The Historical use of Coin Tickets;


Thank you to the Authors – Robin J. Eaglen, Peter D. Mitchell & Hugh E. Pagan…


This paper arose from a conviction that a study, identifying the coin tickets written by notable collectors from the past and by major dealers in the British hammered series, would be both interesting & valuable. The ability to recognise such writing mainly resides in the expertise of those, particularly long-standing dealers, through whose hands large numbers of coins have passed over the years. Because this skill is largely unrecorded it is in danger of being lost with the passing of those possessing it. This was brought home to me with the recent loss of Douglas Mitchell of Baldwins who, at the time of his death, was the most senior member of the Society, and of Patrick Finn who for forty years had pursued a distinguished career as a professional numismatist and coin dealer.

Amongst the dealers some select themselves for inclusion as household names in the numismatic world. For others, the normal yardstick has been whether the firm or individual is or has been in the habit of issuing printed lists of coins for sale. Plate 10 reproduces two pages of Daniels’ copy of Verity’s catalogue of 1881, before Daniels became a dealer. From the Plates it will be clear that the authors have not always been able to find examples of tickets in the chosen collectors’ (or dealers’) handwriting. This may be through mischance or because such tickets no longer exist or never did. In a few instances, when the authors are uncer- tain of the attribution of handwriting, this is made clear in the biographical notes and a question mark has been placed after the name of the collector or dealer in the actual plates. Hopefully, an outcome of this paper will be to lead others to resolve these uncertainties.MUDDYHERITAGE107 (3)

1 – Relevance of coin tickets

Coin tickets are part of a coin’s identity and pedigree. A coin that has passed through one or more important collections is intrinsically more interesting – and potentially more valuable than a similar coin of unknown background. Nowadays, the increased price of coins and the ease of photographic reproduction have led to the widespread illustration of all but the commonest coins offered through dealers’ lists and auc- tion catalogues. This helps in establishing the lineage of a coin and may enable the collector or scholar to determine if separate references to seemingly identical coins do indeed refer to the same coins or not. The answer to this question is of value to the dealer and collector in assessing rarity and to the scholar in attempting to draw conclusions from the study of surviving coins. Individual coins now considered important enough to be fully described and illustrated were often, in the past, grouped together in a lot or batch with, perhaps, the odd one or even none being illustrated. This is seen, for example, not only in the great Montagu and Murdoch sales a century ago but even as late as the Lockett sales between 1955 and 1961.2 Added to this, the coin descriptions in auction catalogues were often rudimentary and the transcription of legends unreliable or incorrect. Indeed not all modern cataloguing is immune from this canker. The survival of tickets may help to detect such inaccuracies as well as avoiding double counting of individual coins when studying survival and output. As a general rule, no coin should be treated as having a distinct and certain existence unless the coin itself or adequate illustrations, photographs, rubbings or casts of it are available to endorse its separate identity. With such strict criteria, knowledge of lineage through tickets may help to elucidate if a coin known by description alone is to be presumed unaccounted for, or is to be identified with a coin known today. There must be concern that increasing use of the website by dealers to describe and illustrate coins on offer may result in a less permanent record of such offerings being accessible.

 Use of tickets

In the modern world, coins began to be collected and housed in cabinets from the IMG_4827Renaissance onwards. The earliest collectors were princely laymen and ecclesiastics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The spread of antiquarian study in the eighteenth century led to a wider range of collectors whose interest extended beyond the Greek and Roman periods and medals. During the nineteenth century the expansion of interest continued, stimulated by the discovery of hoards and more sophisticated attempts to classify the surviving coins. Both the collecting and study of
British hammered coins presented a satisfying challenge. From the biographical summaries in this paper it will be apparent that from late in the nineteenth century dedicated coin collectors were to be found from many walks of life. The cost of coins in those days meant that it was possible for someone of relatively modest means to amass an impressive collection which only the very wealthy could hope to match today.


It is uncertain when the first coin tickets came to be used. Although square tickets occur, they are mostly round, to fit circular recesses in cabinet trays. The Browne Willis collection at the  Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is housed in mid-eighteenth century cabinets with circular recesses. The tickets, which are roughly hand-cut, are written in a contemporary hand although whether that  of Browne Willis or of an eighteenth century curator, after the coins were donated to the university, is not known. They are, however, the earliest which the authors have so far encountered in the  British hammered series… Eighteenth century tickets accompanying ex Browne Willis coins at the Ashmolean Museum.  It is probable that a number of early collectors kept hand lists of their coins rather than making out tickets. This appears to be so with William Hunter, whose coins passed to Glasgow in 1807s  and with Sarah Sophia Banks, whose collection passed to the British Museum in 1886. She kept a somewhat untidy register of acquisitions and two manuscript catalogues also exist. The latter of  these, annotated later by the British Museum, appears to be in her own hand (Plate 11). The  drawback of catalogues is their inflexibility and this obviously stimulated the use of tickets. This  drawback was overcome by such collectors as Morrieson (who also used tickets) by employing  an album into which hand written strips could be inserted, a system marketed by the Kalamazoo Company before the invention of word processing (Plate 12).

