January 29th  2019.   

Next club meeting Monday 4th February 2019.

·        Subject - Frank Bowcher- the man behind the medals By Phillip Attwood.

Monday 4th March 2019

·        Club Auction - for members only

Monday 1st April 2019.

·         Edward Stanley Robinson - Knighted for Services to Numismatics By  Peter Preston-Morley


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



We will be meeting in the main church area on the ground floor of the church for the next two meetings as the church has need of the basement area. Unfortunately we are not able to provide teas or coffees. The basement area is to be considered ‘out of bounds’.  Please bear in mind that this is the main area for religious activities and treat it accordingly.


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.

·         There will be a maximum of 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.


BANS Spring Meeting

This year’s conference will take place in the Isla of Man, from 7th to 9th April. Some talks specific to the Isle of Man are included. The cost, including en-suite accommodation, all meals – and the lectures is £265 for a single and £390 for a double. Please ask John if you require details.


January Meeting

At January’s meeting, four members volunteered to give short talks.





Neil’s talk was on medals relating to Sir Francis Drake, the sixteenth century explorer and some would say pirate. One inspiration for the talk was that Neil had fund a pamphlet issued at the time that a statue of Drake was put up on the Hoe in Plymouth commemorating the three hundredth anniversary of Drake’s voyage around the World. The idea for the statue came about in 1880, the actual three hundredth anniversary, but it was February 1884 before it was completed. Neil had an example of a base metal medal, issued at the time. The unveiling ceremony was a big occasion, with lots of dignitaries attending and a Military Brass Band. Some spectators were crushed trying to get into the VIP area. Afterwards, 400 of the VIPs retired to the Guildhall for lunch, followed by an evening concert including a 250 strong children’s choir. Part of the reason for this largesse was that Plymouth had been upstaged by Tavistock, who had already built their own monument and issued commemorative medals in 1883.


Drake was born in Tavistock, the son of a weaver. One of twelve, he was shipped off to sea as an apprentice, where he learned about ships and navigation. The Tavistock medal, in base medal has a picture of the Tavistock statue and was presented by Hastings, ninth Duke of Bedford. There were also medals issued for the four hundredth anniversary, which have a common reverse and four different obverses to the ‘value’ of 50 Drake Nobles. Neil also knew of a copper medallion and had brought along a miniature statuette of Drake nonchalantly holding a World globe in his hand. Drake’s statue was the first to be erected on the Hoe but there are now four or five others, in a row, commemorating events such as the Boer war.


Neil had also brought along four postcards, including one which had a view of St. Nicholas island, now renamed Drake’s Island. He also had a copy of Drake’s book detailing his voyage around the World and including an account of the politics of the time, which had amazing similarities to the current goings on in Parliament! Some of it was to do with Spanish claims to the silver in South America, including a Spanish plot that led to the death of many English sailors. One of the few to escape was Drake and the event coloured his future interactions with the Spanish. On his trips he would attack Spanish settlements and on sailing back through the East Indies would arrive back in England with incredibly valuable cargoes, giving returns of up to 4000% to investors, including the Queen.


Drake ended up building a house for himself, Buckland Abbey, where he lived as a very rich man.




Stuart gave a talk on the mints at Bedwyn and Marlborough. He began with some background to the history, including the epic battles between Alfred and the raiding Vikings, which led to the battle of Edington in 878, which Alfred won. He also laid out the geography of the area. Bedwyn and Chisbury fort, one of the Burhs or fortifications set up by Alfred to act as central areas for organising the people are about 30 miles from Reading. There is now a farm at Chisbury fort, ran by two ladies, ironically from Eastern Europe. There is also a small chapel, which is currently used as a barn. Stuart showed images of the chapel/barn as it is today, still prominently visible from the train.


Bedwyn was and is very near the Savernake forest, which meant is has had building restrictions placed on it, so it is still the same size now as back in the Viking times. It is believed that Henry VIII went hunting in the forest and may have met Anne Boleyn there as it is close to Wolfe Hall. The forest separates Bedwyn from Marlborough.


Coins were first minted in Bedwyn for Edward the Confessor by a single moneyer Cilda, who later went to Marlborough when the mint transferred there in the reign of William I, where he continued working till 1087. The first coin Stuart showed was from the Marlborough Mint and actually forms part of the Swedish National collection of coins. It was found amongst a collection of 250 coins, discovered in the 19th Century in Sweden. It is believed that the coins belonged to mercenaries and their passage through England can be inferred from the specimens present. He showed us one of his own halfpenny coins from Edward the Confessor and then a succession of different types. He pointed out that the moneyer would have had to go to London for a new die for each type, incurring considerable expense to himself. The use of coinage was proscribed in these times, with coins only allowed to be used within 20 miles of where they were made, all part of the state keeping control. The last type minted at Bedwyn was the profile cross. Only a few dozen of coins from Bedwyn and Marlborough mint survive, a small number in the BM.



Mick’s talk was entitled ‘The Phantom Token’. He began with an image of an East India Company token. However the legend read ‘Island of Sultana’ a non-existent country! How to explain? Mick began by explaining the background, which was to do with the fight for trading rights in the Far East, between Spain, France, the Dutch and England, in the main because of the huge profits to be made. He pointed out that at first there was no company, just consortiums of interested businesses, involving spices, silks and tea etc. . The East India Company became unified and was able to start monopolising trade, at first in India but then moving further East. Eventually the company became so strong it ruled the countries it traded in. The distances from the headquarters of the Company in London to the outposts in the Far East meant that the outposts became essentially self governing, it would take too long (voyages to India could take two years) to refer decisions back to London. Large payments tended to be completed by barter, English goods being traded for those from the Far East. Where specie was required it would mainly be the 8 Reales. The demand for bullion rocketed as a result of this trade and in part, this explains why there are so few coins of George III from 1760 to 1816. For small transactions local currency was used, if there was any, or EIC styled local currency and later on the distinctive EIC currency. This latter currency was made in the UK and would have the EIC Bale mark on one side and a native design on the other side. One coin of particular note was the 1/48 Rupee, the first to bear the company arms. From the beginning of the 19th century the standard issue of coinage had the arms on one side with the legend East India Company and the native design on the other.


