Telephone (01344) 774155                                                                 19, The Brackens,

E-mail:                                                     Crowthorne,

                                                                                                            Berks. RG45 6TB

October 23rd 2019.

Monday 4th November.

·        Billies and Charlies By P. Mernick.

Monday 2nd December.

Monday 6th January.

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




·         A Skittles evening has been arranged at the Jack O’Newbury, Terrace Rd N, Binfield, Bracknell RG42 5HZ on 26 October 2019, starting at 18.45. The price including supper will be about £18 per person. We used to go to The Red Lion in Theale but that is now a private house. If you would like to come (no previous experience necessary) please get in touch with a Committee member or directly with Peter.

Club guests are very welcome. For limited details about the Pub please see

·         The annual Christmas Dinner has been arranged for 14 December 2019 at the usual pub - The Cunning Man, Burghfield Bridge, assembling at 18.45. The price is £25 (as last year) to include the Festive Season three course dinner and coffee and tea. Menus were circulated at the last Club meeting and copies are available from Peter or at the October Club meeting.

We will need your choices by end-November but I should like to confirm numbers in mid-October.

·         Please continue thinking about Short Talks for January, and Auction lots for March!


October Meeting

Apologies were received from Graham Kirby.


Our own member Alastair gave a talk on Home Safes. These were a way of saving, essentially locked boxes whose keys were kept by either the Bank or Building Society who issued them. Every so often you would take the locked box in to have the contents transferred to your account and have your pass book ‘made up’. Alastair came across these boxes while he was collecting old pass books, share certificates and the like. Most of them are fairly cheap. There is a huge variety, the simplest being just money boxes, others allowing you to see the coins inside and how many of each there were and some with mechanisms that allowed you to change the date every time you ‘saved’ a sixpence. They seem to have been limited to England and Wales, no Scottish or Irish ones having yet appeared.


Home safes were around from the start of the twentieth century until about 1970. The claim for the oldest (1903) is by the Co-op and it was an idea that came from America. These safes were the moneybox type and made of steel. From 1921 chrome boxes (oval or round) were introduced and also book types. They were aimed at children the idea being to develop the idea of saving early (one of the audience members remembered being given one as a Xmas present!). Coins from 1d upwards could be saved in the chrome boxes and some even had a hole in the bottom for notes. They did not take 1/2d, 1/4d or the brass threepences - possibly because the Home Safes were on the way out when the brass threepence was coming in. A deposit was taken when the account was opened and the safe first issued, it would be returned when the account closed if the safe was returned in good condition.


The original steel safes were made in the US. From the designs of the boxes, the history of the business mergers and also manufacturing details on the boxes it is often possible to date the safes to within a few years. Alastair then showed a series of slides illustrating the fact that these safes were issued countrywide as witnessed by the number of different locations and societies advertised on them. A great deal of Social History has disappeared since the demutualization of the Building Societies, the mergers meaning that many regional branches and the associated paranumismatic items have disappeared into history. Starting with the oldest boxes first and proceeding chronologically the first to be shown (a steel moneybox) was from the ‘Reading Industrial Co-op’, whose offices are now somewhere under the IDR. Others from the ‘Leek United and Midlands’, ‘Leeds Permanent’, ‘Wakefield and West Riding Permanent’ and the ‘Bradford Second Equitable Benefit’ followed, together with the ensuing history of each society. An advertisement of the times (1920-30) mentioned some 7000 institutions that were issuing the boxes.


Inevitably the many mergers that have taken place among the different societies and that have been extensively researched by Alastair came into the picture. The first chrome boxes to be illustrated were from the ‘Abbey Road’ and the ‘National’ societies, of course later to merge as ‘Abbey National’ in 1944. Book safes were manufactured in Birmingham by Pearson Page Jewsbury Co Ltd. Of Soho Works.


Many other chrome boxes/books were illustrated, together with the background to the society/bank involved. To mention but a few, we saw the ‘Co-op Permanent’ which later became Nationwide, ‘Anglia Building Society’ formed by merger from ‘Northampton Town and Country’ and ‘Leicestershire’, ‘Alliance’ merged with ‘Leicester’ in 1985, an older version of the ‘Yorkshire’, ‘Huddersfield’ merged with Bradford Permanent’ to become the present day ‘Yorkshire’, ‘the Bristol and West’ was demutualised in 1997, only to be remutualised when taken over by the Britannia Building Society in 2005, ‘The Cosmopolitan Permanent’ which only had 69 depositors, ‘Cheltenham and Gloucester’ acquired by Lloyds TSB, the ‘Coventry Permanent Economic’ tended to open branches wherever a major car industry was situated, ‘Halifax’ was the largest Building Society in its time, as a result of deliberately opening branches in a wide geographic area and others. Some would distinguish themselves by using moderately spurious claims on the boxes, thus, for example, ‘Hastings’ billed itself as ‘largest on the South Coast’, ‘Bexhill on Sea’ claimed ‘Best in Sussex’, ‘Rock Permanent’ merged with ‘Northern Counties’ to form ‘Northern Rock’.


Alastair went on to discuss how rare these Home Safes are, dependent on a number of factors, for example how heavily they were marketed or how long they were marketed for.


Many thanks to Alastair for an interesting paranumismatic talk which had clearly been well researched and extensively illustrated.



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 Hall. For anyone who does not pay their subs, this issue of the newsletter will be the last they receive.


Future Events.


Past Events

10 Year ago – was a talk given by John Roberts-Lewis on British Colonial Money

20 Years ago – Bryce presented a talk on ‘Funny Money’

40 Years ago – A talk by George Berry entitled "London Tavern Tokens"

Club Secretary.