The E-Sylum:  Volume 6, Number 31, August 3, 2003, Article 9


  Paul Withers writes: "The new collector of British coins, and
  members of the non-collecting public are often confused by
  the many brass imitations of the guinea, especially the so-called
  'spade' guinea that are to be found.  More often than not, they
  are quite wrongly convinced that what they have is a genuine
  gold coin.

  Of course, there are so many of these pieces, some of which
  are very common, that they can be easily collected, and a
  collection of two or three hundred is not difficult to amass for
  very little cost.  However, to put together a really good
  collection - one that has more than say five hundred different
  pieces - takes a considerable amount of time and effort, and
  more than seven hundred is an difficult challenge for all but
  the keenest.  Why collect them ?  There are many reasons,
  not the least of which is that they are there !  Other grounds
  are that they make an interesting study of advertising;  local
  items can be researched, and the manufacturers of these
  items traced - all providing hours of innocent pleasure - for
  example, discovering that M.C.M.D.S.T.M.S.P.ET.C is
  not a meaningless jumble of letters put on the coin to impress,
  or fill space, but may be expanded to read : Machine Chain
  Maker. Die Sinker. Tool Maker. Stamper. Etc.  Machine
  chain maker ?  That's watch chains, or jewelry, not chains
  for restraining prisoners or anchoring boats  !

  Readers who have seen these pieces may be interested to
  learn that a new book is about to be born.

  It is  A THOUSAND GUINEAS. A Checklist of Imitation
  Guineas and their Fractions, by  W Bryce Neilson, with
  assistance from David Magnay, David Young and J Gavin
  Scott.   It provides :

  € A checklist and basic guide to the series, listing imitations
  of five guineas, guineas and their fractions, including thirds,
  double sovereigns, sovereigns, and a half sovereign from
  Queen Anne to Victoria.

  € Lists 1,000 examples of currency imitations and advertising
  types using an expandable numbering system.

  Details are as follows :  Size A4. 70pp with card covers.
  UK price £15 or 35 US dollars including postage to the US.

  This is a book that has been needed for a long time, for
  although there are the R N P Hawkins articles in BNJ, they
  are restricted mainly to the advertising issues, so the majority
  of examples that one turns up are not listed.  There was David
  Magnay¹s 1997 listing, which whilst useful is neither
  comprehensive, nor really widely enough distributed.  Then
  we heard that David, Bryce, and others, were continuing
  working on the subject, but by the time that we heard about it,
  they had pooled their efforts and Bryce was viewing collections
  and preparing a new listing with detailed descriptions of all
  imitations previously recorded or published.

  The book begins with a concise introduction with very short
  notes on the various issues of the original coins, treating them
  with as much regard as the collectors of the real gold coins
  treat imitations, which the real cognoscenti know are much
  more interesting, and cheaper !  There is a page of illustrations
  of the main types and brief notes on how to use the checklist.
  The imitations covered are Anne guineas and half guineas,
  Early George III guineas and half guineas, Commemorative
  guineas and halves (referring to royal visits to Cheltenham, etc.)
  Spade guineas and halves, In Memory guineas and
  halves, Advertising guineas and halves and then a miscellany
  section of related pieces including forgeries.  The book ends
  with brief notes on the makers and issuers and an index.

  Alas, there are illustrations of only a very few pieces, but in
  general, the descriptions are good enough to locate most
  pieces with certainty, if not with speed, and one does need
  to be a real enthusiast to find one's way around the in
  memory series, which is where photos would have helped
  considerably.  However, the author promises a second
  volume which will include an analysis of die links within the
  advertising series, details of original boxes and containers,
  a valuation guide and illustrations covering both volumes.

  Useful ?  We wouldn't be publishing it if we didn't think so!
  We shall be using it, as will most dealers and collectors."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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