January 31st 2023.    

Next club meeting Monday 6th February 2023.

·       Devon Pub Tokens By Neil Beaton

Monday 6th March 2023

·        Club Auction - for members only

Monday 3rd April 2023.

·         TBC By  Christopher Collects (Britannia Coin Company)

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



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 250 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.


January Meeting

January’s meeting was ‘Short Talks by Members’, there were five talks. Apologies were received from Tony and Henry.

The first talk was by Neil on 17th Century Tokens of Reading. Neil’s main interest in tokens are for those from Devon but he recognised that there are similarities between Reading and Devon tokens. In all there were 65 Reading tokens issued between 1652 and 1669. Neil reminded us that tokens came about because the Royal coinage stopped when Charles I was executed in 1649. The Tower mint had no work so the die sinkers etc who worked there went looking for work elsewhere. They started in London but later went further afield, reaching Reading in 1652. It is accepted thought now, that almost all 17th C tokens were made in London and it means there were necessarily salesmen going around the provinces. These salesmen would have had a ‘sample’ book from which designs could be chosen, as is clear from the number of times the same design turns up. There were some revolutionary aspects to the tokens, firstly (and for the first time ever) they were in English! Secondly, the issuer’s name would usually be in full, there would also be a design, specific to the business involved on  the coin, and the issuers initials and his wife’s (if he had one) would be on the back of the token, together with the name of the town or village where the business was based.

His first example was a chandler, illustrated using a method still employed today, dipping a candle 100 times in hot wax to build up the candle. Similar to Royal coinage from before, the legend starts at twelve O’clock with an initial mark and then goes clockwise. The initial mark was generally a five pointed mullet (star), an outer and an inner border and for the one third that aren’t dated, you can date the token from the borders. Next we had a token without a design, which Neil believes shows that there were a range of possible token designs, from basic to best, gradually increasing in price. After that we had the commonest ever 17C token, with the Grocers Arms, from the City Livery company as its design. A lot of the tokens used the badges of the Livery Company designs to show what they did. Interestingly, this token was issued by a lady. This tended to happen when the husband died or through inheritance. Spelling was freestyle in the 17C so there are many variations of Reading in the legends. Next was a token from Henry Head, with a picture of a plough, which means he was probably an ironmonger or similar. Neil had compared the tokens issued in Berkshire with other counties, revealing that Exeter had 6 different ironmongers, Reading none, whereas Reading had four or five bakers to Exeter’s none. Solomon Barnard had issued a token in Reading with a Rabbit design, from which we could garner that he was probably a supplier of game and the like, as opposed to being a butcher. In fact there are no butcher’s tokens for Reading.

There then followed a comprehensive selection of tokens, many of the illustrations taken from the British Museum’s digital archive, which can  be used for research purposes (the Ashmolean is doing something similar) Included were tokens from William Burley who had a hand holding a glove as his design, Richard Stockwell, a salt merchant, with a design of salt shakers, Henry Whitell, a cheesemaker, with a picture of a maid making cheese. The latter design appears on many tokens around the country and can be looked up in the Norweb collection annotated by Michael Dickinson. Next we had John Wilder (the elder) who issued two tokens at different times, followed by Moses Lamb, with a design of a pair of shears for trimming the nap off cloth. An example of varieties was given by two tokens for the King’s Arms by Henry Boad, both ostensibly the same, but clearly two different dies were used. A design featuring Reading Castle came next for William James. An unusual one was by (sic) Alce Gill, a baker. On this one the initial mark had eight points on the star. Two pub tokens followed with an Angel design for John Paice and a Cock for John Peters, clearly named after the taverns involved. A heart shaped token followed next, the only one of this shape for Reading. Issued by Hugh Champion, a linen draper, it would have been a relatively expensive token to produce, being entirely bespoke. This is one of four halfpenny tokens issued in Reading and Neil showed a second one by Richard Cottam, a distiller, showing a design of the distilling apparatus. Neil finished off the talk by showing us a token with no date, but which he can reliably assign to 1668 from the design alone.


