October 28th. 2020.

Upcoming club meetings:

Monday 2nd November – 8pm.

·        Subject - This will be another ‘Zoom’ meeting, open to all members. We will include a short talk courtesy of James about trading on EBAY in the 40 minutes available as well as bringing members up to date with any developments.


September Meeting

The electronic ‘Zoom’ meeting was attended by eleven members.


John was able to tell everyone that we have now contacted John and he is safe and well. John has also contacted previous club members (Jean , Jean and Maurice) and all are well.


I have had an e-mail from ‘Dan’ who volunteers in one of the Oxfams in Reading (not sure which), pointing out that they now have some coins in their shop.


I have had an e-mail notifying me of a new book out, the ‘Standard Catalog of Ecuadorian Coins A Checklist and Compendium’ By Dale Seppa and Michael J. Anderson. Please contact me if you need details.


For the time being we will continue with Zoom meetings once a month. If you have not joined in these sessions before, please do have a go. Its not difficult (ask any grandchild to help you) 😊. We believe it is important to keep the members of the club in touch with one another and this is a good way to do it. Meetings are currently limited to 40 minutes and only once a month so they shouldn’t take up too much of anyone’s time.


Having brought everyone up to date, we were then treated to a short talk by Neil entitled ‘Four Kings and Four Castles’


The talk concerned Devonshire 17th C tokens from Plymouth. A lot of 17th C tokens were made by Tower mint engravers and there was a great demand for them because of the paucity of regal small change. Tokens started out in London from 1649 but then spread throughout the land, finally being abolished by Royal decree in 1672. Farthing tokens were 15.5mm and halfpenny tokens 22mm, similar to other small coins in France and Scotland. They were available in different shapes and there was an innovative use of English for legends.


In Devon, there are approximately 425 tokens from 380 issuers, such as merchants, innkeepers etc. They are all round and both farthings and halfpennies were issued. They usually have a date and most were issued in Exeter(96) then Plymouth(44) and Tiverton(25) accounting for 39%. Several towns issued their own tokens, which were issued by churches and the like for the poor, an early Social Security system. In the country as a whole 3% of issuers were female, in Plymouth 13.6%.


Before discussing the tokens, Neil explained some of the History. Henry VIII built a castle with four towers (hence the title of the talk), to form a sea defence. During the Reformation there was a lot of infighting between the land owners and the merchants. In Plymouth the merchants held sway and although Plymouth was besieged by Royalists in the Civil War, it was never taken. Tokens started being made in the Commonwealth period. Neil showed a map of Plymouth from the period and explained where the castle lay in relation to the town and the surrounding approaches.



Turning now to the tokens, starting with the 1650s, the first Devonian ones were issued in 1651 and we saw an example from the Sun inn in Plymouth. On the reverse of the token were often three initials, the top one from the surname, the lower left the first name, the third, generally a wife. The next token shown was issued by Samuell Northcott in 1653 when he was a postmaster. Another was from John Payne, featuring an interesting design with a pelican feeding its chicks. Neil explained that many varieties existed amongst the tokens, often arising when the issuer went back for a second lot of tokens and the maker didn’t quite do things the same as last time. We saw a token from Ioachim Gevers which featured a Castle Gateway for which there are more than one type. Another feature of the reverses was the use of a five pointed star in the Commonwealth period. After that we had a token issued by William Warren, a well to do publican, who donated the land where stands the remains of Charles Church in Plymouth (named after Charles I). Another of his tokens showed an unlisted variety where a completely different version of the Obverse design (a fleece) is present. A fouled anchor featured on a 1657 token from Iosias Pickes, though we can only guess at Mr Pickes occupation. Next we had a token with the historical arms of Plymouth, which show a St. Andrew’s saltire in between four castles. In fact the design was chosen because the issuer’s inn was called the Four Castles. Yet another pub landlord who issued tokens was Richard Hatch in 1659 at the ‘Bunch of Grapes’, the obverse featuring just such a bunch.

