Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Related Collectible

This is probably from the English region of Kent.  The man who found it was from Birmingham, but his heirs said that he worked almost exclusively in eastern Kent.
The people, (Britons) before the Roman conquest are often referred to as Celts, and when they were eventually driven west and north by the much later Anglo Saxons and Vikings, they continued to be called Celts.  They ended up along the Atlantic coast of Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and in much of Ireland.  This is only a grand fiction however.  There is not a drop of Celtic blood in the Celts of Great Britain.  The Celts(in the beginning called Celtoi by the Greeks) were a people of central Europe...Germany, Austria, Switzerland and into central-eastern France.  The rest of the so called Celtic tribes were more trading partners, and peoples who, in order to trade with the Celts and the Celtic speaking Greeks and Etruscans, learned Celtic, and adopted many facets of the Celtic culture.  Art literature, language itself, customs and religion were readily adopted as they were all to great advantage in a huge trading sphere that covered much of Europe and into the middle east and Russia.

The Cantiaci or Cantii lived in Kent, called Cantium by Caesar..  Their capital was Durovernum Cantiacorum, which is present day Canterbury.

This piece is silver, engraved and heavily patinated, and found near a village that was dated to the 2nd Century BC.  It is not a coin, but was probably a religious object or amulet.  Unfortunately this becomes a "catch all" term for anything that they do not know the reason for,.  The front is a nice patinated gray, while the back is a nice soft silver, probably from sitting in a cloth display and being regularly slid around on the cloth surface.

This is deeply engraved on a silver blank, and it took many man hours to make the disk and then to engrave the piece.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Monarchs Not Included.

I do not include in this collection of coins from the crowned kings and queens of England, a coin struck in the reign of the Empress Matilda(mother of Henry II) or of Edward V(one of the so called Princes in the Tower)
When Henry I died, Matilda had control of much of the country off and on...had a good claim to the throne...and minted coins, but she was never crowned.  Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud, especially in Normandy.

Edward V, while proclaimed king, and minted coins, was never crowned, and was probably murdered in the Tower of  London.  Lets get something straight right now.  Most people think of a king as being king after they are crowned.  I cling to this idea when I realize that a coin from Edward V will cost the earth, if I can find one.  The fact is a little different though.  In England, The king is proclaimed.  He is then king..Who proclaims him is a mystery to me, but it is a fact that a king need not be crowned to be considered king in England.  Lady Jane Grey was not proclaimed queen, but she was not the queen.  Louis was proclaimed king but never crowned, so he was  the king, were it not for the treaty he agreed to.

Louis of England, who invaded England during the truncated reign of John was never crowned and indeed, he acknowledged that he was never really king.  I have actually purchased one of his coins, but certainly not from his reign in England. Also, he was only the Dauphin of France at the time, so nothing was minted in France during this time period.  The coin I have is from his later reign in France...still fun to have.

Edward VIII though I have included him for interest's sake was never crowned, and did not issue coins that were put into circulation in England.  What a boob this guy was!  The Queen's idiot uncle!

If I have the ambition someday, I may look for coins from these people(I have a coin from Edward VIII, and will post it, but it is not from England). The only true coins from Edward were six(I think) gold coins minted on a trial basis that are now worth millions of pounds. Filling in these empty spots will depend on how much they may cost, as all will be quite rare.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Movies That Might Help to Illustrate Who These People Were

William the Conqueror:
The Warlord starring Charlton Heston  Good for costumes and for attitudes, nothing about William himself.

Stephen and Matilda:
The miniseries: Pillars of the Earth  A point of view by peasantry, but some glimpses of society and the lives of Stephen and Matilda and the havoc they wreaked.  The book is a better choice.

Henry II:
A Lion in Winter with Peter O'Toole and Catherine Hepburn... lots of departures from history, but a good taste of the time period and personalities.
Becket with Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton

Richard and John:
Ivanhoe one with Robert Taylor and one by A&E
Robin Hood with Errol Flynn
Kingdom of Heaven  with Orlando Bloom

Edward I:
Braveheart with Mel Gibson

Henry VIII:
The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth    with Charles Laughton
A Man For All Seasons   Paul Scofield and Richard Shaw
Anne of the Thousand Days    Genevieve Bujold and Richard Burton

Elizabeth 1:
Elizabeth Cate Blanchett
Elizabeth The Golden Age  Cate Blanchett
Shakespeare in Love  with Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, though a comedy, it gives a feeling of the times.
Mary Queen of Scots  Vanessa Redgrave

Charles I :
Cromwell with Richard Harris and Alec Guiness

Charles II:
Restoration  with Robert Downey Junior   Though a comedy, it gives a feeling of the time.

