October 26th 2021.

Monday 1st November.

·        Deal or No Deal? Experiences of coin dealing. By Graham Kirby.

Monday 6th December.

Monday 10th January.

Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.




·         The annual Christmas Dinner will be arranged for 18th December 2021 at the usual pub - The Cunning Man, Burghfield Bridge, if enough people let us know they wish to attend.

·         Please continue thinking about Short Talks for January, and Auction lots for March!

·         Once again we will invite those people who contacted the club whilst it was ‘Zoom only’ to the next meeting. If you see someone you don’t recognize at the meeting, please direct them to myself or Peter.

·         Harry has some Brexit 50ps if anyone wants one. He has a special price, 50p each or two for a pound 😊.


October Meeting

Apologies were received from Harry and Derek.

John opened the meeting, thanking everyone for turning up, twenty one in number despite the difficult times, including some people we had not seen for a while. He also welcomed one potential new member who had heard about us on the internet. News that the club is open again is gradually getting out there.

There then followed a discussion about the parking spaces that the church have so kindly allowed us the use of. Unfortunately there is no perfect arrangement that allows for the spaces to be fairly allocated or anyone to ensure the management of the spaces whilst the meeting is happening. Certainly with the committee so short of people there is no spare capacity within the committee to take on any more roles. The only space allocation we could all agree on was for a visiting speaker, so for the moment parking remains a problem.

An airplane on the runway

Description automatically generated with low confidenceJohn then introduced our own Alastair Mackay to give a talk on Gibraltar’s Currency. He began by outlining the history of the ‘Rock’.

Gibraltar is a rocky projection some 1300 feet high off the South coast of Spain. Its name dates back to 8th Century Moors who controlled the territory and much of Spain up until the 14th and 15th centuries. Spain only had possession of Gibraltar for about 250 years, less than the British have held it as a British Overseas territory (like the Falklands). In Antiquity it is referred to as one of Pillars of Hercules. It has a population of around 30,000, with an additional 12,000 daily workers from Spain. The main industries are tourism, online gambling & financial services.

Alastair then went on to explain how Gibraltar had changed hands over the centuries, starting with an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704, through the treaty of Utrecht 1713-15, when England, amongst other things, got Gibraltar. There followed the ‘Great Siege of 1779-83 when Spain recaptured Menorca and Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar in 1805.

Gibraltar’s population was evacuated to Jamaica during WWII and Gibraltar was only bombed once in the second World war by the Vichy French, for Gibraltar’s part in the sinking of the French fleet in North Africa.

More recently, a referendum to join Spain was held on 10th September 1967, comprehensively rejected by 12138 to 44 votes, and now celebrated as Gibraltar National day. The UN General Assembly criticised the referendum and requested Britain to enter negotiations with Spain, who closed the land border in 1969. During this time, even the water supplies were cut off and water was collected in corrugated iron on the East side of the Rock, later replaced by desalination plants. After Franco died in 1975, Spain returned to a monarchy and the border reopened in 1985, with Spain joining the EU in 1986. In the 2016 Brexit vote, 19,322 voted to stay in, 823 to leave.

He then went on to discuss the currency issued. Initially Spanish Reales and British currency circulated along with some token issues in early 19th Century.

A picture containing text, coin

Description automatically generatedAlastair then showed the first official Gibraltar coins, the ½ , 1 and 2 Quart coins from 1842. Sterling became legal tender in 1898, previously only Spanish coinage was used, though not the banknotes. Gibraltar banknotes were issued as an emergency measure at the start of WWI and are extremely rare and valuable, Bank of England notes came in WWII and remain to this day. The first series of notes were very easily copied and were quickly replaced by a second issue, with inscriptions in English and Spanish. Interestingly, later notes from Series C (which included  a picture of ‘The Rock’) are actually signed by – ‘Alastair Mackay’ – though no further details of this namesake are available. The Peseta was used concurrently up until the start of WWII.

Alastair then went on to show a variety of notes, including some which were never issued such as the 1938 Two shilling, before moving on to the Constitutional series, issued from 1975 to 1988. Alastair showed some from the last issue, bearing the date 4th August, the anniversary of the capture of Gibraltar by an Anglo Dutch force in 1704. Its reverse shows the Governer’s Residence and Alastair had up to date pictures of the building with guards from the visiting Scot’s Guard regiment – Busby’s in 35°C heat!

 A fifty pound note from 1986 had a larger image of the Rock from the South.

Next came the History & Heritage issues, one of which showed an image of Tarik Ibn Zeyad, a Moorish general who conquered Spain in 711. The name Gibraltar is a translation of Tarik’s Mountain – Gebel Tarik.

Others showed notable people such as Nelson, who was brought ashore after Trafalgar and Churchill who stayed at the Rock hotel. A second series celebrated events such as the cable car to the Rock and the 300th anniversary of British rule, with the third series including such things as the Great Siege 1779 – 1783 and the Battle of Trafalgar. Finally, in the notes, we had a souvenir ten shilling note, issued in 2018 and redeemable for 50p, though it cost Alastair £4.

Moving on to coins, Alastair revealed that the coins are minted at the Pobjoy mint but follow the UK in denominations. There have been an enormous number of different types issued over the years, several with mintages as low as 250, so clearly designed for the ‘collector’ market and not intended for circulation.

A close-up of a coin

Description automatically generatedSome of the Christmas fifty pences change hands for £2-300. The Great Siege is one of the events commemorated on the two pound coin of 1988-1997 and Alastair showed pictures of the Siege tunnels and recommended visiting if you go to the Rock. He then showed a series of one pound coins, including one to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Queen’s first visit to the Rock, and another the 50th Anniversary of the referendum. There seems to be no pattern to the topics chosen for the commemorative reverses. He followed this by showing several of the fifty pences, including one of the Christmas pieces from 1988, one with dolphins, which can be seen off the coast and another of the famous Barbary Macaque, the only wild monkey in Europe and now the subject of considerable conservation treatment after it was discovered that they were developing bad habits from being around tourists. Next came the twenty pence pieces, including one with a bunch of keys, alluding back to when Gibraltar was seen as the key to Spain back in Moorish times and one displaying the Candytuft plant. Continuing on through the ten pences, with one commemorating Operation Torch 1942 – the Invasion of French Vichy held North Africa, when Eisenhower was headquartered in Gibraltar and another for the Great Siege, showing the harness used to enable the cannons to be fired down onto Spanish works on the isthmus. On the fivepences we had one showing the Dama de Noche flower and a two pence showed the Europa Point Lighthouse, for which Alastair had a current photograph.


A coin with a person's face on it

Description automatically generated with low confidenceSo finally we arrived at the humble penny, adorned with a Barbary Partridge, again accompanied by a picture of the real thing and a last penny with the Barbary Macaque celebrating the 300th year of British Rule from 2004. The talk was accompanied by books, mainly about the banknote issues.

There followed a general discussion about Gibraltar, as it seemed several of the members had visited in the past. Alastair had also noticed a very patriotic air about the Rock, with for example, the more recent coins having ‘Queen of Gibraltar’ as part of the legend, even maintaining a youthful portrait of the Queen, similar to British ‘Bun’ pennies of Victoria. We finished with a discussion of some of the rarer 50p pieces.


Thank you to Alastair for an exceedingly well researched and illustrated talk, given at short notice.


Future Events.


Past Events

·         10 years ago - Chris and Rachel Moore - Is This Money?!

·         20 years ago – “Early Tudor Coinage” – Joe Bispham

·         40 years ago – A joint meeting with the Reading Philatelic Society

Club Secretary.