About 20% of the tokens are not dated, though most are probably from the 1650s, during the Commonwealth period. Neil showed one issued by John Cooke with the design being ‘Family Arms’ (three pears separated by a reverse chevron). Next came an unrecorded pub token issued by William Geffrie, a one time Mayor of Plymouth, for the Ironmongers Arms. A token issued by Edward Pateson, himself a draper, shows the Drapers Arms from the Livery Company in London. Pateson supplied cloth to the Garrison while Plymouth was under siege from the Royalists.


Moving on to the 1660s, when Charles II was returned to the Throne the King built ‘The Citadel’ on the corner of the Hoe to guard against Plymouthians defying him as they had his father. In addition to the sheer size of the Citadel, its position meant that Plymouth could no longer be supplied by sea if it were under siege. Tokens tended to be bigger and bolder, though still the same denominations.



First off was a farthing token from Abraham Appelbee a trader who also ran a pub called The Ship, hence the design on the token. A second token with nautical connections was issued by John Parett and had a picture of a navigational instrument, the Backstaff. Unusually this token had a monogram of letters on the reverse. Another unrecorded token was of the ‘Family Arms’ type, issued by a rich grocer William Toms. Another publican, Nicholas Cole issued a token in 1665 with a Rose design. Benjamin Dunning’s token had a castle design, almost certainly not the new Citadel, most likely he ran a pub called The Castle. From 1667 we had a token issued by Henry Clarke, featuring a lion design. Possibly another pub had tokens issued by Elizabeth Byland with the Cooper’s Arms design. Another lady issuer, Judith Ford had a very simple design, date on obverse and initials on reverse, probably the cheap and cheerful end of the token market.


Turning now to halfpennies we saw a token issued by Michael Hooke a well to do grocer in Plymouth, followed by a halfpenny token issued by Henry Davis, which showed a common design, made of his initials entwined with flowers. Mr. Davis died the same year he issued the token (1669) but left his son who was living in Barbados £1000, however, if his son had sold the goods he went out with, meaning he had survived the trip, then he would leave him £2000. Life expectancy on such trips was not high. Next was a token found in the mud further up the Tamar from Plymouth. It is from Oreston and is the only known token from there, issued by two merchants, William and Arthur Collings.


A very interesting talk, linking together the history of the period, with the history of the people who lived in those times. Many thanks to Neil.


And, last, but not least, a continuation from Peter’s earlier talk on Fallen Arches


More Arches, now fallen: Roma Numismatics’ forthcoming sale includes coins portrayed in the talk Claudius’ Fallen Arches. But, watch the estimates before deciding to buy!




Catalogue Image


Estimate £15,000

Augustus AV Aureus. Spanish mint (Colonia Patricia (Cordova)?), 18-17 BC. bare head right / triple triumphal arch, central arch surmounted by statue of Augustus driving a quadriga; figure on left arch holding a standard, figure on right arch holding an aquila and bow. This coin depicts the now ruined arch of Augustus which originally stood in the Forum Romanorum, probably constructed in 19 BC to celebrate the return the legionary standards lost by Crassus to the Parthians in 53 BC. The appearance of this arch is preserved solely through the numismatic record.




Estimate £25,000

Claudius AV Aureus. Rome or Lugdunum (Lyons), AD 46-47 laureate head right / triumphal arch surmounted by equestrian statue to left flanked by two trophies. Aulius Plautius halted the invasion of Britain at the River Thames, to which the Britons had withdrawn as their next line of defence, and sent for the emperor Claudius. He brought with him reinforcements, including a contingent of elephants to overawe the natives. For the victories won in Britannia, the Senate voted two triumphal arches, erected - in Rome, and in Gaul. As previously noted, this denarius depicts the anticipated triumphal Arch of Claudius, commissioned in AD 43, but which would not be dedicated until AD 51. 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 of Rome.



Peter, September 2020


Past Events

·         10 years ago – The Coinage of the Knights of Malta” - Tony Holmes

·         20 years ago – “The Numismatics of Three Great Naval Battles” - Peter Clayton

·         40 years ago – “Medals of the Royal Berks” - Albert


Club Secretary.