Next Will treated us to a selection of tokens that he had collected over the years, parallel to his coin collection. We began with tokens from Western Australia that Will collected when he lived there. They are minted for locations of note in Western Australia and are only available from the locations. Australia being so large, makes assembling a collection of these tokens quite a road trip. In a similar vein, he presented medallions from famous sites in Paris (Eiffel tower, Musee Rodin etc..) which have traditionally been produced to illustrate the architecture of the city. Next we moved on to the ‘squashed’ pennies, which many places provide these days, though they cost much more than a penny! He showed us two that he had ‘minted’ himself from Prague as well as some from the machine in the Numismatic museum in Paris. Another set of interest were exchange tokens. These are issued often in tourist sites as a local currency with the intention of being exchanged for the material on sale. From his Aunt’s house in New York we had a complete set of Transit tokens, showing their evolution over the years. They are no longer used as everything is contactless these days. New Zealand prop suppliers to the Lord of the Rings films had produced a large number of ‘gold’ coins for a dragon hoard and are now selling them as ‘Dragon’s Gold’ to fans. At one of Will’s jobs in Australia, the custom was that you had to have a swim on your first Xmas with the firm. If you succeeded in this endeavour then you were awarded a silver coin from the Perth Mint with the company logo on the reverse. Back in England, we had a token from Will’s home town, Richmond, North Yorkshire, called the ‘Mayor’s audit money’ or the ‘Richmond Shilling’. It has been presented to members of the town since 1576, when Elizabeth I granted Richmond its charter. Originally it was given out to the poor but nowadays is given to over 60s in a ceremony where you meet the mayor. Will was at pains to point out that he had acquired this one from EBAY and had not yet qualified for his own. Will also had examples of replicas, which are often seen for sale in museums and the like. For last he showed us a set of tokens showing classic cars and a second set for the ‘Teenage Mutant Turtles’ going back to when he was 7.


After Will, Michael gave a talk on the use of gold for currency in Great Britain. Gold coinage was first introduced in this country by Edward III in 1344, in the form of a ‘Florin’, better known as a ‘Leopard’ from the design of the coin (there is also a double-leopard). The coin was based on the Florin made in Florence 1252. This coin was found to be wrongly tariffed for its weight and was withdrawn after only a few months. It was replaced by the noble, the ryal and the Rose noble and later by the Angel. A noble was 6/8d, or 80d, 20 groats. A ryal was 120d. In 1487 Henry VII introduced the ‘fine sovereign’ with a value of 30 shillings, essentially half an ounce of gold. It was also struck for Edward VI, Mary  and Elizabeth I.

In 1603, James I issued a sovereign but it only weighed 11.14grams and was valued at 20 shillings, the last time we had sovereigns until 1817, with the introduction of the famous Benedetto Pistrucci design of George and the Dragon. Over the last 200 years the sovereign has not changed in weight, size or carat of gold. There have been 18 different obverse types and up until 1989 only 4 reverse types. The reverse types consisted of two different shields and two different George and the Dragons, the latter having first been used for pattern coinage in 1820. For the two hundredth anniversary of the modern sovereign, the Royal Mint issued a design with a privy mark to the left of the date. They also issued proof coins with the first Pistrucci design, including the outer garter, whilst maintaining the normal George and the Dragon for bullion coins. The icing on the cake was the addition of 1817 ‘struck on the day (July 1st)’ sovereigns in Brilliant Uncirculated condition, complete with special certificate, one of which Michael had brought along to show.


Graham then proceeded with his talk on ‘Old Chestnuts’.

Grown men at the Oxford Frewen Club had an evening of playing conkers at the end of last year! Some bouts were over at a stroke, others took a little longer to get their eye in. Eventually the time came for the final to begin… after 5 minutes it was clear the conkers were well-matched. 10 minutes passed….20 minutes passed!    I never had a conker that lasted that long!... 30 minutes passed…. But when the final had been going for 40 minutes the chairman stepped forward to intervene and had a quiet word with the contestants. And they agreed to toss a coin to settle the result. The tension mounted and a small 5p coin was produced and tossed into the air… Before rolling under a cupboard…                                                                                                                       

What an anti-climax to such a long enjoyable evening. The situation of a draw had not been considered. And to use a tiddy coin to toss… the old Chestnut of Being Prepared had clearly been overlooked. One of the runner ups in the competition sought a remedy for the future….  The Frewen Club was founded in 1869, no doubt a date familiar with collectors of the Victorian 1d series because? So, later after returning home, he began an on-line search to check the cost of coins of that date - only to be taken aback by the cost, £150 even for a 1d, in Fine condition up to £6,000 for one in uncirculated condition. I received a few e-mails. Should he go for a coin other than a 1d or look for a cheaper penny for a later anniversary date?  My reply… You must stick to 1869 for such a long-established club, the 1d need not be in good condition, provided Victoria’s head could be distinguished and there was a clear date…  I had one he could have for £20. He was round within the hour cash in hand!

