Shh! Listen! What’s that noise; the clink of the lock? He never visits us much in
summer; it’s usually wintertime when he’s most active. What can it be this time,
I wonder; some new resident coming in or one of us going out? Maybe to another collection,
via an auction or dealer, or even to some other member of his coin society.
The doors are opening - wow! The light’s flooding in! Now, which tray is he going
for? Phew! He’s going for the trays with the coppers in, farthings, halfpennies and
pennies. Another world, that lot. Full of edge knocks and verdigris nearly all of
‘em. I’ve rubbed obverse to obverse with some of them in the past, and I’ve been
in some places, I’ll tell you. Mind you, we all have, in here! It’s not a bad hole
really, wall to wall mahogany with green baize to rest on. I’ve had it tougher, I’ll
tell you. Made in the reign of Elizabeth the first, I’ve been jangled around in pockets
and purses, slid across counters and bars, tossed up and down to settle arguments,
and even buried in the ground for thirty years. I had a hell of a first life. Yes,
first life! Oh, don’t believe in reincarnation do we? Well, I’ll tell you what. Towards
the end of my first life I was in a hell of a state! People had been at me with shears,
clipped to death I was. I’d lost weight ad was fading fast. Then, when I was only
a hundred years old I was tossed bac into the mint and remade. Yes, remade!
And here I am now. Well, look at me, hardly a scratch or a scuff - edge fully intact.
Where I started my first life with the bang of a hammer, my second was a more gentle
push and press. I wasn’t made in the Tower of London like before, but made in the
North West of England, where I still am. Not moved very far in the last three hundred
The copper trays are back in their places. Oh no! He’s moving down now past the threepenny
bits, the groats - I’m worth three of them - and the sixpences. It’s us next - here
we go......Ah! The light of day!!
Now then, where’s he going? He’s past the cupronickel, past Victoria, the Georges,
Queen Anne and me. He’s looking at the hammered now, and moving some around, making
some room amongst the Charles I and the Commonwealth. Is this a new arrival? I do
hope it isn’t a coin of Cromwell he’s putting in with us, it’ll be Civil War all
over again, and in a cabinet this size it doesn’t bear thinking about!
No, from what those around me say, it’s a siege piece from Newark. Well, polish me!
If he hasn’t some stories to tell! We’ve got ‘em all in here you know, some boasting
to be over two thousand years old. There’s foreigners who have been given a new identity
by stamping with a steam press. They call themselves English Dollars now! Debased
money from the time of Henry VIII - they’re a dull lot - and (I’ll say it quietly)
there’s few forgeries amongst us.
Ah well, it seems like the funny shaped one from Newark has settled in now, and the
doors are closing. The light’s going.... Peace, it won’t be forever. No doubt I’ll
be moved on one day, maybe bump into some of my old mates, but not too hard I hope.
When you’ve been in here as long as I have, you tend to forget who you are, and how
you got here. My head is so close to the paper ticket with my pedigree on that I
can’t make it out. Do you know who I am?