George III:
The Madness of King George with Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren

Victoria and William IV:
The Young Victoria  with Emily Blunt

George VI:
The King's Speech with Colin Firth

Elizabeth II:
The Queen  with Helen Mirren

Then there are the Shakespeare plays in cinema:
Henry V, Henry VI, Richard III

Go to YouTube and search for the names of the king or queen, or search for History of the Kings and Queens of England a great series and not too long and drawn out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Missing posts.

For some reason, some posts are not showing up in order.  Simply go to the menu to the right, click on June and see the list of posts there.  You can click on them directly there.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Good Early Coin

Ok, so first of all, this coin has qualities unique to the particular coin that makes it better, but the general attributes are some that you should look for in all investment coins.  This Edward IV Groat is fairly evenly placed on the blank.  Not off center.  There is a little wear that loses some detail, but it does not appear to be clipped.  There is some lettering that is very close to the edge, or it may be worn off.  It has a nice even patina all over.  The impression is nice and crisp, with only a few wear marks and dings that marr the pattern, but those could just as easily be in the original die.   Was that in the die(you would have to see a number of other identical coins to know) and the right eye of the obverse is a bit sleepy. The right side pattern is a bit blurred.  That could just be the die being held a bit off straight when the hammer struck.   But, with the even patina, this all occurred very early in  the life of the coin.
A wonderful coin and offered in  the $1100 dollar range including shipping.  I cannot afford such a coin, but then I am not really searching for investment grade coins.
Edward was the father of the pinces in the tower.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

About My Scholarship.

I am giving you a brief commentary on each of the monarchs in the Royal line of England and Great Britain.
This is just as much for fun as the collecting of the coins I will show you.  The comments about the kings and queens are by no means scholarly.  They are just there to put the individuals into a place in history, to perhaps enlighten you as to why the coin may be cheap or dear. 
If you truly want to know about these remarkable and sometimes hateful people, you should look them up on Wikipedia for brief biographies.

Harry and I are working on a Shepherd's Hut for my niece, similar to a tiny house on wheels, but a little more open and English in flavor.
Also, on You Tube, there are a couple of fine series' from BBC about the kings and queens of England and Great Britain. 
There is also a great series of books by Thomas Costain that will enlighten you in a very entertaining way.  These were written some time ago and might reflect opinions that differ from today's, but their entertainment value is still great, as are all his books.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A New Obsession - A Collection of Coins From the Reigns of the Crowned Rulers of England and Great Britain

As I become more informed about my British/Canadian/Welsh/Norman/Danish family, I have increased my interest in English/British history. 
With the recent flurry of interest in Richard III, and rewriting his story, the monarchy running from William the Conqueror to the present has been much on my mind.  If you read a bit in my family history blog: ,you will discover that my family in several branches arrived in England with William, and were well documented down through the centuries till they came to America in the 1620s, and landed in Canada after fleeing from the revolutionaries in the US. (burned out of two different houses, one in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and one in White Plains, New York before they decided that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick looked interesting.).

Anyway, I decided that it would be fun to collect coins from all the monarchs of England and Great Britain. 
I am by no means an expert, and may never actually complete the collection, because some of them are priced stratospherically, and some are virtually unattainable( think of the little princes(Edward V and his brother{Richmond} in the Tower of London, and how long he was king and in the position to make coins.)
I will try to communicate all that I learn about these coins, and to give you a few tips on collecting old coins as I learn them.
You have to understand too, that I am not doing this for the investment value.  I just love the idea of doing it.  I do not have the resources to buy the best coins available, and it is likely that many will be terrible coins, as best are available but out of most any one's price range really. 
Well, more on all that later, how to buy, what to buy and how to take care of them will follow eventually. 
I love this coin with the symbols of the four consolidated countries of Great Britain.  The rose for England, the thistle for Scotland, the shamrock for Ireland and the leek for Wales.  A sixpence is traditionally placed in the shoe of a bride on her wedding day.
Already, as of this writing, I have  almost all of the different monarchs collected, leaving only 1 more to buy...probably a pretty difficult one to find.  I have also purchased an Interregnum coin of Oliver Cromwell, who does not figure as a sovereign or as my total of coins collected. Some of the list were king two times, and though it would be nice to have one coin for each reign, I will be satisfied with one for each of the 38 kings or queens(crowned and ruling), no matter how many times they were on the throne.  I also do not count those who were never crowned.  That may save me from having to find that elusive Edward V, and Edward VIII may not be represented as he only had coins from outside the country by the time he abdicated. Although, some Commonwealth coins are shown.
Also, my English family history goes back only to William the Conqueror, so earlier Saxon kings and queens will not be included.  I probably could not afford them anyway...William is expensive enough, but earlier...God help me! Let me rephrase that.  I do have earlier history in my family in the Welsh line, and likely, if I eventually follow every line, I will go right back to the beginnings of royalty in England.

