January 29th 2020.    

Next club meeting Monday 3rd February 2020.

·        Subject – The Wallingford Mint By Stuart Padwick.

Monday 2nd March 2020

·        Club Auction - for members only

Monday 6th April 2020.

·         Scottish Coins of James III By  D. Guest


 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.


Opening time for the February meeting

As we have no volunteer for a back up key holder, the duty has fallen to the Hon. Secretary (me!) and consequently the church doors will not be open before 7pm as that’s the very earliest I can get there. If you arrive before 7pm you’ll be outside in the cold. Naturally, this time is subject to the Reading traffic. If anyone wants to volunteer as back up key holder, please get in touch with Peter.


Parking Update

Due to contacts being unavailable/retired we have not been able to progress the possibility of securing parking places at or near the Abbey church. If and when we have anything to report you will be informed. Having explored potential alternative meeting places the problem is that they are too far from the station. For those coming by train, including speakers, a bus ride would be required from the station, as it would be too far to walk. Hence for now we will remain at the Abbey church.


Places to park are as follows

1)      Queen’s Road car park. This is a 7 minute walk across the river. Costs £3.50 after 6pm. On entering the car park, drive straight ahead to the far end, go down the ramp (following signs for the exit) and park as near the exit as you can, which is close to the back door that gives access to the bridge across the river (see map)

2)      On Street meters in Abbey Square and Kings Road. Limited to 2 hours maximum (4 hours with Disabled Badge, spaces outside the front of the library) with no return (24/7). Costs £1.60 per hour

3)      If you have a bus pass you can use the Mereoak Park and Ride South of Reading (Junction 11 of the M4) off the A33, which has frequent buses into the centre of Reading and will only cost £1. The last bus back goes from Market Place at about 9-30pm.






January Meeting

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



Graham’s talk was on ‘Faces of Numismatics’. He approached the subject in an ‘ABC’ way, beginning with A for Art styles. Starting with the realistic faces from the Ancients series and then giving examples of more abstract designs, such as the Celtic series. Another interesting coin showed a triple strike, revealing how the coin was produced. Also represented were co-joined heads from Roman times and from the reign of Phillip and Mary and ‘dished’ coins from Byzantium. Another example was from the instantly recognisable reign of Henry VIII. There then followed a series of 17th and 18th Century tokens and medals/medallions. Moving on from ‘A’, Graham revealed that ‘B’ was for ‘Best’ adding that perhaps the best recognised design for the longest period was the Athenian portrait, with owl on reverse. For himself, the addition of dolphins added greatly to the artistic nature of the pieces. Two portraits of Greek goddess Tyche followed and then an unusual worn coin with what Graham believed was a slave girl, modelled from life - perhaps a harder task than imagining the picture of a God. Another coin taken from real life is the standing Britannia on the reverse of florins from the reign of Edward VII, featuring Lady Susan Hicks-Beech, second daughter of the Chancellor of the Exchequer a favourite design of Graham’s partly because of its Classical influences. Lastly in the ‘B’ category we had a French medallion made to mark a one hundredth birthday celebration. The last category, ‘C’ is for celebrity. Graham pointed out that the King is always shown on coins, so all his subjects know what he looks like, illustrated by a Charles II halfcrown and then Four Generations of Royalty on a 1d medallette. Even larger that that is the Waterloo Medallion. Next were two medals connected with the Methodist movement. The first was of George Whitfield an open air preacher who taught John Wesley, whose picture was on the second, albeit a paper picture stuck on. Lastly in this category was Winston Churchill, on a silver medal. Graham also pointed out that ‘C’ was for conclusion but his final remark was ‘the more you look – the more you want – the more you acquire’. So maybe its not over yet?



