Aug 5th 2021. 

Upcoming club meetings:

·        Subject – Summer Social. It seems we will all be allowed out once again so we are hoping to hold the Summer Social at Peter’s house on Saturday 14th August 14-30 onwards. Note that this will be an outdoor event, especially in view of Covid and if the weather is against us, we may need to cancel at short notice.


Committee members

It really is time we had new members on the committee. Peter is about to assume more responsibilities with the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators and will have less time to devote to the Coin Club. The current committee members have been doing the job for far too long and could do with a rest. There are very few physical committee meetings these days, not due to Covid but because most of the work is done electronically, so the job should not take up too much of anyone’s time. A committee is vital to the running of the club and there will be no club if there is no committee.


Letter in Coin News

The letter I sent to Coin News that disappeared has finally been published in the July edition. I was extolling the virtues of the club and pointing out that we were still very much in business. I have received about a dozen enquiries from people about the club since our last physical meeting.


July Meeting

This began with a very quick AGM. The main points were

1)      Apologies from Alastair and Gavin

2)      Ian asked if there has been any progress with parking arrangements for the club. The answer is no, currently we have no concessions for club members and frankly very little chance of getting any. The church cannot help us.

3)      Neil re-elected as auditor

4)      Gavin re-elected as President

5)      Subs to stay the same but also to be waived for current members in the 21-22 Season.


We then proceeded to John’s talk on ‘Birds on Small Coins’. He writes

‘This is one of those odd tangential things that happen when you collect coins. As previously reported, I don’t collect foreign coins, I just seem to accumulate them.

Occasionally, I even see some I think have nice designs and one such theme has been birds on small coins. From my Irish roots and the ‘Animal’ series of coins to remembering being able to buy a chew with a wren 1/4d I developed a minor interest in small coins with images of birds on. Since doing a tiny amount of research into this idea when I realised that I was going to have to give this talk, I have found that the subject is probably big enough to devote an entire book to it – maybe one day?

Possibly you could start with some Celtic coins as seemingly feathers were sometimes used as decorations and depicted on the coins but I think the best known one is the Athenian Owl. The owl represented the Greek Goddess of wisdom, Athena, no doubt giving us our ‘wise old owl’.

In my own collection of course the wren 1/4d is my small bird, designed by Harold Wilson Parker. Coin News has obviously heard I was going to give this talk and so they had an article on ‘HP’ in their current edition pointing out that the design was originally submitted for the Edward VIII 1937 (silver) threepence, though Parker had originally meant it for the farthing. Sadly, these much loved at the time coins are now regarded as uninteresting by the majority of collectors. Like the others in my bird’s series, it is also a short series, 1937-56.

The next series I came across was from my travels in America, the ‘flying eagle’ cents. This is a very short series 1856-1858 and even the 1856 is really a pattern, never officially issued. The design was by James Longacre, the chief engraver at Philadelphia but heavily based on the earlier Christian Golbrecht design for the silver dollar. The design also influenced Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the design of the double eagle. The eagle in question is the ‘bald headed eagle’ the national bird of America. Incidentally, it’s not actually bald, it’s just that its white head looks bald against the black colouring of the rest of the bird. The coin is made of cupro-nickel rather than in bronze. I have a drinks coaster somewhere with the 1856 flying eagle on one side and the 1877 Indian head on the other, two key dates for collectors of the US ‘penny’ series.

Another series that caught my eye was the South African farthings, the longest of my bird series, 1923-1960 and with this one you get two for the price of one! The design, by Kruger Gray features two cape sparrows, facing each other. Some of the dates are very scarce and hard to find. Wikipedia explained the design as originating with women interned at a concentration camp during the Boer War when they adopted a biblical quotation as their motto: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." (Matthew 10). The use of the sparrows extended into the ½ and 1 cent coins up to 1996.

Next we have the Irish farthing series, designed by Percy Metcalfe, featuring a woodcock, 1928-1966. Part of the iconic Irish Animal series, these coins have become quite collectable in recent years and you can expect to pay up to £5 for some of them. The choice of animal for each coin was decided by committee, chaired by W.B. Yeats. The woodcock was chosen for the farthing, itself being a small bird and a very important game bird in country life. The shape of the bird in flight is cleverly designed so that there is room for both the 1/4d and ‘Feoirling’ (farthing) legends.

