Jeff Rock provided this great report on the recent Token Congress in Warwick, England. Thank you! -Editor
Have you ever wanted to go to Congress? In the current political climate, probably not. But how about a numismatic congress? Early in October the 38th annual Token Congress in
England was attended by well over 100 collectors interested in tokens. The talks were mainly on British tokens ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, with most on the 17th
to 19th century, but also included a talk on token literature; past years have featured talks on both Canadian and American tokens as well as other world issues. The talks can
range from under 10 minutes to an hour, with most comfortably in the 20-45 minute range. While most Americans have never heard of this event (there were slightly over a half dozen
of us in attendance this year), it is such an enjoyable experience that it is worth sharing with E-Sylum readers, and perhaps a few more of you will venture over next
The first thing to note is that the Congress is run completely by volunteers, that it changes locale every year, and that it is held a few days after major auctions of tokens
are (usually) held in London, and the week after London’s largest coin show, Coinex. In some of the earlier years the Congress traveled further afield, with some held in Wales and
Scotland. In recent years the sites have stayed within an hour or so train travel from London which makes them easy to get to, mostly in the towns of Warwick (this year’s site)
and Northampton (where it will be next year). The event can best be described as "total token immersion." During the Congress weekend you meet at the host hotel on
Friday afternoon, and you leave on Sunday afternoon. There is a great deal of camaraderie, a great deal of fun – and a great deal of food and drink as well.
Friday night has a nice buffet dinner and then the auction – with lots consigned by members; the prices on these are usually quite fair compared to prices realized at major
auction houses, and there have been some very interesting things up for bidding over the years. After the auction there is socializing and beer – the firm of Baldwin’s generously
providing several kegs of local brew to sustain the attendees throughout the course of the weekend.
Saturday you are up bright and early for a full day, with breakfast and then the start of talks. This year there were four talks followed by a break for tea and coffee, a few
more talks then a break for lunch, three more talks and another tea break (it is England after all), and then three more talks before the gala dinner (with wine provided by the
auction firm Dix, Noonan Webb), the whole evening capped off by the bourse – anyone can get a table for a very modest fee, and there are usually over a dozen dealers and
collectors set up, offering literally thousands of different tokens from a few Pounds on up to thousands of Pounds apiece. The bourse lasts until midnight – and there were people
still in the room up to that time and beyond!
Somehow you manage to still get up early on Sunday for breakfast, have five talks before tea, and an equal number after, and finally parting ways, looking forward to doing it
all again the following year. While many attendees have been coming for decades, others are first-timers, and all are made to feel welcome since there is a shared passion.
We simply have nothing like this in American numismatics. It is different from the traditional coin show that is centered around the bourse, with (maybe) a few talks taking
place in rooms far away from the show itself. The Token Congress is an entire weekend centered around education, camaraderie and fun, and offers a chance to add something both to
your collection and your knowledge base.
Next year’s event will be held October 2-4th in Northampton, and for £200 (as of this writing about $260) you get two nights in a Hilton hotel, all meals for your stay (two
breakfasts, two dinners, three tea and coffee breaks and a lunch), and access to all the talks, auction and bourse. It is simply one of the best bargains around, in all of
It can easily be combined with a British or European holiday at what is one of the best times of year to travel – summer is over, the weather is a bit cooler, kids are back in
school and air and hotel prices are low. If you want to sign up or learn more about the 2020 Token Congress, please contact John Newman at: email@example.com. And if you are a
collector with something interesting to share – why not think about giving a talk too?
Jeff provided these photos, too. Thanks! -Editor
The Bourse, and a talk
The beer, wine and a Pepsi too.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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