English Kings Prior to William the Conqueror

Coins are available for all the kings listed here and many of the kings of portions of the country that precede them. Even earlier roman coins are available for the Caesars and for governors of the province of Britannia.
I could probably list a hundred kings of England if I were not too fussy about it.  There were kings of fractions of the country for centuries, but in order to call a king: King of England, I would say that most of the country would have to be included.  There are probably coins available from many of these kings, but do they qualify as collectibles for the purpose I am proposing here.
I have included photos of coins available on line at this writing.  This proves that this is an expensive hobby.  Some less desirable coins will run as low as $500, but many cannot be had for less that $3500 and most run up to $4-6000.  Further research might get you less beautiful and less clear coins for a more reasonable price.  In all cases the coin is above the caption.

This coin was not available at this post date.
Egbert 802-839  Egbert was king of Wessex, he campaigned to add Mercia, which controlled many counties of sub political units in the south.  When he defeated Offa(of Offa's dike fame) he was referred to as ruler of England. He had the submission of Northumbria which he was not king of, but dominated.  So..I guess he qualifies.

Aethelwulf  839-855 Went on pilgrimage to Rome and returned to find that of his two sons, Aethelbald would not give up the portion in the west that he had been administering while Aethelwulf was gone...So the kingdom was divided.  When Aethelwulf died, they continued divided till Aethelbald died, and Aethelbert rejoined the two halves.

This coin was not available at this post date.
Aethelbert 860-866 He ruled the joined kingdoms after his brother died and in fact joined all the ruled territories into one kingdom instead of separate units ruled by one king.

Aethelred I 866-871 the fourth son of Aethelwulf  and older brother of Alfred the great, ruled and lost portions of the kingdom to the Danes(Vikings) and was not recognized by all as the king of England, but since he was living in an England that was divided as much as ever into kingdoms, he deserves the name as much as the predecessors.
Alfred the great 871-899 He reabsorbed the lost territory from his older brother's reign, and called himself king of the Anglo Saxons. Championed education in the kingdom and was a learned and merciful man himself.  Much improved the legal systems in the country. regained most land that had been taken by the Vikings over many years.
Eadward I the elder 899-924  Eadward was not sure to become king.  He was not the eldest choice of all the candidates. Wrangling of inheritances and political moves eventually made him the choice over others. Fighting over the succession and with the Vikings in York ensued. He and his sister added to area ruled till he controlled all south of the Humber river.  He gained complete control of Mercia after his sister died, as she was queen of Mercia by marriage. 
Aethelstan 924-939
He was second in line after his half brother in Wessex and accepted immediately by the Mercians.  His half brother died within months and he became king in Wessex, though there was some resistance.  He defeated York, the last Viking kingdom and became king of all England, though it would not last after his death and York would have to be reconquered later. 
Eadmund the magnificent 930-946  Northumbria was conquered by king Olaf and Eadmund reconquered them. he was murdered by Leofa, an exiled thief. Edmund had conquered Strathclyde, but returned it to Scotland, assuring the Scots of secure borders and they then remained allied with the English.   
Eadred  946-955
Olaf again tried to re-establish himself in the north as had other Scadinavian princes.  Eadred finally defeated them all and regained York.  He died at 32 and childless and was succeeded by his nephew.

Eadwig all-fair 955-959 ruled only four years amid disputes with the nobles and the church.  He was succeeded by his brother who had been declared king by the nobles in the north.

Eadgar the peaceful 959-975 a small man.  he standardized measures in the kingdom.  Under him all of England became one kingdom and would not sink back into separate petty kingdoms.
This coin was not available at this post date.
Eadward II the martyr 975-978
He was very young when he became king and others wielded power for him. Giving support to the church in attempts to dispossess it of lands granted earlier by king Edgar, he was murdered at Corfe castle and later recognized as a saint.

Aethelred the unready 978-1016 The Danes raided England and he paid them off for a time.  Sweyn Forkbeard eventually invaded and took over England.  Aethelred was exiled to France and when Forkbeard eventually died he returned.  Unready was a name that actually meant poorly advised not unprepared.
Cnut the great 1016-1035
After his father's death England reverted to Aethelred.  Cnut invaded again, and retook England from Aethelred.  he ruled England well for 19 years and prospered because his reign protected England from more raids from the Danes.

Harold I harefoot 1035-1040

Harthacnut 1040-1042
Edward the confessor 1042-1066
Edward was a complicated case.  William was his natural heir, having no children himself, and he promised him the throne.  Harold II had not Royal blood in the literal sense, but was from an influential family of barons.  Harold was a favorite, and also expected the crown.  He traveled to Normandy and was captured by hostile action, and in return for his escape, he swore, so the story goes, on holy relics without knowing it, that he would not accept the throne if offered and allow William to succeed.  When the time came, Harold took the throne, and William invaded.  And the rest is history, including members of my own family through my grandmother Mitchell

This coin was not available at this post date.
Harold II 1066

Friday, August 7, 2015

Coin Lore

We all remember "Feed the Birds" in Mary Poppins for Tuppence a bag, and all the rest of the Tuppence mentions in that movie.