Alastair gave a presentation after reading Colin Narbeth in Coin News, who did a series about dictators on banknotes. Alastair focussed on one dictator from Paraguay, Francisco Solano Lopez. He began by outlining Paraguay’s history. Having been explored by a shipwrecked sailor Juan Diaz de Solis in 1516, its capital Asuncion was established in 1537, though independence was not gained until 1811, following the Argentinean Revolution against Spain in 1810. Early on, Paraguay was ruled by three Dictators – all of whom appear on 20th century bank notes:

Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Frania known as ‘El Supremo’ 1811-1840

Carlos Antonio Lopez ruled with absolute power from 1844 – 1862 – during his rule banknotes were introduced in 1856 in Reales and Pesos

His son Francisco Solano Lopez 1862-1870

Francisco Solano Lopez started a war to gain territory from Brazil and Argentina and intervene in the civil war in Uruguay in 1864, this was the war of the ‘Triple Alliance’.

It ended in his death on the battlefield crying ,  Muero con mi Patria! (I die with my Homeland!)” along with 50,000 dead in Brazil, 30,000 from Argentina and 5,000 from Uruguay. However Paraguay lost 300,000 at a time when its total population was half a million. Paraguay also lost 54,000 square miles of territory to Brazil and Argentina – nearly half its territory. Most of the Paraguayan casualties were from disease and starvation. With everyone in the country fighting there were no farmers left working. Little is heard of this war, perhaps because it overlaps with the War of Independence in North America.


The armies were very amateur and lacking in even basic transport, although interestingly Francisco’s father had brought in the first steam train to South America. From 1870 until the end of the century Paraguay experienced a chronic economic and social crisis since only 28,000 of its 160,000 remaining population were adult males – post war the female:male ratio was 4:1 rising to 20:1 in the most devastated areas. Debt incurred by Brazil hampered economic growth and was one of the factors that lead to the fall of the Brazilian Empire in 1889 and the proclamation of the first Brazilian Republic. The population of Paraguay was so decimated that the economy was destroyed and banknotes became virtually worthless. Until recently these banknotes could be picked up very cheaply. The more recent banknotes reflect an interesting past turbulent history – although to date no Nazi fugitive has appeared on their banknotes!

He finished by giving some details of the battles that were fought during the war, which early on was going Paraguay’s way. Sadly that didn’t last and in truth, it was South America that lost most.



Neil gave a topical talk, concerning the 400th Anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower with the Pilgrim Fathers to America. He showed a picture of the reconstructed Mayflower II, built in 1957, which recreated the voyage from Plymouth England to Plymouth USA. It was originally a merchant ship, bought in London. Neil explained how the Pilgrim fathers were actually two lots of people. Firstly, there were people from the Midlands, who fell out of favour with the King (James I) and after initially decamping to Holland, finding that no better, decided to go to the ‘New World’. They bought a ship, called the Speedwell, left Holland and went to meet with a second group, originally from the London area, in Southampton. Unfortunately, the Speedwell was unsuited to an Atlantic crossing, especially as it was late in the season and they had only got as far as Dartmouth after three days. At this point, some of the Pilgrims gave up and went back to London, the rest acquired the Mayflower and went on to Plymouth, from which they sailed to America, the event being recorded by the Plymouth stone in the Barbican in Plymouth. Next, Neil showed a map of where they sailed to, arriving at the tip of Cape Cod and spending the next month exploring before ending up in Plymouth USA. Interestingly, when they arrived there weren’t many Indians about, giving them a clear run at the country. The reason for this was that previous visitors to the USA, who had gone for business reasons, did their business in the Summer and traded with the Indians and then went home, leaving behind various diseases that killed off many of the native Indians. The Pilgrims set about creating an area known as the Plymouth Colony, with town names reminiscent of England.

Neil then showed a medal, which celebrates Plymouth Rock, now a monument in itself, which is where the Pilgrims got off the boat. He himself found it underwhelming and not the massive stone everyone imagines. Next came a picture of Mayflower II itself, now permanently in the USA, from which Neil picked out the stern of the boat, noting how small it was and how many people had to cram into it. After that we had a picture of a half dollar commemorative, celebrating the tercentenary of the landing and a pamphlet from the UK celebrations in 1920 – which lasted 11 days! Then there was a medal celebrating the building of the Mayflower II, complete with an extra sail! Followed by a medallion celebrating the 350th Anniversary, from a Royal Mint Set and details of a Pinches’ medal.

