August 12th. 2019.
· This was a trip to the British Museum
Monday 2nd September.
Monday 7th October.
Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.
Abbey Baptist Church
The Abbey Baptist church has now been at this site for forty years. In recognition of this a Grand Feast was held in the Church to which the Coin Club was invited. John attended as representative.
Along with the church's own members, attendees came from many of the surrounding churches and were treated to an international array of dishes. A display gave the history of the building and the move from the site of the older church in the Kings Road. The current church is the direct descendant of the first Baptist church in Reading which was founded in 1640.
We are very fortunate to have the use of this exceptional building and long may it continue.
It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of John Beamish (88), our oldest member. John joined in January 1965 and served on the committee as well as helping out in informal ways over the many years of his membership, always happy and able to give advice and share his knowledge of coin collecting. We had not seen so much of him in recent years, since he took up bowls, as the bowls club also met on a Monday. Several members of the club attended his funeral (standing room only), to see him given a good send off by all his friends and family. He will be sorely missed by the club and we send our heartfelt commiserations to Jean and the rest of his family.
Frances and Howard Simmons gave a talk on “Coin Weights and Scales”, the latest version of a talk first given in 2011 to the Norwich Coin and Medal Society. Frances began by asking “Why do we need to weigh coins?”. In the first case this is to ensure that the coins produced are still to the official standards, even after the weight may have been affected by wear but also to aid in identifying counterfeits. Such weights have existed since Roman times and possibly earlier, though in Ancient Greek times, the weight and the value were more or less the same thing, thus ordinary commercial weights could be used.
In many ways the study of coin weights is a study into fraud. In England it started to become necessary to check weights after the introduction of the Gold coinage of Edward III, with unofficial pictorial, pewter coin weights arriving first. These were probably made by goldsmiths, official coin weights appearing in the reign of Henry VI, for Nobles, Ryals and Angels, distributed from London. After 1600 weights were made of brass rather than bronze, possibly in Holland, or manufactured in London by the Dutch. This gave rise to concerns and official round weights were produced, by Nicholas Briot. Some official coin weights were issued for silver coins and had ‘without grains’ on them as part of the legend, indicating that this was the absolute minimum weight for the coin, some allowance having been made for loss of weight since issue. The Guinea issued after the Restoration has corresponding weights being available with many varieties. There are also English weights for Foreign coins issued in 1740, some Portuguese coins having the same gold content as English coins and used interchangeably during the 18th Century. Some collectors hunt for weights from a particular maker. By 1776, coin weights had gone back to having both weight and value stamped on them. There are many different types as coin weights kept changing. This proliferation of coin weights was necessary because of the problems of provision of coinage was becoming worse. There are even coin weights from Victoria’s reign.
This was not just a problem in the UK and Phillip III of Flanders commissioned a set of weights for all the coins of different countries used in trade, including a set for English gold. These weights are quite scarce and are all pictorial and could have up to 50 different pieces. Because of this, one should not assume from what is stamped on a weight, where it was made, when it was made or in which country it was being used. Catalogues tend to only put where the weight was made and what it was made for, not even the ‘when’ being certain.
Frances then went on talk about the different types of equipment/balances used with weights. Starting with the ‘equal arm balance’, examples of which are known from Ancient Egypt.
During the Industrial Revolution in the UK, clockmakers began producing portable balances of a folding type, which would have cost about a guinea. A more advanced design used a counterweight, removing the need to have individual weights for each coin. The weighing of coins carried on into the twentieth Century up until the time we came off the Gold Standard in 1921. Another type of balance, the ‘Steelyard balance’ had been used earlier, a type of counterweight device, again avoiding the need for individual coin weights.
Frances then opened the talk for questions. The first question revealed that an inspection of the weights showed that they were generally of correct weight. The penalties for incorrect weights were very severe and examples of the type of penalties can be seen in the Tower of London. It turns out that a lot of the old weights have survived, although the smaller fractions are harder too find. The next question concerned the technicalities of the rocker balance, which led to a discussion of just how accurate a balance needed to be to detect a counterfeit as compared to a worn genuine coin. The next question concerned how many of the coin weights were made and what sorts, so for example a two sovereign weight was produced but never really used as the double sovereign didn’t circulate. The final question revealed that many coin weights for coins of different countries were made in Holland and they were used all over the World.
Thank you to Frances (and Howard!) for a well researched and entertaining talk.
For this year’s Summer Social nine members and one guest made a return visit to the British Museum.
Having gathered in the ‘Money Gallery’ we were able to spend some time looking at the various displays telling the story, use and significance of money and coinage.
In each display there are some truly spectacular numismatic treasures from the UK, Europe and around the world ranging from the birth of coins to modern issues. The gallery also has fine examples of the Janvier reducing machine and an amazingly complex engraving machine. This permanent display is well worth a visit.
The second smaller exhibition entitled ‘Playing with Money’ is about pseudo money used in games. The curator of the exhibition Robert Bracey gave us a brief overview of the museum’s recent move into Paranumismatics. While the museum has a good collection of model ‘Toy’ coins which the late Victorian & later generations used to play shops etc, the thrust of this exhibition is about games that involve the use of pseudo money, eg ‘Monopoly’. Surprisingly some of this play money is based upon real specie while much is merely artistic work.
We then moved into the coin study room where we examined particular coins requested by members. Again many of the specimens were outstanding.
We looked at:
Our thanks go to the staff of the BM (Philip Attwood, Barry Cooke & Tom Hockenhall) for hosting our visit to the study room.
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 – 31st August -1st September
· Birmingham Coin Fair - National Motorcycle museum – 8th September
· Spinks Auction, 69 Southampton Row, London – 24-25th September
· COINEX, Grosvenor Square, London – 27-28th September
Ten years ago Michael Gouby gave a talk on The Evolution of Money.
Twenty years ago, Michael and Val organized a Treasure Hunt for the Summer Social