March 20th 2018                                                                   

Next club meeting Monday 9th April 2018.

·        Aspects of Convict Tokens by Tim Millet

Monday 30th April 2018.

·        A History of the Postal Order by Gary Oddy

Monday 4th June 2018.

  • Annual General Meeting and Display Competition


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



  • It is coming up to the time for the AGM and that means the election of a new committee. Please think about joining the committee because it is unfair to expect the same old(!) faces to keep doing everything every year.


March Meeting

The March meeting was given over to the annual Auction. There were 200 lots. The auction raised £2711.00 from this the club has benefited by £ 271.10 in commission. Some highlights from the sale:

·          Lot 55                        -           1683 4th bust shilling   £200.00

·          Lot 67                        -           1827 penny                 £175.00

·          Lot 124          -           1877 half crown          £125.00

·          Lot 182          -           1904 penny                 £80.00

·          Lot 73                        -           1838 sixpence             £80.00

Thank you to all the members (especially Mick and Gavin) who helped to run the auction so smoothly and successfully. Remittance cheques are being posted to the vendors.


Future Events.

  • Bonhams sale, Knightsbridge  – 21st March
  • Spink Auctions, Southampton Row  – 27-28th March
  • Midland Coin Fair - National Motorcycle museum – 8th April

Past Events

  • Ten years ago David Powell spoke on The Evolution of the English Coinage up to the End of the Civil War
  • Twenty years ago, Robert Thompson talked on '17th Century Tokens of Berkshire'.
  • This evening 30 years ago was a Coin Fair.
  • This evening 40 years ago was a Member’s Evening and Coin Fair.


And thanks to Mick for a Numismatic Interlude


             P1030098.JPG               P1030097.JPG


The history of the Mediterranean region in the BC era is rife with conflicts involving emerging empires, or more often the expanding city states. For historians the complexity of internal strife and political ambitions, the outcomes of various battles, broken alliances and the chequered lives of the principal players makes understanding far from easy. This also adds difficulty for numismatists, since the conquering side often adopted designs and elements from those conquered into their new coins, and visa versa. Hence recognising an element does not necessarily mean the coin in question originates from that region, and the coin above is one such example.


The coin illustrated is in fact an electrotype copy, albeit a very good one of some age. The obverse has a portrait of a lady dressed in a veil, very similar in style to that on the coins of the queens of the Egyptian Ptolomies. However the reverse bears no relation to Egypt since the 4 horse chariot (quadriga) driven by Nike was first created on Greek coins & later adopted by the Romans. The chariot depicted here is more of  Roman style. Luckily the words above & below the chariot tell all.  The word BAΣIΛIΣΣAΣ means ‘Queen’ and below is her name  ΦIΛIΣTIΔOΣ (Philistis). She is almost anonymous in history and only known from her coins and an inscription on one monument. But that is enough to identify her as the queen of Hieron II, the tyrant who ruled Syracuse 270-216 BC. So despite the Egyptian and Roman styles this coin comes from Sicily, close to modern Italy but in the past far removed. If real, this coin would be a 16 litrae, equating to a tetradrachm.


The reason for adopting the designs of others on their coins is mainly twofold. Firstly, a ruler looking like a previous successful leader is elevating his own status. You only have to see how many rulers adopted a portrait closely resembling that of Alexander the Great, including Hieron II. Secondly, to cement alliances.


My interpretation of this coin is that in this age of endless war it is all about the importance of alliances. Heiron established close relations with Egypt and the adoption of a portrait for Philistis similar to queen Arsinoe of Egypt supports this view. The Arsinoe portrait itself is based upon sculptures representing the goddess of agriculture & harvest, Demeter.

Hieron was a soldier who seized power in a coup, but then lost in battle to the Romans. Typical of the time he switched allegiances and negotiated a treaty. He supported the Romans in their various conquests for the rest of his life. The adoption of the four horse chariot is homage to the Romans. 


There are several varieties of coins for Hieron II himself but also a smaller one depicting his son Gelon who co-ruled in the later years. This suggests a statement of lineage for the next ruler, which sadly was not the case as he predeceased his father. His brother ruled briefly before being assassinated while his daughters and the rest of the family were killed by the mob. In the ensuing chaos the Romans sacked Syracuse which never regained its former glory.

                                                                                                                                       MM 2018

Club Secretary.