After FIDEM in Gent and a stimulating visit to the Mauquoy mint and factory, we returned to a very busy few weeks in the UK. First there was our own medal auction, 20th century to the present day, which took place on 22 September. We achieved a top price of £1700 for Lynn Chadwick’s medal for BAMS, Diamond while the Chiparus Egyptian Musician bronze plaque (which normally adorns the pedestal of his 1925 Egyptian Dancer statue) made £770. Most of the medals were sold at much more affordable and modest prices, going world wide. Overall it was a reassuringly steady result in uncertain times.
Then straight into Coinex week with a plethora of auctions and of course the 2-day BNTA coin fair on Friday 30 Sept and Saturday 1 Oct. Although the fair clashed with the BANS (British Assoc. of Numismatic Societies) autumn congress there was a really good attendance on the Friday. This no doubt was helped by a liberal sprinkling of free entrance tickets from 1pm and the reduction in price of the early bird ticket from £50 to £30 (Note: organisers of BANS – please do better next year as regards timing!). Saturday too was busy for us and, having replenished the stock, we were pleased to see not only UK collectors but also overseas buyers.
Barely time to draw breath, what with the Baldwins and DNW auctions, and we were off to Token Corresponding Society’s Congress in Northampton the following weekend. Over 100 tokeners attended including dealers such as ourselves and a strong contingent of US collectors and dealers, eager to mop up choice 18th century Conder and other tokens. Howard gave a talk on taxation and tokens – it’s not always spelled out on the metal check how it relates to the payment of tax. It’s the subject of an article all by itself – to follow on this blog later.
This year there seemed to be much on the subject of engraved pieces including Andrew Wager’s talk on the various types of these personalised, adapted coins. Be warned, not every engraved memento is a convict token! And it would seem that there was a thriving business in crafting pieces for others as opposed to the old sailor’s pastime of engraving his own ship on a coin. Of course we have a few in our current token auction like the lawyer’s advert for Mr Yarp (lot 655) and the London Elephant token (lot 652) which quite possibly refers to the birth of Prince Charles, the Young Pretender, in 1720 – making a rare link of sorts between Scottish Jacobite loyalty and US colonial early coinage.
Visitor from Belgium, Linda Everaert gave not one but two papers – the first on Natiepenningen, the unionised pay checks of the Port of Antwerp,
and the second paper on foundling tokens, comparing the practice in Belgium with that of the Foundling Hospital in Coram’s Fields, close by our old gallery in central London. The Foundling Museum there is well worth a visit. Next year the congress will be in Warwick, first weekend in October. Oh, and yes, Congress managed to drink 4 barrels of of excellent beer donated by Baldwins and all the wine on the Saturday donated by DNW. So thank you both companies. Congress is a full-on weekend of talks, food, and good company so if you’re interested in tokens, do come along. There’s also a small auction for the Token Society’s funds and a bourse after the dinner on the Saturday – expect to be dealing well after your usual bedtime.
Our next outing will be to the London Coin Fair on 5 November at the Holiday Inn where the current token auction can be viewed. This is always a good event even though it falls on Bonfire Night this year so get there early. In past years some dealers packed up after lunch with the lame excuse that they were responsible for the fireworks later. There were verbal fireworks from me on that when I used to organise LCF years ago! If you are intending to visit do let us know beforehand. It really helps with packing for the fair.
Finally, the coin trade and collecting is all about people, and for the moment we can hardly keep up with the changes in staff at the larger auction houses. So with several of Baldwins staff having moved to Sovereign Rarities (no longer auctioneers but dealers), new staff replacing them on the Strand and more changes elsewhere yet to be confirmed, fairs are a good way of catching up with people. Looking forward to seeing you at the fair on 5 November.