Doubtless, the publication of detailed classifications of coins in the hammered series would  also have encouraged the use of tickets, to record more esoteric distinctions not apparent without careful scrutiny of a coin or exceptional powers of memory. Hawkins published a first edition of The Silver Coins of England in 1841, shortly after the third edition of Ruding’s Annals7  Further editions, by Hawkins’ grandson R.L. Kenyon, followed in 1876 and 1887. Meanwhile, in 1846, Hildebrand published his Anglo – sachsiska Mynt, of which the definitive, augmented edition in use to this day appeared in 1881.8 In 1887 Burns’ Coinage of Scotland appeared in three volumes9 and, the same year, Keary’s Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Coins in the British Museum in two volumes.10 This was followed in 1916 by Brooke’s catalogue of the Norman Kings.11 His later, more general work on English Coins classified the issues he described and for a time was widely used for reference purposes, as Hawkins (‘Hks’) had been previously  –  12 More recently, of course, apart from BMC numbering, the numeration given in the Seaby Catalogue of British Coins, now published by Spink  –   13 and in North’s English Hammered Coinage14 have been popular, particularly with some dealers. It is nowadays most unusual for a coin of any consequence to be offered by a dealer without a ticket, although not necessarily accompanied by any earlier tickets. 4 SCBI Ashmolean, Anglo-Saxon Pennies (London, 1967), pp. xiii-xiv. 5 SCBI Hunterian and Coats Collections, University of Glasgow (London, 1961), I, p. xii. 6 SCBI British Museum, Anglo-Saxon Coins (London, 1986), V, p. xi. 7 Revd Rogers Ruding, Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain & its Dependencies, 3rd edn, 3 vols (London, 1840). 8 Bror Emil Hildebrand, Anglosachsiska Mynt (Stockholm, 1881). 9 E. Burns, The Coinage of Scotland, 3 vols (Edinburgh, 1887). 10 Charles Francis Keary, A Catalogue of English Coins in the British Museum, Anglo-Saxon Series, edited by Reginald Stuart
Poole, 2 vols (London, 1887). ” George Cyril Brooke, A Catalogue of Coins in the British Museum, the Norman Kings, 2 vols (London, 1916). 12 George C. Brooke, English Coins (London, 1932). 13 Spink, Standard Catalogue of British Coins, Coins of England and the United Kingdom, 37th edn (London, 2002). 14 J.J. North, English Hammered Coinage, 3rd edn, I (London, 1994), II (London, 1991).

Accordingly, I approached Peter Mitchell who readily agreed to contribute his unrivalled ability to recognise coin tickets, garnered from forty-eight years of experience at Baldwin’s. I also approached Hugh Pagan who most generously offered to draw upon his extensive researches into the activities and backgrounds of notable collectors to provide biographical details of those to be included in the study. Without these vital contributions this paper could not have been written. The great debt owed by the authors to others is recorded in the acknowledgements below. R.J.E. Scope of the study this paper is devoted to the British hammered series and the authors hope that it will encourage experts in other series – such as milled coins and tokens – to carry out a similar study. This paper sets out to identify and illustrate the tickets written in the hands of notable deceased collectors and the personnel of leading UK-based dealers in the series of hammered coins, and to provide biographical notes on the collectors and dealers represented. The paper makes no pretence at completeness. The collectors included are those considered by the authors as ‘major’ and who were no longer living when we wrote this, at the end of 2001. Where notable collections have been donated to or acquired by museums in their entirety – such as those of William Hunter and Sarah Sophia Banks – they have been excluded regardless of importance, for examples of their tickets (if they exist) will not come into the hands of later collectors. Beyond this, the authors freely recognise that through misjudgment or oversight certain collections may have been omitted which others consider have a persuasive claim to be represented.


Acknowledgements: This paper would not have been possible without the enthusiastic co-operation of many persons. In the museum world thanks are due to John Allan (Exeter), Dr Martin Allen (Fitzwilliam), Marion Archibald (formerly of British Museum). Donal Bateson (Glasgow), Dr Simon Beal (Liverpool), Edward Besly (Cardiff), Dr Mark Blackburn (Fitzwilliam), Frank Caldwell (Tamworth), Dr Barrie Cook (British Museum), Adam Daubney (Lincoln), Dr John Davies (Norwich), Dr Geoffrey Denford (Winchester), Dominic Farr (Stafford), Nicholas Holmes (Edinburgh), Ann Inscker (Nottingham), Dr Nicholas Mayhew (Ashmolean). Stephen Nye (Rochester), Dan Robinson (Chester), Roger Shelley (Derby), David Symons (Birmingham), Catherine Walling (Hastings), Sarah Wear (Warwick), and Stephen Whittle (Blackburn); amongst those in (or associated with) the numismatic trade, past and present, Edward Baldwin, Lloyd Bennett, Lawrence Brown, Garry Charman, Peter Clayton, Thomas Curtis, Paul Dawson, Christopher Denton, Linda Finn, Brian Grover, Robert Ilsley, Christopher Martin, Eric McFadden, Stephen Mitchell, Peter Preston- Morley, Simon Porter, Mark Rasmussen, Alan Rayner, Colin Rumney, Douglas Saville, Mark Senior, Robert Sharman, Michael Sharp, May Sinclair, Nigel Tooley, Michael Trennery, Michael Vosper and Paul Withers; and amongst numismatists. Dr Christopher Challis, William Clarke, Robert Grayburn, John Hartridge, William Lean, Robert Thompson and Peter Woodhead. Special thanks are due to Richard Varnham of Vale Coins and Terence Robertson, who generously made available their own albums of tickets, the former compiled with the help of Christopher Comber; to Ian, Lord Stewartby for help with and providing tickets for Scottish collectors, to Jenny Eaglen who typed the introduction, and to Dr Barrie Cook, Jeffrey North and Stewart Lyon, for supplying the material for Plates 11, 10 and 12, and 13 respectively. The authors take sole responsibility for errors of commission or omission to which such a potentially boundless study is inexorably prone.

The obituary’s of Douglas Mitchell, see NCirc, April 2000, and of Patrick Finn… (December, 2000). With a special acknowledgement and thank you to Ivan Buck, a coin dealing enthusiast for his knowledge and expertise in the use of all things numismatic….

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