Just 3 more things to say; A small container is being purchased to contain the coin which will then be kept ‘under the bar’ ready to settle future disputes of any nature and a new tradition has been established at the Oxford Frewen Club. It was a great project to be involved with… and I have been promised dinner. So, thank you all for NOT purchasing that particular - worn bun-penny from my stock trays.


Lastly, but not least, we had Stuart to talk on coins from the Ottoman Empire. The first Ottomans were migrant warriors, who raided neighbouring communities. They started in Turkey but had Mongolian contacts and were around the Mediterranean, though not as far as Italy. You could be any religion but a Muslim was preferred. Having been Muslim, if you renounced your faith, you would be executed. After thirty years of raiding towns, there was a change to mountain sieges of large towns, starving enemies into submission. Following the capture of Bursa in 1326, the first Ottoman coins were minted in the name of Orhan Gazi. Murad I, who styled himself ‘Sultan’, which translates as ‘a man moving from tents to towns’ was the first head of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans of this time were very bloodthirsty, counting the success of campaigns by the number of heads cut off. If a Sultan died his eldest son would have to kill his younger brothers.


Stuart then went on to explain the way to arrive at the Christian date corresponding to the Hejira date on the coins. Firstly, the date on the coin is the date of accession, there is also a regnal year which needs to be added to the accession date, before conversion Secondly, Hejira dates use Lunar years, which are approximately 11 days shorter, so the Hejira date needs to be multiplied by approximately (354/365) or .97. Thirdly, Hejira dates are reckoned from when Mohammed fled from Mecca, which means (he fled halfway through the year) adding 621.57. Note that because the years are of different lengths, a Hejira New Year can be any day or month in the Gregorian Calendar. And don’t even ask about Leap years….


He showed us examples of the various Sultan’s coins, some of which were actually minted in Birmingham at the Heaton mint. A common feature on many of the coins is the Tughra which is in effect the official seal or signature of each particular Sultan. Ottoman coins ceased in 1923 with the dissolution of the empire, though Egyptian coins continued with the date system, though it also put the Gregorian date on too. Since no portraits are allowed on the coins, the emphasis on the coins was on calligraphy, producing some very beautiful artistic pieces.


Following a vote, Neil was awarded the Marc Myhill Memorial shield, well done Neil.

Answers to Michael’s Quiz

1           When was the Reading coin club founded ?  ½ point per answer.

Year: 1964                    Month: May 6th  (Michael Broome)                      ½ point per answer

2           The ‘new’ Charles III 50 pence has what reverse and when was that design LAST used?

            CIII Rev: 4 shields in cross shape       Rev. LAST used: 1960 (Crown)       ½ point per answer

3           Which are the scarcest currency Britannia  & Commemorative 50 pence according to R. M. mintages?

            Brit:  1985  (Mintage: 682,103)  Commem: 1992-93 E.E.C (mintage 109,000) – 2009 Kew (210,000)

4           There has been ONE Christmas coin issued by the Royal Mint in the UK. What date & denomination?

            Date: 2016                    Denomination:  £20.00                                          ½ point per answer    

5           What was the date of the British first base-metal decimal currency £1 Coin?         Date: 1983

6          How many sides does our new £1 coin have and similar to what other British coin?

            Sides: 12                      Other British coin: Brass 3d  (1937 – 1967)                        ½ point per answer

6           What did our first modern non-gold £5 commemorate and what was the date?

            Commemorative: Queen Mother’s 90th birthday          Date:  1990               ½ point per answer

8           From 1862 to 1967 Florins were made for currency every single year except for two years. When?  

What years ?     Year: 1927                    Year: 1934                                                 ½ point per answer

9            What coin got the nickname of “Bar-maids grief”. For how any years was it made?

            B-M grief: Double Florin         Years it was made (Dates from): 1887-1890    ½ point per answer

10         How many quarter farthings in £2.12.1d ?…………………………10,000

Answer any TWO sections

Section 1 (Earlier British Coins)

1A         The first halfcrown was issued in who’s reign and with what date?

