September 25th. 2020.

Upcoming club meetings:

Monday 5th October – 8pm.

·        Subject - This will be another ‘Zoom’ meeting, open to all members. We will include a short talk courtesy of Neil 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 ten members, with apologies from one other.


John reported that we were still aiming to have our first meeting back in the Abbey Baptist Church in November but the latest tightening of restrictions has scuppered that.

Graham had ordered David Sear’s book ‘Ancient Greek and Roman Coins Vol 1’ and reports that it is a good book (£50) and contains mostly Greek, with many good illustrations.


The committee are going ahead with the preparation of a ‘Risk Assesment’, that will have to go to the Church for agreement before we can have a meeting. We are grateful to Ian for his help with this. It is intended to have dealers at the meeting and a speaker. When we finally are allowed to meet again I will be contacting members to try and ascertain who would attend such a meeting and find a speaker for the evening (it is likely to be one of our own). We will also need volunteers to help with some of the measures that will turn up in the ‘Risk Assessment’, including guarding doors and cleaning down surfaces. Naturally, we will not go ahead with this unless the Government rules allow it.


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 Alastair.


Banknotes issued during the Mexican Revolution 1910-20

Alastair started by reviewing Mexican history and revealed a list of people being assassinated, deposed or otherwise that at times makes Roman history look almost pedestrian in comparison. Longest to serve was 33 years and shortest about 33 minutes!

Civilizations flourished in Mexico from about 1200BC until 1500AD, the best known being the Aztecs and the Mayans. Through Warfare and alliances, the Aztecs came to assume dominant positions and built their capital at Tenochtitlan, now better known as Mexico City. The population of pre-Spanish Mexico was around 5 million people.


The Aztecs were not too popular and when Herman Cortes invaded in 1519 he was able to make alliances with local groups that meant the Aztec Empire was defeated and the capital city destroyed two years later. Spain then stayed under Spanish rule for the next 300 years, expanding to some 5 million km2, south to Panama and North to present day Oregon. First of the Mexican revolutionaries in 1810 were priests, Miguel Hidalgo and Jose Maria Morelos, both arrested and executed for being heretics. However the insurgency was carried on in the mountains by Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerrero who carried on the fight becoming respectively the first and second presidents of an independent Mexico, independence having been declared in 1821. Following from them was a succession of presidents, mostly overthrown by coups. This instability and infighting led to a loss of territory in much of Central America.


In the sparsely populated Northern provinces Mexico tried to encourage settlement but only succeeded in having the new settlers take over the land, which was the origin of Texas. Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna won it back in 1836 when the famous battle of The Alamo settled the matter. Later, in 1846, the USA recognised Texas and declared war on Mexico, a war which they subsequently won. By 1847 the US had annexed New Mexico and California and had set up a separate front which reached the capital itself. American terms for ending the war in February 1848 were in the Treaty of Guadalupe–Hidalgo which effectively cut the Mexican territory in half. Though Santa Anna became president again in 1853 a new uprising from the south lead to Santa Anna’s fall, the War of Reform leading to two presidents one in Veracruz the other in Mexico City by 1861 Benito Juarez emerged triumphant


America continued to acquire parts of Mexico by means of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 when it obtained 76,000km² for 15 million dollars.

Mexico was now very short of cash and greatly in debt, and the countries they had borrowed from (principally Britain, France and Spain) dispatched warships to demand interest payment. Juarez and his Government were forced into exile. France installed Maximillian, brother of Franz Josef the Emperor of Austro-Hungry, as Emperor of Mexico, hoping to gain a foothold in the Americas and thwart the territorial ambitions of the United States. When France had to withdraw its forces in 1866 to fight in Europe, the United States backed Juarez and Maximillian was captured and ended up in front of a firing squad. Juarez’s principal General Porfirio Diaz overthrew the Government in 1876 and became president the following year. He managed to remain President for 33 years till he was 80 and although he had brought stability to the country 90% of inhabitants lived in poverty, and were viewed as ‘a burden, an ignorant and lazy mass, who were meant to be oppressed, subjugated and exploited to death under the sun’. Revolution was in the air.

