September 2nd. 2020.

Upcoming club meetings:

Monday 7th September – 8pm.

·        Subject - This will be another ‘Zoom’ meeting, open to all members. We hope to include at least one short talk courtesy of Alastair MacKay in the 40 minutes available as well as bringing members up to date with any developments.


August Meeting

The electronic ‘Zoom’ meeting was attended by ten members, presumably some of the others are on holiday. The idea of a Summer Social has met with little or no support, so the idea has been dropped.


Substantially, there is no change in our situation as regards meeting in person. However, it is clear that things in general are easing up. Having spoken/e-mailed/’zoom’ed almost all of the membership over the last few weeks, the general feeling is that we’d like meetings to resume, providing it is safe and in line with Government recommendations. A proportion of the membership would not return at present because of underlying conditions, shielding partners or the risk to other people who live in the household (eg. parents). It is also clear that some fairs are starting to open again and even COINEX. In view of all this, the committee are looking into what would need to be in place before a meeting can be held. Our initial target would be to open in November.


On asking whether there have been any exciting things happening in the World of Coins, it turns out that Baldwins had an auction, with some very high prices. Speculation from our meeting is that people are desperate for new stock, there being no fairs at the moment, so are willing to pay more for whatever stock can be had.

Having brought everyone up to date, we were then treated to a short talk by Peter.


Claudius’ fallen Arches


The triumphal arch was a type of Roman architectural monument built all over the empire to commemorate military triumphs and other significant events, such as the accession of a new emperor. Probably at least 100 were built around the Empire and the remains of up to 45 are extant. Rome has four (see the Arch of Titus (right) built in AD 81 to commemorate the successful campaign to put down the Jewish rebellion in Judea) and almost all cities had at least one.


Britannia was a Roman Province from the Claudian invasion of AD 43. A massive quadrifrons (four-way) triumphal arch was erected straddling Watling Street, the main road from Richborough in Kent to London. Its position and size suggest it may have been built to celebrate the final conquest of Britain after Agricola’s victory at the battle of Mons Graupius in AD 83. Almost 82 ft high, it had a facade of high quality, Italian granite.


Standing as it did between the port and the province, passage through the arch signified formal entry into Britannia. Only the foundations and mound of the Richborough arch are still visible. It was demolished by the Romans themselves, to provide building materials for the later Saxon Shore fort on the site.


But let’s go back a bit and look at the coins – Octavian (Augustus), after the Battle of Actium (BC 31) at which he defeated Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra, built two victory arches; neither survived but a denarius does. Similarly, the Roman Senate voted to erect two triumphal arches to celebrate Claudius' conquest of Britain, one in Gaul and another in Rome.


Augustus, denarius, BC 31, in a quadriga


Claudius, aureus, AD 47, on horseback

DE BRITANN (Obv legend retrograde)


The Arch of Claudius was dedicated in AD 51, although it was anticipated on the reverse of coins issued in AD 46-47 and AD 49. It was a conversion of one of the arches of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct where it crossed the Via Flaminia, the main road to the north. The Arch of Claudius in Rome is now lost. However, fragments of the Arch still survive at the Capitoline Museums.


A 1756 sketch survives (see below), along with a number of accounts from visitors to Rome.


The condition of the Arch appears to have deteriorated as early as the eighth century. However, portions of the structure were discovered in 1562, 1641 and 1869 and include part of the principal inscription, inscriptions dedicated to other members of the imperial family, some of the foundations, and fragments of sculpture.



And the inscription reads:

The Roman Senate and People to Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, son of Drusus, Pontifex Maximus, Tribunician power eleven times, Consul five times, Imperator 22 times, Censor, Father of the Fatherland, because he received the surrender of eleven kings of the Britons defeated without any loss, and first brought barbarian peoples across the Ocean into the dominion of the Roman people.




And to finish off, here is the third part of Mick’s series on the Bank of England Token series

Georgian Bank of England Tokens

Part 3  1804 – 1816


So what happened after the octagonal countermarked dollars were issued?

The Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Boulton, with his fully functioning Soho mint viewed the Bank of England and Royal Mint counter stamping efforts as pathetic. With his steamed powered machinery he could take an 8 Reale and with one blow both stamp a new design & obliterate the old one, and by using a collar make them all the same diameter. It was a good idea yes, but overcoming the prejudice of the Royal Mint and the ignorance of their Lordships and other officials was very difficult.


