Next club meeting Monday 6th February 2017.

·         Subject - Astley & the Circus (Tokens and Passes) By David Young.

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



·         Please bring your Auction lots for March along to the next meeting and give them to Ian, together with a list of the items, any reserves and – most importantly – some form of identification and an e-mail address if you’ve got one, so Ian knows who the lots belong to. Close of play at the February meeting is the deadline for entering lots into the auction, they must be handed to Ian by then.

·         Following comments about the auction from last year, the committee has made some changes. There will only be 200 lots. Poor specimen, junk lots and lots with unrealistic reserves will be reviewed by committee to decide if there is a realistic chance of their sale so be aware such lots may not make it into the auction. Reserves will be shown. Lots will not be graded – it is up to the buyer to determine the grade. It is buyer beware when bidding for the auction lots and no responsibility is accepted by the club or auctioneer.Viewing will start at18-45pm.


January Meeting

January’s meeting was given over to Short Talks from Members. There were five talks.


Alistair gave the second part of his talk on Building Society Ephemera. Alistair began the talk by pointing out that there are still one or two Independent Building Societies left, with a picture of a rather nice Art Deco building that houses the (still Independent) Earl Shilton building Society. Since last year Alistair has added several metal safe boxes which were used as ‘aids to thrift’ – money could be put in them but only the Building Society had the key to open them. In addition he had a Year book and some interesting adverts. Alistair has written to all 44 remaining Building Societies with a view to looking at any archival material they might have but with very little luck. Further back Alistair now has a collection of 19th C certificates and indentures, on vellum, which can still be had very cheaply.

Alistair has estimated that there have been over 5000 Building Societies, based on some research he did into the popular Starr-Bowkett model for Building Societies. This model worked by means of subscription and when sufficient subscriptions had been collected, one lucky member (selected by ballot) got their loan. The scheme was outlawed in the late 1890s in Britain but remained popular in Australia. A variation of this was the Richmond model, which provided for the lucky people who won the ballot actually having to paying more. A lot of building Societies were run out of pubs, though Temperance Societies were also involved.


Next Alistair showed examples of  Pass Books by means of which it is possible to trace the takeovers so prevalent in the business and he discussed briefly some of his findings.

For his final slide Alistair gave us an example of  possibly the longest name for a Financial institution – ‘The Third Bankside Coffee Palace Benefit Building Society’ as mentioned on a wonderful vellum Mortgage document.


Neil talked on his working life back in the 1970s. It used to be the case that in accountancy, if you fancied a new job, you’d go to what passed for the ‘HR’ department and ask them if they knew of any of their clients who were recruiting. Hence Neil found himself working for John Pinches medallists, just after they had been taken over by The Franklin Mint. The factory was just off Clapham High Rd. The business started in London in the mid nineteenth C, though the original Pinches came from Birmingham. Pinches did everything, sports medals, cup, military items, trophies for the competitions at Bisley, including one very large triumphal coach in solid silver. The main office in London had a design department, Janvier reducing machines, a die shop, a large enamelling shop a stamping shop and a polishing shop. A lot of the equipment was very old, some dating back to the First World War and some from the South Bend Lathe Company after the Second World War. Pinches specialised in gold medals for learned societies as commissions from Garrads and had their own collection of dies for the jobs.

All of this was brought to mind by a reminder that Neil had left a tin box on deposit with Lloyds Bank and now they wanted to know what he planned to do with it. Inside the box were pieces that Neil had acquired when Pinches were being modernised by The Franklin Mint, some going back over a hundred years.


Tony started collecting in 1944 and kept his early coins in a ‘safe’ similar to the ones Alistair had been talking about. Unfortunately, when he went to get the coins out, the Post Office would not give him back the original coins! However he gave us a talk on the siege pieces of the Civil War. Making a collection of such pieces these days would be a very expensive undertaking but fortunately, when Tony started collecting them they were far more reasonable. They were issued between 1642 and 1649.

There was a history of minting coins in Wales because of the silver produced as a by-product of the Lead mines and a mint was set up in Aberystwyth. At the start of the Civil War the King was able to use the mint at Aberystwyth, which later moved to Shrewsbury, then Oxford and so on, while Parliament had the London Mint.

 Towards the end of the Civil War the Royalist towns were besieged and in order to pay the troops it was necessary to strike coins in the town. In all, three towns struck their own, Carlisle which was besieged three times issued coins of normal weights and types, Scarborough issued cut plate of twenty denominations by weight and Newark, which survived three sieges and produced halfcrown, shilling, ninepence and sixpence all diamond shape.

In 1648 we had a period known as the second Civil War. Charles I had been captured but there continued to be uprisings. Most were crushed very quickly but an uprising in Kent by Sir George Lyall ended in Colchester. Rumours of coins from this time are now considered unfounded. The only coins known for sure from this period were from Pontefract. They originally had a Carolus legend on them, which was altered to Carolus II after Charles I was beheaded.

Tony had brought along examples of several, including a shilling from Carlisle. This piece was originally intended for auction by Spinks but was declared a dud and duly bought by Tony. Upon checking with the BM he found he had a genuine coin! His Scarborough sixpence came as a gift from an American friend.


