Next club meeting Monday 8th May 2017.
· Subject - Antique Silver and Hallmarks by Chris Moore
Monday 5th June 2017.
Monday 5th July 2017.
Meetings are held
At the April meeting 31 members heard a talk given by Kevin Clancy, Director of the Royal Mint Museum entitled ‘A history of the Sovereign – the chief coin of the World’. The talk was accompanied with many pictures of sovereigns, from the very first to those of the present day.
In the middle ages the status of a leader was very important. Consequently the rulers in Continental Europe began issuing large gold coins to demonstrate their lofty position. In the mid 14th century, not to be outdone, Edward III issued his own status coin, namely the Noble which was the first sovereign in all but name.
Beginning with pictures of various Nobles, which spanned many reigns up to Edward IV, we were then shown examples of the Angel and the truly magnificent large Sovereigns of the Tudor monarchs. These were certainly out to impress and to demonstrate the power of England. After the Tudors the Sovereign as such disappeared, becoming the Ryal, Laurel and finally the Unite of Charles the first. Throughout this period the speaker demonstrated that these coins were not used as circulating currency. They were totally impractical for ordinary people as they had a value many times the typical wages of the time. The fact that they are rarely found in hoards nor mentioned in literature & plays is proof that they were statement pieces rather than circulating currency.
With the restoration of Charles II the prominent gold coin was the Guinea of 21 shillings. By this time with inflation, a strong economy and increased wages the guinea was being used as a circulating currency piece. However, by the late eighteenth century the European wars caused bullion prices to rise significantly, resulting in an acute shortage of circulating gold coins, due to hoarding & speculation. This situation was only resolved with the defeat of Napoleon and the issue in 1817 of the sovereign as we know it today.
It was designed by B Pistrucci and featured the famous St George & the Dragon design still used today. The obverse shows a middle aged King in the style of a Roman emperor despite the King actually being decrepit from old age and madness. Apart from the early shield reverse sovereigns of George IV, William IV and Victoria the later ones reverted to the St George & Dragon reverse, which continued up to the First World War. After the war while sovereigns were issued in some Empire countries none were issued in England, apart from a few patterns & commemoratives. That is until in more recent times where they are once more issued with the St George reverse as collector and investment pieces.
Throughout the talk Kevin gave many anecdotes related to the sovereign. He gave figures of the numbers minted, how in the early Tudor years some were debased, typical wages of the time in comparison to the value of the sovereign and Ricardo’s ingot proposed to replace the sovereign. He also mentioned the failed return to the gold standard after the First World War and that the depiction of St George is far older than Pistrucci’s rendition.
Overall a very interesting talk and we express our thanks to the speaker.
The Summer social this year will be a trip to The Freemasons’ Hall museum in London on August 1st. If intending to come please sign the form that will be available at next few meetings. We are limited to about 15 so first come first served.
· In 2007 we had another visit from Kevin Clancy who spoke on A Currency without a Coinage.
· In 1997 Tim Hayward spoke on "Aspects of German coinage"
· In 1987 Phil Wainwright gave a talk on "Celtic Coinage"
· In 1977 Harold Good spoke on "Seventeenth Century Token Coinage of Southampton"