Eventually with the help of a few influential supporters and after much lobbying his impressive pattern Garter dollar won the day (partially). The Privy Council and Bank accepted the obverse of but wanted the reverse to be the seal of the Bank with the words ‘Bank of England Dollar, a Token for Five Shillings’. This legend proved too long and was shortened to ‘Five Shillings Dollar’ as illustrated.


While Boulton did receive a contract there were several revisions about responsibilities, die destruction, the extent of obliterating the old design, transport and security, mainly at the behest of the obstructing Royal Mint. The mint officials had never forgiven Boulton for obtaining the contract for the British copper currency and took every opportunity to thwart his plans. But one point that nearly derailed the whole programme was the contract reference to Boulton as a mere ‘tradesman of Birmingham’. It provoked much anger and Boulton’s response to the London Hogs as he called them was thus: ‘Early in life Fortune gave me the option of being an idle man commonly called a gentleman, but I chose to be of the class that contributes to the purse of the commonwealth rather than one who takes from it and contributes nothing’.


At this time it is worth noting that Boulton was not alone in receiving disrespectful treatment from London, despite the North being the power house of the Industrial Revolution.  Many of the great northern Industrialists viewed the arrogance and prejudice of the posturing ignorant London officials with equal disgust.


Between early April and late May 1804 Boulton stamped over 1.1 million dollars, an enormous amount in such a short time and well beyond the capabilities of the Royal Mint. This did not stop the mint officials raising objections that Boulton’s presses did not always obliterate all traces of the 8 Reales . Luckily others saw this as a good anti forgery feature. The new dollars were issued from mid May at a value of 5/-, the melt value being 4/8½d. The octagonal countermarked pieces were then steadily withdrawn.

A further striking of 1804 dollars was requested but because with the resumption of war with France legitimate supplies of 8 Reales became scarce. So as production ceased once again Mr Forger got to work.

The example on the left is typical copper plated forgery, albeit quite a good one – the one on the right is a very good forgery & only detectable by the indistinct detail

After Britain’s Naval victories there was much improvement in business confidence and by late 1809 another issue of dollars was needed to stabilise the effects of a speculative boom. So in 1810 Soho began stamping a further 3.5 million dollars, but now an 8 Reales was valued at 5/2½d. So that dollars would not be melted the Treasury recommended the value be raised to 5/6d. This gave the Bank a real problem - a token clearly marked 5/- with a proposed trading value of 5/6d.


Once again the Bank approached Soho for a new design, now in the hands of Boulton Jnr since Matthew Boulton Snr had died in 1809. Initially he was reluctant to progress the request. Like his father he had had enough of the Londoners games and also regarded coin production as a distracting sideline to the main Soho businesses of supplying machinery et el to power the world. Probably because of the huge order for stamping dollars he eventually did reluctantly comply with the request. For the sake of expediency he adapted the design of the Irish 6/- token to produce the pattern which was rejected. Meanwhile in London the various authorities had been stirred into action by the plethora of traders silver tokens. Despite the calls for regal silver coins the Government & Treasury stood aloof while the various committees conducted endless discussions around denominations, silver standard and intrinsic value After much convoluted debate they produced a specification for further bank tokens comprising a bust of George on one side and an oak wreath surrounding the value on the reverse. For legal reasons the values had to be different to those of regal coinage, hence the values of 5/6d, 3/-, 1/6d and 9d. Boulton complied with a submission for 5/6d. The two Boulton patterns which never went into production are shown below.

Having miraculously decided there was a need for smaller values on the 11 June 1811 an order for 2 million 3/- & 5 million 1/6d was published, the reverse design to be ‘Bank token for x shillings + the date within an oak wreath per the agreed specification. Then there was the debate as to who would supply. It went to the Royal mint on the basis they had the new mint machinery, ironically supplied by Soho. Expecting to go into full production with new machinery was foolhardy and the Mint was soon in trouble meeting targets – but that is another story.


The first 1811 tokens produced were as shown below


And as expected there were forgeries


A second issue of 3/- & 1/6d Bank tokens were struck until 1816.



In 1816 the long awaited regal coins first appeared, the Treasury realising at long last there had to be a margin between the coinage value and the price of bullion.

And that was the end of Bank of England tokens


Past Events

Traditionally, there have been no meetings in August, the role being taken by the ‘Summer Social’.


Club Secretary.