            Reign: Edward VI                                  Date:  1551                                          

2A        Siege coins were made during Charles I civil war – but where?

            1: Carlisle (1644-45)                  2: Newark (1645-46)

3A        3: Pontefract (1648-49) 4. Scarborough (1644-45)                                 ½ point per answer       

4A        What was the face value of the BROAD and give any date that they were made or issued?

Value: 20 Shillings       ..          Date: 1656 & 1662                     ½ point per answer       

5A        During Elizabeth I reign the Tower Mint made coins for the “East India Company”

            The Obverse has E R & Royal Arms what was on the reverse & the denominations called?

            Denom. Testerns                      Called: Portcullis money                                    ½ point per answer

Section 2

(British Banknotes)

1B        Date & Month of last white £5 banknote?   Date: 1956     Month: September 20th    ½ point per answer

2B        Who is on the back of the last ‘paper  £5   Elizabeth Fry (Prison & social reformer 1780 - 1845)  

             £10: Charles Darwin                    ½ point per answer

3B        The Bank of England was founded in what year and who was the reigning monarch?

Year: 1694                                Monarch: William & Mary                                   ½ point per answer

4B        What was the highest denomination white note issued  for general circulation in the UK? 

Denomination:  £1,000.00   1725 (Madockes) - last 1936  (Peppiatt)

5B        What is the watermark on the first Bradbury issue notes ? GvR Royal Cypher stamp paper 1914

Section 3

(Foreign coins)

1C       Half Farthings & Third Farthings were issued for which countries?

            ½ Farthing:  Ceylon                   1/3 Farthing:  Malta                               ½ point per answer

2C        Edward VIII coins where issued for which countries and used as normal currency?          

            1: British West Africa - 1/10 d; ½ d & 1d      2. East Africa – 5 & 10 Cents

(3C)      3. Fiji – 1 penny                                    4. New Guinea – 1 penny                      ½ point per answer

4C        Where were Kissi Pennies & Bullet money made and used?

            Kissi: Sierra Leone                               Bullet: Thailand                        ½ point per answer

5C        Which country and in what year is there a Bird of Paradise on the obverse of the coin?

            Country: German New Guinea  Year: 1894 or 1895 (gold only)

Section 4

(Foreign banknotes)

1D       What country and denomination has SEX written on the front of their banknote?

            Country: Seychelles      Den:50 Rupees  (1 Jan. 1968 to 1 Aug. 1973)     ½ point per answer

2D        What is the highest denomination banknote ever issued for currency in the United States?

            Den: 100,000 Dollars. (Gold cert. 1934 – Discontinued in 1940 – WWII)

3D        Which country and in which year was the first 100 Billion (value) banknote issued?

            Country: Germany                     Year: 1923)                                                        ½ point per answer

4D        What was the first European country to issue banknotes and in what year?

            Country: Sweden              Year: (5 either side)  1657  (37 year before GB)           ½ point per answer

5D        What countries have ‘KIP’ & ‘DONG’ as their currency?

            KIP:  LAO                                  DONG:  VIETNAM                                            ½ point per answer


Section 5

(Greek & Roman) [Questions by Alistair Mackay]

1E        The coins of the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nimes) bearing the back-to-back portraits of

Augustus and Agrippa have the reverse type of a crocodile chained to a palm tree (an

unlikely device for a coin from France!), why?    Nemausus was granted colonial status.

The chained crocodile represented Augustus’s soldiers’ achievements in Egypt.

2E        From the reigns of Augustus to Gallienus the reverses of the base metal coins almost

invariably bear the letters SC, what do these stand for and why are they there?

Senatus Consultum – struck by the Emperor with the permission of the Senate

3E        From 328 to 340 a mint other than Constantinople used the letters CONST and similar as

a mint signature, where was this?

Arelate or Arles. Renamed Constantina in honour of Constantine II. Reverted after his death

4E        The personification Elpis occasionally appears on Greek coins and frequently on Roman

coins, by what name was she known as on Roman coins, and what did she represent?

Roman name:  Spes           Represent:  Hope                             ½ point per answer


5E        In the Attic weight system, widely used in classical Greek coins, how many obols were

there to the drachm? SIX (6)

Future Events.

Past Events

·         10 years ago – Short Talks by members.

Club Secretary.