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Entries in this journal

Upside down

Quite a while has passed since I added a coin to my collection - there are plenty to choose from out there but the prices being acheived at auction are now getting really silly, particularly for quality examples of almost anything. Despite this situation it will come as no surprise that the coin in question was Napoleonic  - a 1808 10 centimes from the Paris mint. Why would I do this when, it is the most common issue, and I already have a couple of high grade examples?? (details on my Regist

A lot can happen in 200 years

As mentioned in earlier Journal entries on Napoleonic coinage the impact of this period was not restricted to Europe, but global. Of particular interest is the collpase of the Spanish Empire in the America's with one country after another gaining their independence from Spain. For Guatemala this happened in 1821 when it became part of the new Central American Republic so my tiny Ferdinand VII silver 1/4 Real was an example of the last Spanish coinage struck. This period only lasted a f

Napoleon - what a relief!

In a previous Journal Entry (Copper is good - September 2021) I highlighted a Napoleonic medal depicting the column in Place Vendome, Paris which was commissioned to recognise the success of the Grand Armee in the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.  Following Napoleon's defeat the original Romanesque statue of Napoleon was torn down and replaced by a flag with the fleur-de-lys representing France. 1830 witnessed another revolution in France which saw Louis Phillipe and the Bourbon's back on the thron

Before Zimbabwe there was ....

The area in south central Africa now bordered by Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa went through several reincarnations and amalgamations of territories before becoming Zimbabwe in 1980 - apparently they have inflation problems. I have a number of coins, almost all ungraded, from an earlier period, 1923 to 1953, when the area was called Southern Rhodesia and it was under British control. My original target was to complete a full date run for all of the denominations but after 20

What's in a name?

As a collector of British sixpences it is no surprise that on the addition of Napoleonic and Spanish coinage I was drawn to the smaller denominations. Often these are less well documented than crowns and the gold coinage and as such there are often new varieties that remain to be discovered. In my collection I have a Mexican 1773 half real coin where the King's name is spelt CAROLS rather than the usual CAROLUS - in this case a well-known variety (Calico 2019: 196, Cayon 11118, it's even in

Which cat ate the Treaty of Amiens?

The Treaty of Amiens was signed in 1802 by France and the UK and ended the War of the Second Coalition and thus the French Revolutionary Wars. The resulting peace in Europe was only temporary with the British declaring war on France only a year later in response to Napoleon's continued and expanding occupation of territory thereby initiating the Napoleonic wars. This conflict then consumed Europe for more than a decade estabilishing the basis for the national boundaries we know today. Napol

An extra path...

For many years I have not only been following coins, and medals but also banknotes - and with a username of 'ColonialCoinsUK' it will come as no surprise that the focus of this was the banknotes of the British colonies. Congratulations to Alan Collection Malaysia for their Overall Acheivement Award in the 2021 PMG Registry Awards. To date I have resisted the urge as I would like to collect everything but the British Empire and the Commonwealth covered many countries, and many years, and I j

Making progress - sort of

For the first time in years I actually had some time over the break and managed to sort through some coins. As I have mentioned a few times my original collection was British sixpences and, in particular Victorian ones (1864 to 1879) bearing die numbers in addition to the date. In turns out I had nearly 100 such sixpences scattered through various boxes that I had not catalogued properly. Some of these appear to be duplicates, some upgrades, some are die numbers that I was missing, some are

216 Years ago this week

Another Napoleonic medal added to the collection. This one was produced following the Treaty of Pressburg which was signed by Napoleon on the 26th December 1805 following the major victory by the French over the Austrian's at Austerlitz earlier in that month. In 1813, as Napoleon's control in Europe weakened, the Austrians regained the Illyrian provinces so French influence was short-lived but did result in some positive changes in region. As part of this important Treaty Austria ceded its

Finally made it to Rome

During the Napoleonic period Italy was not the single country we know today and as such had multiple, sometimes, short-lived territories each with their own coinage. The gold 20 and 40 Lire issues were only struck at Milan (mint mark M) with the smaller denominations also being issued by the mints at Bologna and Venice (mint marks B and V), the Italians seem to have had a much greater need than the French for small change - Napoleon only had a single copper issue struck for the French, the 18

That was a good idea while it lasted!

Given earlier Journal entries it will be no surprise that I, not only, have an interest in die varieties but have also been looking at the Napoleonic coinage of Italy which is complex to say the least! It looks like I was not the only one attempting to resolve this dilemma as another collector has also been working on the gold 20 Lire issues and their collection came up for sale at the recent Gaduory auction in Monaco which took place on 22/23 October (see catalogue pages below and next pos

Copper is good

Napoleon had a fascination with the Roman Empire and this is reflected in everything he did, most notably on the medals of the period. I have an example of the medal depicting the Vendome column in Paris, this was erected in 1810 as tribute to the Grand Armee and the Victory at Austerlitz in 1805. This was Napoleon's take on Trajan's column in Rome. Both columns show a spiral relief of important military events, the major events of the 1805 campaign for Napoleon and in this case of Trajan

