· This was the trip to the Freemasons Hall on August 1st
Monday 4th September.
Monday 3rd October.
It is with great sadness I have to announce the death of long time member Bill Whitchelo. His funeral was held on August 3rd in Oxford.
Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.
Frances Simmons gave a talk on Medallic Art from a Female Perspective to a packed meeting of the Reading Coin Club, with 35 members attending. Frances began by remarking that all of us (even dealers) collect; and explained how she ended up as a collector as a result of attending fairs and going to coin shops with Howard. The talk revolved around the reasons why she chose the things she does, to collect. She divided the Female Perspective into three sections, Female, Feminine and Feminist, with her first slide illustrating all three, including a feminist poster with a quote from the artists, Guerrilla Girls - ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum’.
Women in medallic art are represented in many ways, often allegorically , other familiar representations are examples of the Madonna and Child, lots of very cute medals and there are dark allegories such as the representation of the French Republic as a harpy, all illustrated. Other representations can be quasi-pornographic such as a nymph. All of these have influenced the choices for Frances’ collection but she tends to keep the ones that are of women, by women and that have artistic merit. Also high on the list are medals by friends, the Art Nouveau period, many others and especially anything to do with the Suffragette movement.
Having explained the reasons behind her collection, Frances then talked about specific pieces from it. Pieces from the Art Nouveau included plasters by Charpentier and a medal by Jean Martel. Medals by friends included the Hazel White piece ‘And then she made the lassies oh!’ which has an imprint of the artist’s hand on one side and a female torso on the other and two pieces by Nicola Moss, one of which has a representation of Selene (the moon) on one side and an indentation on the other, together with a ‘Swift’, the name of the piece. In its lifetime a swift flies a distance equivalent to the distance around the moon. Other friends represented were Marian Fountain and Danuta Solowiej, other artists represented were Avril Vaughan and Lilian Hamilton, one of the ‘Slade girls’. Following this were a couple of more frivolous pieces, one of Caroline Clark Holland : a Hampstead lady who used to hold séances - by Florence Calcott nee Newman - a Slade School girl and the second of Mme. S. Gismondi.
On a more serious note we were treated to the St. Thomas School of Nursing prize medal, which Frances has in Bronze, Silver and Gold. A medal which used to be common was that of the benefactor Angelina Georgina Burdett Coutts for school attendance, now becoming hard to find. An unusual family piece of Wattinne Bossut with a family tree on the reverse came next. Two Russian medals, the first of a Mezzo-Soprano who appeared on the first Soviet Union broadcast in 1922, the second a famous actress and theatre manager.
Miscellaneous pieces including badges, dividend checks, women’s societies and even a Women’s Institute Centenary medal from the Royal Mint. At this point the talk turned to strong women, with many of the medallic examples. This trend continued with a French medal celebrating universal suffrage. The last part of the collection involves pieces that are not medallic, for example, spoons and badges and even a pen with ‘Votes for Women’ inscribed on them. Other famous pieces include the pennies similarily inscribed. Frances pointed out that since these were included in the British Museum’s ‘A History of the World in 100 objects’, many modern versions have been produced and the original ones are very hard to find.
The last item was Frances’s favourite piece in the whole collection a medal for the hunger striker Rachel Peace (AKA Jane Short) who was force fed. She eventually lost her reason and ended up in hospital for the rest of her life.
Our thanks go to Frances for an entertaining and interesting talk.
Only a few of us collect Masonic regalia but the opportunity to visit the centre of Freemasonry, the Freemasons’ Hall in London was too good to miss. The present Hall was built between 1927 and 1932 as a memorial to the 3,000 members killed during the First World War. It is of consistent architectural style and inside one of the UK’s finest Art Deco buildings. It has been the home of the United Grand Lodge of England since 1775. Across the world there are about 6,000,000 Freemasons.
The exhibitions and the library are open to the public and have some fascinating exhibits - a massive chair for the Grand Master, the Regent (later) George III sticks in the mind. Fifteen Club members and friends had also booked a guided tour of the Hall. But our guide had to deal with our prejudices and misconceptions before we started. The odds were against him with most people’s understanding of Freemasonry drawn from gossip and Dan Brown! He was convincing: women were not excluded from the movement, neither were Catholics, it was not self-serving but sought to get the best out its members in life and in the movement as they progressed to high office.
The guide fielded all our questions and gave us a knowledgeable and entertaining tour of the building. For the finale, when we reached the main Hall, we were seated whilst he played Haydn Wood’s 'The Horse Guards, Whitehall’ to show the scope of the organ (and indeed his own skill). After this we retired to the library, bookshop, museum, and then to the pub. Anybody with time in the Holborn area should have a look inside. Our thanks go to the organisers and to our exceptional guide.
Be reminded that subscriptions are now due. It would be most appreciated if members yet to renew their subscription would please do so at the next meeting. Please see our treasurer Peter. Membership cards are now available for paid-up members.
· London Coins Auction – 2-3rd September
· London Coin Fair/Argentum – Bloomsbury, London – 2nd September
· Birmingham Coin Fair - National Motorcycle museum – 10th September
· Spinks Auction, 69 Southampton Row, London – 26th September
· DNW, Mayfair, London – 13-14th September
· COINEX, Grosvenor Square, London – 22-23rd September
· Forty years ago Mr. Y Beresiner FRNS gave a talk on Banknotes.
· Thirty years ago Michael Broome gave a talk on Turkish coins.
· Twenty years ago Albert Byde gave a talk on “Some Berkshire Militaria, What and When”
· Ten years ago Peter Preston-Morley gave a talk on “Coins and Collectors – an Auctioneer’s view”