The E-Sylum:  Volume 4, Number 18, April 29, 2001, Article 2


   Paul Withers of Galata coins provides this book review: 

   "Tokens of the Industrial Revolution  Foreign Silver Coins 
   Countermarked for use in Great Britain, c.1787-1828." 
   Harrington E Manville.  327 pages + 55 plates.  20 x 27 cm. 
   Fully illustrated throughout.  London. 2001.  ISBN 
   1-902040-41-4  Published jointly by the British Numismatic 
   Society and Spink.  British Numismatic Society Special 
   Publication No. 3.  Price £40. 

   Mr. Manville is known to be a researcher par excellence. 
   His three volumes in the series Encyclopaedia of British 
   Numismatics give ample evidence of his efforts.  If you do 
   not know this series, it is time to get to know it.  We find all 
   three volumes wonderfully useful and they have saved us 
   considerable time and effort. 

   However, this new volume eclipses those and the one 
   criticism one could make is the title which is a little misleading 
   as the countermarks mainly occur on spanish colonial dollars 
   that were countermarked for use in Scotland - though it has 
   to be said that countermarks do appear on other pieces, 
   including bits of dollars, other tokens, and for locations other 
   than those in Scotland - and it is difficult to think of a catchy 
   title for the subject. 

   We have done a little research on a similar field - the copper 
   tokens of this period, which took two of us, working hard, for 
   about three years, following in the footsteps of Davis, so we 
   have an idea of the amount of work that has gone into this, the 
   hours that must have been spent in libraries, museums and other 
   institutions.  The blurb on the jacket says that the book took 
   about 35 years to write.  We can believe such a statement and 
   can only add that the fruit of such long and devoted research is 
   a book that is incredibly detailed and carefully and lovingly 

   The series is a difficult one.  The coins themselves are rare, 
   often extremely rare and there are forgeries - 'genuine' 
   counterfeits struck at the same time as the genuine countermarks 
   were applied, genuine countermarks on fake coins, fake 
   countermarks on fake coins struck at the same time as the 
   'official' issues, and of course, fakes made later for collectors 
   at various times from the early 1900s to much more modern 
   pieces, some of which have by now acquired sufficient 
   patination to look interesting and sufficiently decayed so as 
   to be dangerously deceptive to collectors who have not seen 
   them before.   These are largely identified with certainty, 
   precision and excellent enlarged photographs illustrate them. 

   However, one minor point of criticism - but then a good 
   reviewer must always find a minor point, even in the most 
   excellent of books, to prove that (a) he has read it, and (b) 
   he knows enough of the subject sufficiently well to make a 
   valid point :  in the section on Concoctions and Non-circulating 
   Counterstamps, on page 235, Manville writes 'S. H. Hamer 
   obtained the SUPPOSED (my capitalisation) original punches...' 
   In British Copper Tokens 1811-1820 we illustrate three 
   pairs of punches used to countermark Birmingham pennies, 
   and examination of a token counterstamped in 1906 by 
   Hamer shows that his concoction is in fact made with one of 
   these sets of genuine punches.  So, not supposed after all, 
   but the real thing - and now a respectable item associated 
   with one of the better-known collectors of the period and a 
   collector's item in its own right.  However, this is but a very 
   minor point, and it  does not detract more than an almost 
   imperceptible fraction from this wonderful tome. 

   These coins are so rare that we are unlikely to see any but 
   the most common, and even those in only small numbers, 
   but I would still want this book on my shelves as it is a 
   wonderful example of the researcher's art, and as an 
   inspiration.  This is a work that is monumental, 
   ground-breaking and definitive. 

   It is available from Galata, at 70 US dollars including postage. 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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