There is: Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.

Why did they give sixpence as a wedding gift to brides.? see below.

You have to be careful to avoid cracking a tooth on a sixpence in your Christmas Plum Pudding.

Then there is a character in Agatha Christie named Tuppence.

And who can deny the interest in a coin called Thruppence, a Florin, a Bob or ha'pence or hay-p'ny, and pennies half the size of coasters...and what the hell is a farthing?.

English tradition says that a bride will have good luck  if she has the following during her marriage:

Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed
And something blue
And wear a sixpence in her shoe.
The sixpence was minted from1558 to 1967.
Sometime in the 17th century, the lords of manors presented a sixpence to a new bride as a wedding gift.  As the century progressed, it became a tradition for the parents of the bride to give a sixpence as a dowry gift to the groom.  Perhaps this was a little surprise he would find in her shoe as she undressed?  This became a good luck tradition over time and the custom continues in English speaking countries around the world, always worn in the left shoe.

A fun collectible if you get bored with just coins, are love tokens.  Sometimes coins(a sixpence would be ideal) would be polished flat on one or both sides.
They would be engraved with poems, "Harry loves Anne" type mottoes or phrases, flowers and other designs significant to the lady who was destined to receive it.  They can be a loose disc, hung as pendants or on charm bracelets.  You even find the figures on the coin sawed out and engraved on the remaining back of the figure.
They are getting rare, but they are out there.  Take them off jewelry, as they will be wearing out as they are worn.  Either that or display them on the jewelry without being worn.
This is still a very romantic thing to do.  Perhaps you could take the sixpence from the bride's shoe, polish it flat, and have that engraved with wedding dates and names and a cute: I love you.  Vous et nul autre... is one of my favorites.  You and no others.  Not quite as romantic in English.  Perhaps in the bride's family's native language.                 


Many of these are modern coins, meaning since Shakespeare, and all make interesting budget coins for modern reigns.
Early on there were pennies, half pennies(usually just cut in half) Groats, half Groats and other mysterious names.
The average Joe is not likely to be able to buy any of the higher denominations or gold coins of the period...Just beyond most peoples' budget.

Because I cannot use the symbols for various denominations of money, I direct you to a great web page that explains the pre "New Pence" system.   New Pence came along in 1971.  Take a look at a movie called: "A Room With a View" to see the problems even the English had with their system, when Charlotte needs help paying for her cab. (The Merchant/Ivory version) The old system was a mess for those not raised with it, but in spite of the problems, the decimal based New Pence system is not nearly as romantic.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


I want to thank Wikipedia just for being there.  Also many thanks for all of the wonderful images that I have used, mostly portraits of the kings and queens of England and Great Britain. 
Wikipedia is a wonderful resource, and is a wonderful site that deserves your support, as an editor, as a contributor, and with your financial support.  Thanks Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Storage and Maintaining Value and Investment

There is absolutely nothing that you can do to stop the degrading of the metal in your coins.  There is also almost nothing you can do to stop continuing damage to coins that you handle regularly.
The best thing to do, as with many other precious objects, is to minimize the damage. 

There is one thing I really hate about collecting antiques etc..  That is losing or breaking something.  Imagine, that plate I just dropped survived for five centuries...was treasured by its owners, loved by brides and collectors...but it reached my hands, only to finally be broken.  I HATE THAT!!!!
Damage, loss, degrading...that is all part of owning things.
So, how do we minimized damage and store coins of this type.

If you have a very valuable collection...forget display and handling....things will happen even when you are very careful.  Sooner or later it will end up on the floor, crushed under foot, or inside the cat or dog.

If you do not want to use a manufactured metal box, or other system:

