The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 3, January 21, 2024, Article 4


Charlie Riley and Ken Eckardt submitted this obituary and remembrance of Peter Mitchell. Thank you. -Editor

  Peter David Mitchell 1933-2024
by Charlie Riley and Ken Eckardt

Peter Mitchell 1978 Peter Mitchell died at home in Surrey, England, on Sunday morning, 14th January 2024 aged 90, in the presence of his wife Jean. He had suffered ill health for a while.

Peter was the longtime managing director of well-known coin dealers A H Baldwin & Sons Ltd of The Adelphi, central London. He joined the family firm fresh out of school (Hampton Grammar) aged 15 in 1949 as the ‘office boy'. His father Douglas Mitchell worked there and Peter was a great grandson of founder Albert Henry Baldwin. His early years at Baldwin's were interrupted by National Service in the army, but Peter had the good luck to be posted to Hong Kong. While there the famous collector of British colonial coins, Captain (later Major) Fred Pridmore, travelled up from Singapore (where he was stationed with the army) to visit him in 1952, the start of a long association between them. Peter only retired from Baldwin's in 1997 (before joining auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb as a consultant). He was to become one of the great British numismatists of his time, including cataloguing many famous sales for auction at Glendining's, Christie's, Sotheby and Spink (for example O'Byrne, Fred Pridmore, Virgil Brand, Dick Ford, Ralph Gordon, John J Ford cut and countermarked West Indian, among many others).

He will probably best be remembered for his expertise in British hammered coinage and interest in the cut and countermarked series of the West Indies, but his knowledge was much wider than this. He was a great supporter of the ‘Erik Group' (so named from the first name initials of its members: Edward, Ralph, Isaac, Ken), a group of four serious collectors of West Indian cut and countermarked coins – to the extent that he joined them for memorable meetings in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on one trip. He was assiduous in helping clients in the formation of their collections, possibly in the hope that in due course they might sell back to the firm directly rather than go through auction, but more likely that he was an old-fashioned dealer who simply loved assisting collectors. He enjoyed mixing business and pleasure – typically after a major ‘named' auction he would host the principal collectors and dealers who had travelled to London for the sale to a lavish dinner afterwards.

In 1967 on the death of Albert Baldwin, Peter took over the day-to-day running of Baldwin's. In 1973 the introduction of VAT was around the corner and this prompted Peter and others (notably Patrick Finn of Spink and Peter Seaby of the eponymous firm) to found the British Numismatic Trade Association, of which in due course he became a life member in recognition of his role in its creation (he was also made an honorary member of the British Numismatic Society). His working relationship with Patrick was close: Peter mentioned that first thing every weekday morning, Patrick and he would speak to each other on the phone to discuss what they saw as any problems or issues of mutual interest facing the coin business, such was the trust between the heads of Baldwin and Spink's coin department at that time.

In the absence of a definitive history of Baldwin's, we have Peter's Some Reminiscences of the Coin Business I joined and of some members past (British Numismatic Journal 2003, pp197-212). From this, as if any reminder were needed, we see that Peter had an encyclopaedic knowledge not only of coins, but also the major collectors of his day (although in the article he only covers those who were members of the British Numismatic Society). He also had many good stories to tell, but as someone once said, the best tales can never be retold in print! There is also the reminder of old Baldwin traditions, such as naming major clients by just a three figure number, to ensure confidentiality in the office in case others should overhear.

Charles Riley's memories of PDM, whom he first really got to know in 1990, are without fail good ones. Peter had a good sense of humour, although by his own admission it could be ‘perverse' and was good for a drink in a bar or pub, although when he got carried away he had a habit of punching one's arm so that at the end of the evening it felt as though you'd spent it in a boxing ring. From 1994 Riley worked in a junior capacity for Baldwin's at Adelphi Terrace and saw first-hand how well he treated the staff (which was not always typical of some other management there at that time, unfortunately). In midlife, rather curiously, Peter took up competitive rowing at Molesey Boat Club, an interest which extended to attending Henley Regatta every year in the Stewards' Enclosure. In recent years Charlie and Peter had some enjoyable correspondence by post, in which Peter expressed forthright opinions about certain individuals – but almost certainly these will not be for publication!

Peter's first marriage was to Feiona, with whom he had a son and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 2001 and late in life he married his childhood sweetheart Jean, who survives him, along with his children from his first marriage and grandchildren.

Peter made an immense contribution to numismatics in the United Kingdom and beyond, as well as adding to the gaiety of life. He was one of the key numismatists of his generation and will be long remembered by all who knew him. With his passing it is not a cliché to say that it is the end of a numismatic era. He will be missed.

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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