Dealing with the unexpected

I agree with everyone that prices, and certainly those in my areas of interest, seem to be going forever upwards - I think I was a bit in shock watching my selected lots go through at the MDC Monaco auction, the Paramount Collection and the latest Heritage and Stacks sales, needless to say I didn't get anything!! As a result I have bought very little lately, although I did pick up some more Napoleonic medals - in copper/bronze as the more elusive silver strikes are now achieving prices in the th

Added a key Auction Catalogue

The catalogue for the Paramount Collection from Heritage has just arrived and I will be adding this to my collection as it has some great information on rare world coins and will no doubt get referred to for many years to come. As I mentioned in the ‘Auction Catalogs’ thread some of the standard references used in sales for the areas I have an interest in are actually auction catalogues rather than books, the main one being Napoleonic medals. I already had a copy of Bramsen (reprint, origi

The last coin I bought

Well it has been a while since I actually bought a coin and 2020 turned out to be the first year in a long time that I didn’t pick up multiple lots at the major European auctions over the autumn. I should say this was not from a lack of trying, it is just that I was outbid on the lots I was interested in – sometimes quite spectacularly – so I was delighted when I picked up a 1809 20 Lire from the Milan mint of Napoleonic Italy in AU58 (although the mintage is 52,640 there are only 27 coins grade

Plans for 2021

Short version – do all the things I still haven’t done from 2020, 2019, 2018 etc Longer version – I bought less coins in 2020 than I have done for many years, and this is not because of the current environment we all find ourselves in, but that the higher grade coins in my collecting areas, even the minors, seem increasingly scarce and have rapidly moved beyond by budget making completing sets effectively impossible. At least partial acceptance of this fact prompted some specific resea

Completed a set - or thought I had!

A week or so ago I thought a recently completed set would form the basis for a Journal entry given the interesting range of denominations, metals and mints. The basic set is made up of 12 coins and my set is currently comprised of ungraded coins and coins in both NGC and PCGS holders and as such is a long way from being suitable for the NGC Registry. It is a good start though as it does include some key dates in top grades. However, whilst assembling the coins for a 'group photo' I found that



Reverting to type

As I have mentioned my original goal in coin collecting was to assemble all the die numbers for the British sixpences from 1864 to 1879 which resulted in many other collectors questioning my sanity as there are about 600. So many years ago, having nearly acheived this goal which the acquisition of 100's of different die numbers my focus shifted to colonial coins and the Napoleonic period yet I have never quite shaken the die number challenge and always check auction listings although I have usua



The Mystery of Auction References

It is good practice that auction houses cite references for the lots they are selling however, and it may just be me, but this can sometimes make research difficult for a number of reasons. 1) What is the actual reference? Fortunately, some, but not all, auction houses list the references used but do not always state which one the abbreviation used in the lot description corresponds to. For example, using ‘P’ and then citing several books with titles/authors/publishers that could all be th



Further thoughts on grading world coins

Whilst trawling a dealers inventory, looking for something else, I was very pleased to come across a 1809W 10 centimes (PCGS AU55 – main image), and I immediately bought this coin for my Napoleon collection as I was lacking an example from the Lille mint for this denomination. Why the instant decision? Having, decided to assemble a graded set of 10 centimes in 2012 I later reviewed the population reports (2017, included in the introductory text to my Registry Set) which not only highlighte



Frustrations of coin collecting

Unfortunately, things have not changed since my Journal Entry last month - How difficult can placing a bid be? In that never-ending challenge of trying to fill gaps in my collection several more very nice examples of coins, ungraded and possibly the finest available for the issue, have appeared and passed me by yet again. Typically, there were multiple bidders and they achieved 4x the top estimate and as the prices kept rising, I just couldn’t bring myself to bid again. As a result I



How difficult can placing a bid be?

With an ongoing interest in far too many coin series there is usually something suitable at most auctions for filling a gap in my sets with a quality coin however I have bought almost nothing for months. Even with some outstanding top-grade minors appearing I just do not seem to be able to press the ‘bid’ button one more time to try and secure these elusive examples for my collection and in some cases I am already regretting it. I think some possibilities for this, subconsciously or not, a



Another Discovery

In a vain attempt at sorting out auction catalogues at home I found a small book buried in their midst. This was 'Coins & Tokens of Tasminia 1803 - 1910' by Roger V. Neice. As a collector of British Colonial issues and those of the Napoleonic period it was refreshing to go through this again as it includes all the various types of 'money' that circulated in Tasminia with plenty of historical context conveying the variable fortunes of the island and its people. To say Napoleon's influenc



Working & coin collecting during lockdown

Like lots of people I am working from home at the moment, although this greatly restricts normal operations I thought that this would be a great opportunity to catch up on the vast amount of paperwork that needs doing and maybe even get ahead. An advantage of no longer needing to commute means I would also gain 2 & 1/2 hours each day which would be an unexpected chance to further research the coin series I collect. My experience so far has been that the 'work' tasks that now need to be do