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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 7, February 15, 2009, Article 7

MORE ON THE MYSTERY OF HENRY MORGAN: A NUMISMATIC DETECTIVE STORY

Wiger Henry Morgan
Last week I asked about the 2007 book The Mystery of Henry Morgan: A Numismatic Detective Story by Andrew Wager. Here's what our readers had to say. -Editor


Jim Duncan of New Zealand writes:
For anyone familiar with the early 19th century British silver shilling and sixpence tokens the name Henry Morgan will be equally familiar. Some tokens bear his initials, some his name and some his name and street address - the notorious 12 Rathbone Place. But who he was has always been a mystery.

The most recent attempt I know of was from the masterful Peter Clayton in three articles in the Seaby Coin and Medal Bulletin of 1987. Ultimately, Clayton did not know the answer, but did make a great story. Now Andrew Wager has attacked the problem from a genealogical point of view rather than from the standard numismatic view. He presents a very convincing story built up fact by fact until an almost inevitable conclusion. He is to be complimented on his original approach, and I, a distant colonial, believe he has it right. The book is well illustrated with photographs, including 12 Rathbone Place, numerous tokens, and other relevant matter, much of which was of recurring errors passed down over the 200 years since.

Wager even found a hand-addressed, printed letter from Morgan for sale on the web, a vital clue in his search. Anyone who has a few of these tokens will find this a fascinating read which (for me at least) answered a vexing question. No, Morgan was not related to Henry Morgan the buccaneer, but one could wonder!


Philip Mernick writes:
Although I haven't acquired the book, I have heard the author speak on his ongoing researches on the subject at several UK Token Congresses. Andrew is a very well respected numismatic researcher specialising in UK tokens.

The extensive series of silver tokens issued bearing the name or initials of Henry Morgan had long intrigued UK collectors as his name could not be found in postal directories at the address quoted on the tokens. This, coupled with the fact there was a famous pirate named Henry Morgan lead most people to assume it was an alias.

Andrew's dedicated researches took him beyond those assumptions to find that he really did exist, his name really was Henry Morgan, and he did reside at the address quoted on his tokens, although he did have a piratical way of doing business (issuing underweight tokens and copying those of other issuers). The premises in question were listed by directories under the name of his father-in-law, a prominent merchant in a totally different line of business. This is an object lesson to those doing research - a quick scan of the directories is not enough.




Wayne Homren, Editor

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