Francisco Ignacio Madera, the son of a landowner set up a political party in opposition to Diaz which led to him being arrested and he realised that armed struggle was the only option to overthrow Diaz and so began the Mexican Revolution on November 20th 1910. What began as a democratic movement to oust Diaz became a Socialist Revolution and two principal figures emerged, one in the South, ‘Pancho’ Villa and one in the North Emiliano Zapata. In the meantime, although Madera won elections, he couldn’t unite the opposing factions and the military, in the form of General Huerta had Madera assassinated and himself declared President. This outraged the two rebel leaders who took their respective armies into Mexico City and forced Huerta to resign in 1914. However they didn’t seize the initiative - and fighting broke out with other rebel leaders including Venustiano Carranza from Coahuila and Alvaro Obregon in Sonara. Villa was defeated by Obregon in 1915 and by 1916 was skirmishing across the border in the US eventually being pursued by General Pershing.

In 1917 Carranza laid down the basis of the current constitution. Meanwhile, war raged in Europe and Germany attempted to enlist Mexico’s help by promising them the return of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, if Mexico declared war on the United States and Germany won the war. Although the Mexican president didn’t take the offer seriously, the fact it was offered at all was a deciding factor in the United States joining the war. The Mexican revolution carried on, with the Zapatistas demanding social reforms from their base in Morelos until Zapeta was assassinated by Carranza in 1919.

Obregon turned against Carranza raising an army against him and had him assassinated.  This action brought the 10 year revolution to an end. Obregon in turn became president.

1.5 to 2 million people were killed roughly one in eight of the population and totally devastated the economy, however this has led to an abundance of beautiful banknotes at very modest prices and an intriguing area to collect – My collection has only just started


A short article from Graham

The trolley was heavily laid down with bags full of brass thruppenny bits (three-pence pieces), silver-coloured sixpences, bronze pennies and two shillings — it was not easy to pull it along in a busy high street even with a colleague pushing from the rear. At the same time as pushing and pulling, both of us kept checking that no bags or coins fell on the way. That day, we were taking the money to a competitor’s bank which was running low on its supply of hard cash.

Back in the 1960s, a one-penny coin measured 31 millimetres in diameter and weighed 10 grams. Before we decimalised in 1971, twelve pennies (12 pence) made up a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound. Hence 240 pence was the equivalent in monetary value of a one-pound banknote. There were no pound coins then, pound coins were not introduced in this country until 1983. Each of our 1960's cloth bags held the worth of five pounds, that's the equivalent of 1,200 pennies, or, in weight: 12 kilograms — the same as a dozen 2lb bags of sugar!

A trip to open up a small sub-office in the morning involved having a large suitcase of cash double-strapped to one wrist, while in our other hand we held a bank truncheon (a rounded heavy stick) to stave off attackers. We’d frequently travel in a local taxi where our usual driver, a portly gentleman I recall, would drive us very slowly while he smoked his pipe. We’d telephone the main branch to report we had arrived safely at our destination – having survived both attackers and the smoke!

Everyday use for coins back then was to feed a pay-as-you-go gas meter built into many homes. Most of these locked metal boxes were fed with shillings, and so it was essential to keep a well-stocked supply of these coins at home to ensure the heating stayed on. These meters would be emptied regularly and it was customary for people to buy-back from their meter-man (only men held that job in our area) the same set of coins they would empty, for re-use. Some would have been older, special specimens set aside to keep, but when the lights went out any coin would do in the rush to restore power. Sometimes on collection day the coins were exchanged for banknotes by mistake.

Ultimately coin bags of meter shillings would be paid in over the sub-office counter. As a cashier in the 1960’s I was then able to discover shillings dating back to the new coinage (1816-1820) of George third and those of Queen Victoria struck with ‘young head’ ‘jubilee head’ or ‘veiled head’.

There were Florins to be found of Edward VII, one pictured below, depicting Britannia standing - turned half-right towards us - holding an upright trident with an oval-shaped shield displaying the Union Jack, with the choppy waves of the sea behind her. She wears a Roman crested helmet, and her cloak stands out as if windswept.

A Florin of Edward VII

They say the model for Britannia was Lady Susan Hicks-Beach, the second daughter of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. The legend on this coin, dated on the ship’s prow 1905, is ‘ONE FLORIN TWO SHILLINGS’. To my mind, this coin by G.W. De Saulles is a beautiful piece of art which epitomizes the elegance of the Edwardian age.

The collecting of old money really began, when in 1966, a young bank cashier became attracted to the coins in the till. Graham Kirby


Past Events

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


Club Secretary.