Celebrating 25 years

April 2008, Volume 45 No. 4
Onwards and upwards—the way ahead
As you can’t have failed to notice (I hope!) this month marks the 25th anniversary of Token Publishing Limited. It is hard to believe that 25 years ago, my then wife and myself took the decision to turn our backs on “steady work”, strike out on our own and become our own bosses; but we did and now, a quarter of a century and one divorce later, the company has grown considerably—from a small rented office above a plumber’s shop in Hampshire where just two of us could work, to an office “complex” complete with warehouse and 14 staff in beautiful Devon. We’re still very much a family business though and I’m both proud and honoured that my wife Carol and son Philip are very much an integral part of the business, indeed now as I reach my mid-sixties and take a step back a little, it is they who are eager to take Token into the next 25 years.

Inevitably though that brings us back to the question of how we’re going to achieve that—just how are we going to ensure that COIN NEWS and Token Publishing survives another two and half decades and more? On the medal side it’s fairly straightforward at the moment: the surge of family history enthusiasts and the “Who do you think you are?” brigade have injected new life into the hobby and as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are constantly in the news, so too are stories of bravery and courage and stories of the medals that are used to reward them. Military history is “trendy” again and whilst medal collecting is not yet completely mainstream it no longer wears the same anorak as many other “collecting” hobbies seem to.

Coins are a different matter. They have always been seen as a bit more specialist and have always suffered from a bit of an image problem even though you and I both know that whether taken as numismatic items on their own or as a part of a larger history, coins do in fact have some incredible tales to tell, stories that in fact many people really do want to hear.

This has actually become increasingly evident in recent weeks as Token Publishing branches out into new media fields! Some of you may well have heard our Marketing Director Philip in the past month or so as he has appeared on Radio 5 on a number of occasions talking about all aspects of numismatics (including the rumoured disappearance of Britannia from our coins when the new designs are unveiled, and the future of the ip and 2p pieces). He also now has a bi-weekly slot on BBC Radio Devon where he takes ‘phone calls and answers questions (so far mainly about coin and medal identification and values) and on April 13 at 3.45pm, just after Gardeners Question Time on BBC Radio 4, he will present a programme entitled “The Missing Penny”, being the story of the handful of pennies minted in 1933 and the legend that one is still waiting to be discovered.

Now already I can hear the purists groaning—why, I hear them ask, would a respected member of the “hobby” demean himself by answering questions on coin values on local radio, or pander to the myth that there is a ‘33 penny just waiting to be found in a jam jar somewhere? Well the answer is simple—the “what’s it worth?” element, the treasure seekers eager to make a quick buck or two, outnumber the numismatists ten to one and those happy to listen to a good tale outnumber even those.

There are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people out there with an interest in coins, even if they won’t admit it, and many of them will have collections. Maybe they formed the collections themselves, maybe a relative accumulated them at some point in the distant past, but either way the fact is they have a collection and they could become numismatists. Whilst they may now only be interested in monetary gain, couldn’t they perhaps be encouraged to take their collection further and appreciate it for what it is, rather than what it’s worth? Many of them won’t of course; many of them really are single minded and blind only to the profit they might make, but I can’t believe that of everyone—certainly many of them might be asking “what’s it worth?” now, but they didn’t accumulate those coins purely with money in mind originally, so somehow we owe it to the hobby to try and re-kindle the spark of interest they once had.

So next time somebody who knows that you are interested in coins comes up to you with some worn milled silver or unrecognisable Roman bronze lump and asks if it’s worth anything, don’t roll your eyes and dismiss them out of hand, but rather take them to one side and explain that whilst it won’t send them on holiday or buy them a new car, its value lies far beyond its monetary worth and that actually every coin has a story to tell. Many will turn away disappointed but maybe one or two will start to see their coins in a different light—and maybe that way the future of the hobby will be secure.

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In This Issue

Ancients34
Gladiators in Roman London
Coins inspired by a savage sport
Insight38
Sir Isaac Newton - Master of the Mint
The famous scientist's 30-year association with the Mint
Insight38
Sir Isaac Newton - Master of the Mint
The famous scientist's other career
Spotlight43
Bronze Pennies 1860-1970
A fascinating period for this humble coin
Out & about47
Taranto
The coinage of an ancient city
On the fringe50
The Castlecomer Colliery tokens
A peculiar practice in 19th century Ireland
Tokens52
Early years of public transport
A ticket to ride...
Profile54
A numismatic polymath
John Andrew talks to the Rev Richard Plant
Anniversary feature64
Token's silver celebration
.
Back to Basics66
Sizing up your collection
Achieving a well ordered collection
Banknote Feature71
Bank of England Post Bills
Beating the robbers with an obscure issue
Papermoney75
Condition - a point of view
Is condition everything?

Regulars

Editor's Comment2
Coin news & views14
Around the World22
New issues coin update24
Royal Mint Bulletin26
Market Scene28
Price Guide to sixpences & fourpences53
The Lexicon61
Coin Classroom63
Coin Caution66
The Sovereign67
Banknote News69
New issues banknote update77
Price Guide to five pound notes78
Dealers' lists81
Coin Clinic84
Letters85
Fair Diary89
Auction Diary90
Societies Diary92
Semi-display adverts93
The Web Page95
Classified advertising97