Valuable coins should be stored in soft, acid free, uncolored, flannel, possibly the flannel that is made for storage of silver flatware.  They should not be tightly constrained, flattened or stacked.  They should be loosely wrapped  or folded in separate pieces of cloth and lightly packed without pressing down in an airtight box, also made from non acidic materials.  Large pieces of cloth may be folded and stitched into pockets in rows, with flaps that fold down as well, to hold them inside their pockets.  The thread too should be cotton and acid free.
Plastic envelopes, too tight for thin and possibly bent or rumpled coins or coins that are actually glued together(not an uncommon practice for the rarest coins) or cracked.
Little boxes with magnifying tops.  Nice to observe through, but putting them in a box and carrying them around will not do them any good, being bounced around inside their rigid little space.  Plastic is not necessarily acid free. Careful shopping will get you archival plastics though.  Be sure that cloth or paper wrapped coin hoards are stored air tight and dampness free, because paper and cloth can actually attract moisture.
Card stock envelopes with cellophane windows...make sure they are acid free, and the layers of cellophane do not press on less than flat coins that may break when flattened. 
You might try learning to fold diamond papers from acid free tissue.  Make a little ring of thick, acid free, non fluffy cotton(white or natural) yarn big enough to go around the coin generously.  Place the yarn circle in the diamond paper, and your coin inside the ring.  Fold up the paper, and store without pressing the papers together, thus pressing the coins as well.
Coins should not touch each other in storage, especially if made of different metals!
There are plastic (coin shaped) coin cases available.  These are great for static storage as long as they are acid free, but shipping and carrying them around is still not a good idea, as just the rattling around inside can harm delicate edges.  There are also boxes made for standard sized coins with plastic gaskets to keep them still, but these old coins will not fit anything standard.  If they can be lined with acid free paper or cloth, I would feel better about long term storage, possibly just wrapped in acid free tissue in a larger than necessary case.
Patterned storage cloth or paper, like paper towel, can, in time, impress that pattern onto the metal of your acid.  Acid free tissue also buffers from neighbors.
One of the reasons that life exists on this planet, is that water exists here, and water is a universal time...everything will be affected by dampness..even the traces of alloys in your gold will be affected by dampness. Gold like all refined metals ARE NEVER PURE.  There is always some sort of impurity in the metal, even the very best.  That impurity can be affected by bad atmosphere and solvents and acids.  Gold is nearly immutable, as you can see by visiting museums that display thousands of years old jewelry, but IT IS POSSIBLE TO RUIN IT with improper storage with just the right things present to work on it...again, not likely the gold, but the alloy mixed into it. Gold is pretty difficult to dull, but you can do it!
Storage in sealed glass containers would be ideal, but finding such storage would be very difficult, and again, rattling around inside is an issue.
If you had a Bunsen burner or a tiny remember this is a rather extreme and anally retentive thing to try, but would be effective and a fun experiment. 
Buy a large but thin tube in glass, used for chemistry.  Lay on a stone or metal surface and heat the tube till it slumps to form a tube that is flattened rather than round.   Flatten an end with a heated butter knife while hot, to seal it.  Slide your coin into the flattened tube.  Heat the area beyond the other side of the coin.  With a butter knife while hot, flatten the tube to seal off the coin inside.  Heat another knife to red hot, and cut the sealed case off from the tube and cool.  Perhaps this would be a fun project to try with a penny to see if it works.  You can buy pennies captured in tiny bottles blown around them.  You would not necessarily harm the patina as the entire tube would not get that hot.  Try it with a badly damaged coin that is beyond recovery and see what happens.

Once a coin has started to degrade, such as copper, even sealed, it will continue to degrade because of the chemicals produced by the degradation process.  Isolate already degraded coins from your nice clean collection.  Do not count them out.  Again, after a disaster, you may have the only examples left of some rare coin.  Just keep such a coin isolated, and seek a professional to help restore the coin.  A cleaned coin will lose most of its value, but if you really like the coin or it is so incredibly rare that it does not matter to you or collectors, it may be worth it if nothing else will preserve it.  Examples of incredibly rare coins would be Edward V of England, or Edward VIII(the idiot) of England.  Edward VIII only had a proof coin in England(as I remember) with 6 coins total in the world.  Never issued, but they are there.  One recently sold for 516,000 pounds.  Four are in museums.

Many of the storage systems available on the open market today are really meant for modern coins and bars of precious investment metal and do not take into consideration the unique issues that your nearly thousand year old William I coin may have.

You can buy aluminum storage boxes that will pretty much seal your collection off from the elements.  Remember though, even fairly good containers will not last for too long submerged in water, or buried for a long time.  Disaster scenarios are by definition pretty invasive.  If your collection is valuable, historically significant or just valuable to you, buy or make the very best storage that you can.
Even though my collection will not be the best coins on the market, they will be historically valuable, and worth preserving. 
You may have noticed that historical sites and museums are not always as secure as they seem.  In times of war or strife, your collection could end up being the last survivor of historical items of their type, if you have stored them properly.

I had a friend years ago from one of the Baltic States.  Latvia perhaps?  Her house was filled with amber of all descriptions.  I commented on the fact that in times of strife, she would have something to sell for food etc.(I  think we were discussing her time in the second world war at the time.)
She just turned dark and said: "in the second world war, I could not even get a loaf of bread for my best piece of amber."
This brings me to another subject.

