Town Pieces and made up the deficit by counterstamping "Cork" on any odd bits of silver they could find. Some of the counter stamps were struck at a later date and such forgeries were made to deceive the collector.
The pieces known as Blacksmith's Money were very crudely struck being based on the English Tower half-crowns of Charles II. It is thought that this coinage was struck by the Royalists at Kilkenny in 1649 although they had been previously attributed to the Confederated Catholics of the same town because of the cross potent initial mark which appears on the coins. It is difficult to prove really which side actually issued the coins.
The final issue of what can be called siege coins is known as the Dublin Money authorised by the Royalists under Ormond in 1649 and struck at Dublin Castle. There is a resemblance between these coins and the Ormond issue or the third issue of Inchiquin. There are a number of varieties and these pieces are also very rare.
It was shortly after the issue of the Dublin Money in 1649 that events in Ireland took a decisive turn. After ridding themselves of Charles the English Parliament gave their fullest attention to the rebellious Irish. This time the rebellion was to be totally and finally crushed and 0liver Cromwell was sent out with 12,000 men to do the job. This he did with ruthless and cruel efficiency taking his full revenge on the Irish Catholics he so detested.
This completes the Irish rebellion and the coins issued during the period and one can see from these brief notes how difficult it is to date many of the pieces and in fact some of the coins have acquired names over the years which have nothing to do with the coins themselves particularly the Inchiquin money, the Ormond money and the Rebel money. But this is not surprising when one considers the complex political scenario at the time in Ireland where so many groups were involved.