As an added extra, Neil had an unrecorded 17th C token from Uffculme in Devon. Uffculme was a peculiar Parish, under the Bishop of Salisbury, rather than Exeter which meant that its records survived the blitz on Exeter during the second World War, hence Neil was able to give details of the issuer, who he believed was a money lender.



Michael talked about “British West Africa”. Only late last year it occurred to him that he had absolutely no idea where it actually was, despite dealing in coins from there for fifty years. After hunting for it on maps, he finally discovered that it was not one single country but four, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria. First to be colonised by England was Gambia, the reason being the slave trade. It is the Gambian river that features in the book Roots. All four countries used ‘primitive’ money until 1907 when the Governor of Lagos (Nigeria) asked for a currency specific to the area. It was based on Sterling. The first issues bear the legend “Nigeria British West Africa”, presumably because Nigeria asked for the coinage.  1/10d, ½d and 1d coins were issued, mainly for use by the natives and all were holed so that they could be kept on a string. In 1912 the British West Africa Currency Board issued extra coins for the four countries, this time without ‘Nigeria’ in the legend. Later on, 3d, 6d, 1/- and 2/- coins were issued, with the last date of issue being 1957, when many of the countries achieved independence. Simultaneously, from about 1916 till 1960 banknotes were issued, the 10/- and 20/- were the most popular though 2/- and 5/- notes were also issued. In 1953 the notes were reduced in size in line with the British notes of the time and all the notes (10/-, 20/- and £5) had the same obverse.

Smallest of the four, Gambia issued equivalent Sterling banknotes from 1965 to 1970. Next largest was Sierra Leone, which gained independence in 1961 and began issuing its own banknotes in 1964. The Gold Coast, or Ghana, as it became, was given independence in 1957 and issued Sterling notes as the others between 1958 and 1963, before starting its own currency from 1965. Largest of the four, Nigeria, gained independence in 1960, issuing Sterling banknotes in 1959 before issuing its own currency in 1973.


Michael had brought along examples of coins and banknotes from all four colonies and even some related stamps for members to look at.


After four excellent presentations, the Marc Myhill memorial shield was (once again) awarded to Michael Gouby for his talk.


Answers to Gavin’s Quiz

  1. DEI GRATIA – first appearance on English coins – who or when? Edward I, 1279

2.      Which monarch issued English coins in 1557? Mary I

3.      Name 3 mints other than London used in the Great Recoinage of 1696-7 Bristol, Chester, Exeter, Norwich, York

4.      Before 1707 what was one shilling Scots equivalent to in English currrency? One penny

5.      What is the date on Dorrien and Magens shillings? 1798

6.      What tokens were issued in Token House Yard in the City of London? Harrington farthings 1613

7.      What do the provenance marks elephant or elephant and castle signify? Metal imported from Guineau by the Africa Company

8.      Scottish shillings were issued dated1938 – true or false? True

9.      The office of Governor of the Mint of Scotland was abolished when - 1603, 1707, 1817 or 1837? 1817

10.  When was the first English silver crown issued? 1551

11.  Copper farthings were issued dated 1860 – true or false? True

12.  What is the diameter of the pre-decimal bronze halfpenny? One inch

13.  Young head farthings were issued dated 1895 – true or false? True

14.  Black finish farthings were issued dated 1896 – true or false? False

15.  Which monarch issued British coins in 1829? George IIII

16.  In which British territory were French coins current until 1830? Channel Islands

17.  Where were Perpers issued? Montenegro

18.  Where were Sapeques issued? Annam, Cochin China, French Indo China

19.  Who issued the first zinc coins? Germany during WW1 in occupied territories

20.  Where were Skars issued? Tibet (1908)


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