Also, a little warning from a non expert.
Do not put all your eggs into one basket.  Investing in precious metals and old coins should  be FUN and that should be your primary motive.  Buy what you love, and let investment be secondary.  Metals can go up OR DOWN in value, no matter what they say on TV. 
It is very much like jewelry.  You are always buying at retail, unless it is at auction or estate sales etc.. When you go to sell your three carat diamond ring, or your William I silver coin, why would a store or investor buy from you at a profit from your retail purchase, when they can just as easily buy the same thing at wholesale.  Typically, when I was in the jewelry business, a seller might get 15 cents on the dollar for their diamonds or gold in cash.  They might get 30 cents on the dollar if they left it on consignment.  If you open your own store, you might get close to the value you paid. 
Remember that anyone who buys from you, in order to realize a profit on their purchase, will have to raise the price and resell it. 
That being said, your gold or silver may have at least SOME value when all else has none during war or other hard times The most valuable things will be food, fuel, tools and your labor. 
Buying something now and planning on your grandchildren getting a profit is a good strategy.  Over time you are likely to have a rise in value.  In my case, I expect that my grand-nephew's children might get a couple of years of education from it, or perhaps a down payment on a house.

Here is a warning scenario.  There is a film somewhere on Youtube or somewhere.  Excavators found a shoe filled with 420 coins.
So, you have just purchased your Henry I coin and paid $1000.00 for it.   The following day someone opens up a floor board in their 12th century house in Kent(they do exist in England.)  and there are 600 silver coins JUST LIKE YOURS.  The following day, the prices on Ebay or other sites are now half what they were.  
You have to at least be able to say to your skeptical friends: "I just love the coin and I had to buy it no matter what the price, because I wanted it."  
Prices can vary wildly for the same coin.  It may be in nearly perfect condition, with a soft gray patina all over it.  You pay a lot for it.  Your mother-in-law comes to visit.  She decides to help with the housework.  They are cleaning silver, and while your wife or husband is making tea, she decides to clean the pile of coins on the coffee table. 
Do not rely on investment unless you plan to seal up and pack all your collections away, and even then you have to pray that no one in England finds a treasure trove!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

King William I The Conqueror - William of Normandy, or William the Bastard

William I
About 1028– 9 September 1087 

William conquered England in 1066.  He ruled from 1066 to 1087
 In the throng of barons and warriors that arrived with him were Hugo Le Corbeau and two of his sons(Roger and Robert).  They were among the earliest ancestors I can find in my family.  I have records of his parents.  This family became Marcher lords in the Shropshire area, and later descendants married into Welsh royal lines, including Tudor.  One son stayed behind in Normandy to become the lord of his father's estates named Caus, and another did the best he could in France.  The family name became present day Corbet and other variants.
William's coins are a bit elusive, being nearly 1000 years old, but not impossible to find.  You just have to open your wallet or purse to get one.  Halved or quartered coins are much less expensive and are just as valid a choice for collecting.
The Corbet family connection is the reason why I started this collection.  Though it is pretty much impossible to avoid Anglo-Saxon lineage when the family lived so long in England, we are traceable mostly to Normans, and I wanted a collection that reflected that English/Norman heritage beginning with William I.  The Normans were the villains in all the old literature...Oh, well...that explains a lot!
Now we all have to understand that basically these people were Germans, Danes, Norwegian and Swedish...  They were Vikings, related to the Germans, and when we say Anglo-Saxon  or Viking we are basically talking about the same people, Normandy was simply this group's last place of residence before arriving in England.   They may, of course have married locals to produce a somewhat Gallic heritage as well, But they were not really in Normandy that long before going to England.

Not the pleasantest of faces.

Norman William I paxs type penny. Aelred. London mint, $723.00, but even better coins will easily go over $5000.

I will probably not live to see this reach 1000 years old, but my heirs will!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

You have to decide right away, what your purpose is in assembling this collection. 
In my case, I am simply interested in the history, the owning of pieces of history.  Knowing that these coins were minted in the lifetimes, and possibly(remotely I admit) in the presence of or being handled by the sovereign on the obverse.
Thousands of these coins were made in the course of a king or queen's reign.  The likelihood that they ever laid eyes on any coin you buy is awfully remote. Maundy coins were sometimes handed out by the king or queen at church services during the week of the passion of Christ, and were more likely to have been handled by the actual king or queen...but not necessarily...they had plenty of Lackeys you know.
The other day, I opened a package with Mary I's coin inside.  I said to my friend, when he held it: "Can you feel the evil in this penny?"  He didn't sleep for two days after I explained what Mary was up to during her reign.
Since I am only interested in the history, I have a great deal of freedom in what I choose to buy.   Though I may not get the greatest portrait in the inexpensive coins I buy, I can still feel that history, not just in the perfection of the image, but in the fact that it is a bit "beat up" and has been handled in its long lifetime.  Imagine, some of these coins are nearly a thousand years old.  Some have been buried for centuries, some have been sitting in someone's bureau drawer for generations and some have been on display in museums.  They have probably been stolen a few times, paid for both illicit and legitimate things and services.  Their use has led to both joy and heartache.