Despite controlling India, the company did not have total control of the East Indies. The Dutch were very active in Sumatra and there were lots of merchants operating out of Singapore. They issued their own coinage, very similar to the standard EIC coinage as a challenge to the company. The similarity to the EIC issue meant that these coins could be more easily accepted. This explains what Mick’s coin is.



Michael’s talk was entitled ‘In Remembrance of The Great War’. He began by showing a gold medal presented for being the first to shoot down the L15 Zeppelin. Michael explained that the role of Zeppelins in the Great War is not mentioned much because people regard it as a War fought in Europe. But there was a War in England too, a Home Front. Michael outlined the properties of the Zeppelin airships which were huge, between 520 and 685 feet, more than Buckingham Palace (354 feet). The original Zeppelins were made of duralumin, (later wooden framed) with gasbags to hold the Hydrogen to give it lift, with gondolas strung below for crew, controls, engines and bomb racks. The first raid was on East Anglia, on 19th January 1915, killing four and injuring 16. The shock that it produced was very pronounced as it was so unexpected. Four months later, London was attacked on the 31st May, killing 7 civilians and injuring 35 and causing large amounts of damage. Airplanes were sent to shoot down the Zeppelin, but it flew too high for them to reach. Zeppelins only attacked at night are were difficult to spot and unless a searchlight could catch one then there was very little chance of shooting it down. In addition the Zeppelins were quiet and could drift in before anyone noticed them. Michael had found a photograph of World War I ace Billie Bishop who was awarded the VC for a lot of his work to do with shooting down Zeppelins. The bomb load was 3410 lbs.


After this attack, Sir Charles Wakefield, Lord Mayor of London, offered a reward of £500 for the first gun crew to shoot down a Zeppelin. Also Admiral Sir Percy Scott was placed in charge of London’s guns. He went directly to France and came back with a 75mm anti-aircraft gun, our first effective defence against the Zeppelin, many more were to follow. Michael had a picture of one. The first Zeppelin to be shot down was the L15. However shooting down a Zeppelin is not a one hit wonder. L15 was first hit at Purfleet, but didn’t come down till she was nearer Margate. She was also hit by 2nd Lt Alfred de Bathe Brandon RFC, who climbed above the, by now sinking, L15. Consequently, several groups could claim to have brought down the Zeppelin and the Lord Mayor had a list made of all the people involved (353) and presented each with a 9ct gold medal, instead of handing out the £500 prize. Pictures survive of the L15 in the water and 16 of her crew (out of 18) were rescued by trawlers. The shooting down of the Zeppelin was a huge event and was even commemorated in paintings of the event.


In total, Zeppelins made 51 bombing raids on England during the war, 557 people were killed and

1,358 people were injured. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain,

causing £1.5 million in damage.  84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents.

William Leefe Robinson was awarded the VC for shooting down the SL11 on 3rd September 1916. The Zeppelin crashed in Cuffley, killing all 16 crew. The last raid was on 5th August 1918 but the five Zeppelins were turned back after the newly formed RAF attacked them.


Michael reported that 39 of the medals are known.


After five excellent presentations, the Marc Myhill memorial shield was awarded to Michael.




Answers to Gavin’s Quiz

  1. Reading was a Saxon mint town – true or false? True – under Edward the Confessor
  2. Do 1949 British coins include the legend IND.IMP? No – last used in 1948

3.      Which British monarch issued coins in 1624? James I

4.      What is depicted on the reverse of the 1953 British crown? Elizabeth II on horseback

5.      Which modern coins depict three acorns and oak leaves on the reverse? 3d 1927-36

6.      Silver half-crowns were issued by Philip and Mary – true or false? False

7.      What does E below the bust denote on coins of Queen Anne? Edinburgh Mint

8.      What are Doits Small copper coins of the Netherlands and Dutch provinces circulating 16th - 19th centuries

9.      What does “Decus and Tutamen” mean on the edge of large milled gold and silver coins? An ornament and a safeguard (anti forgery)

10.  What was the contemporary name for the Irish halfpennies of 1766? “Silly Heads”

11.  When did the Gold Standard apply in the UK? 1816 - 1931

12.  When did a leek first appear on the UK coinage? 1953 6d and 2/-

13.  In whose reign were the first official Maundy coins issued? Charles II

14.  Name two members of the Latin Monetary Union founded in 1865 France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Greece (from 1868)

15.  What coins were known as “Napoleons”? French 20 franc gold coins

16.  Reading issued Town halfpennies and farthings in the 17th century – true or false? False – only Newbury issued Town pieces in Berkshire

17.  Which English monarch issued coins in 1250? Henry III

18.  What 20th century British coin features St George and the Dragon facing left? Silver Jubilee Crown 1935

19.  Reading issued no 18th century trade tokens – true or false? True

20.  Reading issued a silver shilling token dated 1811 – true or false? False – silver half-crown and eighteen pence 1811, gold forty shilling, 1812


Future Events.

Past Events

·         In January 1979 Peter Seaby gave a talk on Norman Coinage.

·         In January 1989 Barry Greenaway spoke on An Introduction to Evasion Halfpence of the 18th Century

·         In 1999 the January meeting was on Genuine Forgeries by Thomas Curtis.

·         In 2009 the meeting was given over to Short Talks by members.


Club Secretary.