And lastly from me in this list we come to the New Zealand 6d. I came across these while sorting out some coins at my local charity shop. The design is the (female) Huia bird, by our old friend Kruger Gray 1933-1965. The Huia bird was famous for its fabulous tail feathers, so much so that they went extinct in the 1970s due to hunting and loss of natural habitat.

On mentioning this talk I have had more ideas for coins, the following from Michael. I have to thank Mr. Google for a lot of the description of the coins, along with K&M.

The 1 cent coin from the British Virgin Islands, another short series, 1973-1985. It displays two hummingbirds, common in the area, the greenthroated carib and the Antillean crested hummingbird. It was designed by Gilroy Roberts most famous for designing the obverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar.

Next we have a ten cent from Barbados 1973-1992. The bird is a gull (probably a Laughing Gull) flying left, engraved by Philip Nathan who also designed coins for the Royal Mint, including some of the Britannia coins. The Central Bank of Barbados identifies the bird as a tern but this is incorrect as terns have a forked tail.

Another 1 cent coin, this time from Belize (British Honduras) 1974-1985. The design is a Swallow-tailed kite part of the avifauna of Belize. The Belize coins were designed by British medallist Michael Rizzello who amongst other things designed the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 1995 along with the two pound coin for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations.

Here we have a sixpence from Malawi 1963-1967. It shows a picture of a rooster and was engraved by Paul Vincze who also designed a medal for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. The design continued as the 1 Tambala till 1994. Tambala is the Chichewa word for a rooster.

And to finish, a bird on a truly small coin, from Will. Anyone any ideas what this is?’


John finished the talk by thanking Michael and Will for there ideas of additional coins for the talk. Also Mr Google, Wikipedia, EBAY and his own 1998 1901- edition of K&M for most of the information in the talk.


After the talk, Graham pointed out that his mum had a connection with a small bird, having been a WREN in the second World war. Graham had taken her to the National Arboretum shortly before she died at the great old age of 103, where they had seen the memorial to the WRENs - a large bronze model of a wren.

Will pointed out that the name ‘Bald’ eagle could have been a corruption of the Old English ‘balde’ meaning white and as used in terms such as piebald.

Michael had seen some of the small coins similar to Will’s but said that although they had some gold in them there was too little weight to be of any true value.

Neil reminded us that a Token Congress was going to take place on the 10th July, a sign that things are returning to some sort of normal. On a similar theme Graham said that anyone planning to attend the Birmingham Coin Fair would need to register in advance.


Carrying on with the ‘Bird’ theme, here’s another article from Peter Hall


Birds on Imperial Roman coins


Imperial Roman coins do not generally have bird portraits, emperors being more interested in victories and the personification of a range of concepts, such as hope. Referencing in literature include eating – sparrows and ostriches, for example. Caged song birds were popular in urban communities.


However, there were two exceptions: eagles and peacocks, for the following reason.


One important aspect of Roman religion, particularly for the imperial family, was the concept of consecration, the process by which a deceased person became a divine being and was transported to the divine realm to join the pantheon of gods. The eagle of Jupiter or the peacock of Juno carried the departed emperor/ empress to the heavens.

Divus Hadrian AR Antoninianus. Struck under Trajan Decius, 251 AD. DIVO  HADRIANO, radiate head right / CONSECRATIO, eagle standing right, head  left. RSC 1509. * Sear RCV 9472 *


Emperor Hadrian died in AD 138


The use of this iconography started in the early 2nd century and came to an end with the issues of Valerian for his deified wife, Mariniana. Her antoniniani depict the peacock of Juno flying right, bearing the Empress on its back, as well as standing facing, with its head facing left. Mariniana died circa AD 253.


Roman provincial tetradrachms from Antioch (Syria) and Alexandria also carried an eagle reverse. Interestingly, the coins often carried the regnal year of the emperor.


This tetradrachm was minted in Antioch for Phillip II who ruled (under Phillip I, his father) between AD247-249.


Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His primary sacred animal was the eagle, which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus.


The eagle remained a popular smaller icon until the AD320s. For example, seen here on the reverse of a follis of the emperor Licinius minted in Siscia, offering a wreath to Jove (Jupiter).



Future Events


Past Events

·         10 years ago – “Brown Roman Coins” – Peter Hall

·         20 years ago – “Horsemen of Charles I Half Crowns” – Maurice Bull

·         40 years ago – “English Copper Coinage” – Mrs. Monica Bushel