If you plan to invest in these coins, you must find coins that have not been cleaned in living history.  The patina that forms on the coin is very desirable.   Gold for the most part does not look much different than the day it was minted, but silver and copper can be black as night after a few centuries. In some cases, silver objects in good condition can be as valuable as gold, because silver does not last like gold does so there are fewer early objects made of silver than you might expect.
 Unfortunately, those of you who wish to collect for fun, and to see nice pleasant images on the coins can be greatly disappointed.  The good coins can look like little more than little lumps of molded slate, but can have much more value than the nice, clean, shiny coin with a pretty face on one side.
Coins too, can be very affordable if they are a bit out of round.  It was a common practice to clip little slivers of silver off the edge of the coins to accumulate silver to be sold or used for casting etc. 
This is why so many more modern coins have a patterned edge on them, so that one can easily see when the edges have been tampered with.  The coin may not weigh nearly what it did when minted.  If I remember correctly, there were 240 pennies to a pound of silver when minted.  Start clipping the edges and the total can be well below that weight.
For collectibility, and for maximum value, look for patinated, uncleaned coins with nice unclipped edges.  Clean, shiny (unless by some miracle they are that way naturally) coins have little appeal to the big money buying collector.
Look too, at the edges.  Some will have an edge that comes to a razor edge, this may be better than one that has a neat squared edge but a little rough, sparkly or flat, as it may be a sign it was trimmed by scissors or snips.
This means, of course: Do not clean old coins except in the most superficial manner! 
Handle the coins only by the edges, and cotton gloves would be best, as oils from your hands can etch the metal(you are quite acidic you know).  No solvents!  Plain water and dry without rubbing.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

King Willaim II Rufus

 c. 1056 – 2 August 1100.   
I am afraid that I have little to report about Billy except his demise.   He was hunting in the New Forest in south central England when he was killed by an arrow.  Stray arrow...Murder...who knows, but his brother Henry made unusual haste in claiming his succession, before the body began to cool.
So far, his coins have been elusive.  I have only seen one for sale anywhere, and that was 3000 pounds(in excess of 4500 dollars at this time)...the hunt will continue. His father's coins can go for a fraction of that.
This coin was not available at this post date.  I do not own one.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

King Henry I

Henry ruled from c. 1068 – 1 December 1135.
His succession was something of a scandal, as he was present at his father's death, and raced to proclaim himself king despite not being the eldest son.
He battled his brother to regain control of Normandy, and became known as Beauclerc, presumably because he instituted a number of administrative institutions in Normandy and England that promoted better government.
His only male heir was drowned in the White Ship foundering in the English Channel.  The capsizing was preceded by much wild drinking.  He also lost his illegitimate son. 
His only heir was Matilda(Married to Geoffrey of Anjou), who was to be his successor, but after long years of anarchy, Steven of Blois (his nephew) was confirmed as the next king.
Henry's coins too, have been elusive, but can be had if you can afford the price.
 HENRY I - Quadrilateral cross-fleury type Penny, ca.1125-35AD
This one was just shy of $300.00, and I thought it a good deal.
From the declared Knaresborough Hoard of 2008!
The 'Knaresborough Area hoard' was deposited circa 1135 and consisted of 178 silver coins, all Henry I BMC type XV. The hoard was discovered by a group of metal detectorists between April 20th, 2008 and April 15th, 2009. The reason for the hoard's concealment and perhaps more interestingly its non-recovery is not known.
It is perhaps worth noting that 1135 was the end of Henry's reign, and the beginning of the time of Anarchy when Stephen of Blois and the Empress Matilda were battling it out across England for the crown.  Perhaps a good time to be burying your hoard of silver coins, probably worth a very modest living wage for 3 years at the time.

Friday, July 31, 2015

King Stephen

 1092/6 – 25 October 1154,
 He was the nephew of Henry I.  He is often referred to as Stephen of Blois. Matilda was Henry's choice as a successor,  and both had plenty of support.  They warred their way around England for some time before a compromise was agreed upon.  Stephen was to be king, but as his first son was dead, Matilda's son would succeed him.  That would turn out to be Henry hero.
Read  "Pillars of the Earth"   by Ken Follett, to get a little taste of the time period.  His reign was little more than a series of struggles either with Matilda, her son Henry Fitzempress, the church, the Scots...Still he managed to mint some coins. Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud especially in Normandy.
His coins are not particularly rare, but they tend to be a bit on the expensive side. Plan on a minimum of 3 to 4 hundred dollars, though, again, you might find half coins to cut the costs.