Gavin talked on ‘Nothing Much Happens in Girtford”, detailing events that took place there in the 19th C. He started out by putting it on the map. It is in Bedfordshire, in the Parish of Sandy, close to the modern A1 and on the river Ivel. A 1904 guide book reveals it has a Church Mission group, a Primitive Methodist Chapel a Post Office and the Swan Beer House. It also has a very nice late 18C bridge over the Ivel “wide enough for two horse drawn carriages to pass within muzzle touching”. In fact the bridge is nearer Beeston. Nowadays it has a Co-Op and a Holiday Inn.


Of slightly more interest is that Girtford had one of the shortest lived ever railway stations, opened in 1938 and closed in 1940. It was on the Oxford to Cambridge line which closed in its entirety in 1967. Gavin was once responsible for part of the line. There are even plans for a new varsity line to be built, but Gavin doubts it can be done because so much of the line has been sold off.


Perhaps the final thing to mention is that there were three suicides in Girtford between 1864 and 1869.


Gavin’s interest in fascinating Girtford though stems from existence of a 1797 penny and a Northampton Penny token bearing the name of Girtford and W. Knights countermarks on them. He came across the first one some ten years ago but was unable to work on it until October last year when he came across the second one on Ebay. His preliminary research revealed there were several possibilities for the identity of W Knights. The first was in the newspaper report about one of the suicides where a surgeon Walter Knight was involved. A surgeon, however, is unlikely to be issuing tokens such as this. The second possibility was from 1869 where a W. Knights was awarded first prize for growing six prize apples! Much more likely was the 1854 entry in the directory for a W. Knights blacksmith. One of his claims to fame was that he was assaulted by his wife - an offence which led to her being bound over. And who said very little happened in Girtford!


Graham talked on “Greek Coins – Acquired in 2016”. This turned out to be a trip around Greece, as Graham had purchased coins from all over Greece in the last year. The earliest coins made by the Lydians and Ionians were from about 615BC. The material has always been considered to be natural electrum, diluted with additional silver. An alternate theory has it that gold was refined from the electrum, leaving the silver rich material behind. Coins were produced down to .15gm being 1/96 Stater. This system continued till Croesus introduced a new system based on separate gold and silver coinage. Graham’s first coin was a contemporary ½ Stater of Lydia silver copy.

Next was a 6th C 1/12 Stater from Miletos a great seaport and one of the first Greek states to adopt coinage. The growth of smaller denominations was brought about by business in smaller Ionian Greek cities. Following this was a silver Hemidrachm of Cherronesos from Thrace then a silver tetradrachm from Hekatomnos the Satraps of Caria. From South Western Asia Minor we had a familiar silver tetradrachm featuring Athena and owl, followed by Central and Southern Asia Minor and Cyprus bringing us to the Macedonian Empire, represented by a tetradrachm of Alexander the Great. Unusually, this coin had Herakles a famous Hero   not a God – represented on it. Moving on we come to Sicily and Syracuse, home of Archimedes and described as ‘the greatest Greek city and most beautiful of them all by Cicero. Here we had an unusual denomination, a silver decalitra. Continuing our trip around Greece we come to Central Greece, represented by a silver diabol from Euboia. Finally we came to North Western Asia Minor and a tetradrachm issued by Lucius Antoninus and hence the Greek World begins to give way to the Roman.           


The member's vote was for Gavin to receive the Marc Myhill memorial shield. A well deserved and popular win.









It is with great sadness that we report the loss of yet another club member in 2016, Tony Merson, who died on Christmas Eve. He will be sadly missed. The funeral is at 1-30pm on Friday, February 3rd at Aldershot Crematorium. Please let Tony know if you are attending the wake which will be after the funeral in the Barley Room of the Maltings in Farnham.


Answers to Gavin’s Quiz

1.      How much does a 1797 penny weigh? 1 ounce.

2.      Who issued the last English coins at Calais? Henry VI.

3.      Coins with the legend QUOCUNQUE JECERIS STABIT come from where? Isle of Man.

4.      What country issued a 1/48 shilling? Jersey (1877)

5.      What is “breeches money”? Coins of the Commonwealth under Cromwell.

6.      When was the British Florin introduced? 1849.

7.      Young head farthings were issued in 1895 – true or false? True.

8.      What is a bodle? Scottish copper twopence.

9.      Which mint is represented by D on US coins? Denver.

10.  Black finish farthings were introduced in 1896 – true or false? False – 1897.

11.  Who designed the portrait on the first issue of George IV crowns? Benedetto Pistrucci.

12.  Silver coins of Queen Victoria with a value of 1½d were used where? Ceylon.

13.  When were the first milled gold sovereigns issued? 1817.

14.  When was a 50 pence piece commemorating the Victoria Cross issued? 2006.

15.  When did the mintmark H first appear on British coins? 1874.

16.  What was the last date displaying the French arms and title on British coins? 1800.

17.  Which British coin depicted Macneill’s Egyptian Arch? Northern Island £1 2006.

18.  When were round silver farthings introduced? 1279.

19.  Scottish shillings were issued dated 1938 – true or false? True.

20.  When were copper regal farthings introduced? 1672.


Future Events.

Past Events

·         In January 1977 members heard a talk by Nicholas Lowick of the BM on "Islamic Bronze Coinage, Mints and Mining".

·         Ten years later George Berry talked on "17th Century Tokens of Buckinghamshire".

·         In 1997 the January meeting was by Maurice Bull entitled "Halfcrowns of the Four Georges"

·         Since then the January meeting has been given over to short talks from members.

Club Secretary.