Simmons Gallery has had a very successful year with our very specialised bid auctions for tokens, medals and weights. Described not as small but as ’boutique’ (!) auctioneers by one collector, we held 5 auctions, 3 of them in the autumn and hope to do something similar in 2017 – consignments of collections, accumulations and spares welcome. Contact us first though before sending.
MB79 threw up some notable prices. The one which surprised us all was lot 803 Cameroon as a German Colon – Kamerun. This tax token came from Ossidinge, a district in the south west now called Mamfe. With a starting price of 50, Howard knew it was good and expected it to go for more than estimate but the piece was unknown and achieved £916. We also discovered that there’s now a reference book on German Colonial Tokens by Nils Leipner: Marken und Token der ehemaligen deutschen Kolonien (contact us if you would like to order copies). Our auction token is related to the first entry in the book also octagonal and made of aluminium.
In other series there were some stellar prices, e.g. some pub and mining tokens were well fought over although low grade/common ones went for small prices. It’s still possible to put together an interesting collection without breaking the bank. That applies to an awful lot of token series.
Stories abound: we weren’t sure about lot 222 I*H or possibly H*I on one side with bear claws arms holding a crescent crest, bronze 24mm. possibly a mining token. Subsequently information came in from two collectors who knew of this token which bears some similarities to the crest used on the Hensingham Colliery token of Cumbria. One was sure that it was 18th century coming from an estate in Sandwich, Kent so not mining. But the other had done more digging and had found the following family crest too, John Harvey Kent, two bear’s paws erased and erect ermines supporting a crescent erminois (see note 1). A brewer yet there was a mining connection as he was in the copperas region of Kent. So stylistically it looks more like mining rather than farming or a hop token. Still not absolutely nailed but the token is still in a mining collection after this auction.
Lot 500 was a pub check for the Red Lion Inn in Blacksnape – a typical Victorian style with the young head obverse.
Up until 2013, this pub on the Roman Road (Watling Street) just outside Blackburn was a typical village pub. It was threatened with closure and a battle ensued. By 2015 it had been given a reprieve and had been declared an Asset of Community Value by the Council. This is unusual as many of the pub closures of the past few years have resulted in new flats or other developments.
Lots of plastic tokens this time. Apart from the Chilean mining tokens (a good group!), we had a red plastic token from Cheshire for soup (lot 566).
During the Second World War there was a system of rationing and the Ministry of Food needed to set up a series of centres for feeding people. This resulted in Local Authorities setting up British Restaurants in many towns and cities. Plastic tokens were used in many places. These were used as pre-payment was needed as there was a need to scrutinise ration cards before food was distributed. This example from Sandbach in Cheshire has not been seen by collectors before.
The series of minting trials, medals and tokens provoked much interest, especially the Royal Mint trials. It is unusual to be able to offer such a group and collectors realised this. Do take a look at the corrections and addenda page on the website for extra bits of information that came our way after the catalogue went to press.
Beyond our office, there have been many changes in the numismatic world in London and the UK this year. For those of you who don’t know, yet more of Baldwins numismatic staff from Adelphi Terrace have gone from Stanley Gibbons and are now with Sovereign Rarities while Seth Freeman is off to Heritage. Baldwins have acquired Neil Paisley from Colin Cooke. Phil Skingley’s left Spinks recently while David Erskine-Hill has moved back from DNW. The latter acquired most of Spinks military experts. Bewildered? can’t keep pace? feels like musical chairs? we know the feeling. Rest assured we’re still here, still working and hoping to have some extra help in the new year too in order to serve you better. Happy New Year!
- Fairbairns Book Of Crests Of The Families Of Great Britain And Ireland (Vol. 2, Plate 62.3) linked with several names including Harvey