Can you see the is there, but hard to make out.  His upper lip is just about in the center of the coin.
Ok, so this coin is no Beauty!  It is either crooked on the blank, or heavily clipped for the silver over the centuries, but it is nicely patinated.  Also, this coin is severely lacking in detail, I suppose, from centuries of wear from handling or rubbing up against other coins.  This is a Stephen Penny 1135-1154 AD, and while these may go into the thousands of dollars, I felt very lucky when I was able to get this discounted at $326.00.  This price when compared to others forgives a lot of sins in the appearance of the coin.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Empress Matilda and the Time of Anarchy

Now, if there ever was a name for a kid that would result in multiple "KICK ME" signs in one day, this is it.
7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167
Matilda was Henry I's daughter, married to Geoffrey of Anjou, and Henry's choice as successor.  I guess that the idea of a woman on the throne was not to the liking of the testosterone saturated Barons, and Stephen was regarded as a better choice.   Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud, especially in Normandy. 
It may seem strange that we are talking about Anjou and Blois...or are some of you saying: " that somewhere near Bolton?"
Connections with France were still, at this time, pretty strong.  As you can see, Matilda died only 101 years after the conquest.  I suspect that the Anglo Saxon population did not favor French as a first language(though many French words are still in the language from this time)  and no Norman was going to associate himself in any way with those Saxon louts that were really only good for paying taxes.
It is rather funny that the Vikings....Normans.. assimilated almost completely into French culture when they were given Normandy and took more of northern France, but did not assimilate into English language and customs for centuries...Some might say that the aristocracy never did assimilate.
No, we were living in a French dominated...or rather a Norman French society, and the entire ruling class was intricately knit into family and real estate connections in France. 
The White Ship accident was a case of the king and retinue progressing to England from Normandy.  Richard the first...spending much time in the middle east, spent almost no time at all in England, and despite being a pretty poor ruler, is a real hero figure to many moderns who like to wax poetic about the English Royals.
Anyway...Who knew at this time that one of the greatest rulers the country would ever know, would be a woman.
The Angevin(Anjou's, Geoffrey and Henry) forces that would war against Stephen for much of his reign, held( more or less) a third of the country, mostly in the west, based in Bristol.
When the compromise was settled..Stephen's younger children being passed over after the death of his first son, and Matilda's son Henry taking the throne on his death; her presence in the country was very great for years.  She had plenty of time to mint coins.
Her coins are rare..exceedingly rare, but there are some out there.  Since she was never crowned, I think that you would be entirely justified in not including her in your collection if you are doing crowned kings and queens...This also knocks out King Louis I,(Yes, there was one.) Henry V, despite his actually being king for a time, Lady Jane Grey, and Edward, the idiot, VIII.  "What a Maroon" as Buggs Bunny would say.
This coin was not available at this post date.  I do not own one. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

King Henry II

5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189
Henry of Anjou, Henry Court Manteau, Henry Fitz Empress, Henry Plantagenet....Try to put those on a check.
Henry was quite a figure...he warred with his sons.  He married the dazzling Eleanor of Aquitaine then warred with her and locked her up in Salisbury Tower( I suppose that meant that there was at least one member of the family that spent plenty of time in England other than John's later exploits.)
He HAD Rosamund, from Wales I think.   Thomas Becket (perhaps he Had him as well) earned him a public whipping...all were figures that contributed to a monumental and endlessly fascinating life.  Henry could have easily swept his way across Europe and ruled it all if it had not been for all the personalities in his private life.  This was touched upon in
"The Lion in Winter"  a play and movie that are both a joy to watch from the mid 60s.
I thought that such a monumental man would lend monumental prices for his coins, so I grabbed the first affordable one I could find.  As it turns out, his coins are readily available, and do not command terribly high prices.  This one was about $210.00.
Not a beauty, but something appeals to me about this his face is emerging from a mist.  Henry is my hero.

Called a Tealby type because it is similar to a hoard found in Tealby Lincolnshire in 1807.  A bit rare because the hoard was melted down in the tower of London at the time because of silver shortages.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

King Richard I The Lionhearted

8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199
Well, here we have another figure with unusual attributes.  He was ruler of Aquitaine, Normandy, and nearly half of France, England...probably more I do not know, but spent very little time in any of them.  Least of all in England. Yet, he figures in Robin Hood as rather a hero, is revered as the ultimate hero and warrior by many.  He is always portrayed as this Wagnerian character with the clear blue eyes, the body of a weight lifter and the heavy black beard and hair of the most virile of men.  He had, however, red/gold hair and was tall and elegant in appearance.
History and Hollywood are wonderfully at odds.
A great warrior, spending much of his life in battle and traveling to battles and tournaments, crusading in the middle east, taking Sicily and Cypress. He and his brothers and mother were constantly at war with his father including the first two sons who did not survive Henry.  One, Henry the young king, was actually supposed to be a co-king, but even he warred against Henry because the purse strings were too tight in Henry's hands.
 Maybe Berengaria of Navarre was a real dog and he had to get away from home.  Of course there is the widespread opinion that Richard was bisexual in practice.  There were no children, perhaps because of this and perhaps because of his nearly constant absence. 
Richard's coins are widespread and were minted in many countries and provinces.  English coins are not uncommon, and while they are not cheap, do not command the high prices that some of the real villains command.   This one from about 1189 was just under $70.00.