Maundy coin set

Maundy Money and Mammoth Steaks – Memories of Allan Davies

In my “Isaacs Cabinet” writings, I traditionally highlight a particular coin in my personal collection and the memories surrounding its acquisition. With the passing just over a week ago of long-time friend and colleague Allan Davies, I have chosen instead to highlight a couple memories of the man himself, intricately connected as they still may be to my winding numismatic path of the past 35 years.

As I have written in earlier recollections, Al was the first coin dealer I had ever done trade with.  Shortly after settling in the city around 1980, I met Al through the City of Ottawa Coin Club.  A knowledgeable vest-pocket dealer – I believe still working for the Federal Government at that time – Al became a trusted source in my quest for interesting early English coins.  I recall he would even make house-calls to indulge the collecting passions of a teenage collector, a testament as I now reflect to his patience and accommodating nature.

Maundy coinAnything pre-Victorian captivated me at the time, and one of the earliest items I purchased from Al on my limited budget was a delightful four-piece set of Queen Anne “Maundy” coinage. Held once per year since at least the middle ages, the “Royal Maundy” became a ceremony in the Church of England in which the reigning monarch or his/her representative distributed a small amount of special coinage to selected elderly recipients.

A complete Maundy set consists of the four silver coins, denominations one through four Pence, with the smallest denomination measuring a mere 12mm in diameter (“cute” is a term I am not embarrassed to use in describing these delightful tiny sets).  With varying dates of 1708-1710, the set Alan had procured for me was housed in a later, very quaint original Maundy case of the Victorian period.

It remains a prized part of my now eclectic collection, and in the ensuing years I have acquired only one other Maundy set, a 2000-dated example of Elizabeth, with almost 300 years of history between the two Queens. Interestingly, to this day the current Royal Maundy coinage continues to be the only issues of the British Commonwealth to bear the original 1953 portrait of Queen Elizabeth.  Although Allan’s much-respected expertise lay in the field of Canadian colonial tokens, in those early days I knew him mainly as my personal purveyor of nice early English coinage.

Later, as a dealer myself, although my travels with Allan were quite infrequent, I do look back fondly on one particular “road-trip” memory.  He, Paul Davis and I had traveled to the Chicago Coin Fair, somewhere around 1990 or so, and found ourselves at the iconic Chicago Chophouse for dinner.  I don’t recall whether through challenge or simple youthful gluttony, but Al and I found ourselves facing off with absurdly-large 32oz steaks.

Now, Allan was not a small man, but looking back with the objectivity of time, I expect he and I were at that sweet spot of intersecting capacities.  Myself, likely at the peak of a 23-year-old’s bottomless appetite, and Allan perhaps on a somewhat tapered trajectory in which the mature male no longer requires the 4,000 daily caloric consumption of youth. At any rate – and as lame as it perhaps is to see myself write this – just about the only memory I have from our Chicago trip was cleanly putting away that 32oz mammoth, and then finishing off the third of Al’s steak that he had left aside. Whether that dinner earned me pride or shame I’m not entirely certain, but the memory still prevails of a great meal with great company.

I would see Al at shows in the ensuing years, and most recently had him over to the house a couple months ago when he kindly offered a new home to our two younger cats, who would keep him company until his untimely passing.  Increasingly I find myself wondering where the years truly go, and am grateful for having met Allan in those early formative years.

Rest in peace, Sir.  Your memory will remain clear in both our hobby and our hearts.

Sean Isaacs

The next ebay sale is about to launch for AllianceCoin

The Return of Our “Weird & Wonderful” Sales!!

We are delighted to announce our next offering of interesting medals, tokens and related oddities on eBay, scheduled to launch at midnight this coming Sunday, October 14th.

Look us up under our eBay user name “Alliancecoin” or jump right in on our eBay auction page Alliance Coin.

Sean Isaacs

Last Chance for a Sneak Peek of our Live Auction items

We have just added another couple of rounds of pictures to the website today, and this is your last chance for a sneak peek before tomorrow’s Live Auction! All 620 lots are available on our website and we’ve received many advance bids (which you can view on the site).

Click here to view all 620 lots for tomorrow’s Live Auction

Please note: It’s a delightfully busy time in our town and the weather is glorious. Make sure you arrive a few minutes early to ensure a good parking spot.

Live Auction

Sunday, June 10th, 2018
10am start | 12-1pm lunch | Auction will end when we’re done!
Almonte Old Town Hall – Main Concert Hall
14 Bridge Street, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0

Live Auction – Online & Open for Advance Bidding

All 620 lots for our rapidly approaching Live Auction are now available on our website, many with pictures (which we continue to add), and we are inviting advance bids.

Click here to preview of selected auction highlights on our website. You can also review Terms of Sale, etc. on the site.

Please note: print catalogues will only be available on the day of the Auction.

We have a rough plan of 10am to 3pm, but in reality we may end quite a bit earlier. If you are serious about one or more items, we really recommend arriving earlier. The lunch break at 12 is a great time to stroll around the town and grab a bite to eat at one of the many fine eateries.

Live Auction
Sunday, June 10th, 2018
10am start | 12-1pm lunch | Auction will end when we’re done!
Almonte Old Town Hall – Main Concert Hall
14 Bridge Street, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0

 

We look forward to seeing you this coming weekend!

2018 Annual Live Coin Auction

I am delighted to report that we continue to steam ahead with preparations for our second annual Alliance Coin & Banknote live public auction, to be held in the Almonte Old Town Hall on Sunday June 10th.

The sale will begin at 10:00 am, with a one-hour break for lunch at noon, before continuing at 1:00 pm.

2018 Live Coin Auction posterThis will be a very diverse sale of 500+ lots, representing virtually every area of the coin, banknote, medal and token fields, as well as some truly unusual items in our “Artifacts,  Collectibles & Bulk Lots” category. With estimates ranging from $10 into the thousands, there will be something offered for every collecting level and budget.

Please note that due to the unfortunate delayed receipt of some important Canadian material, printed sale catalogues will not be available until the actual weekend of the auction. Fortunately, however, complete listings will be available for both viewing and advance bidding on our website by mid-week prior to the auction, once we are able to complete the catalogue and assign final lot numbers.  We do sincerely apologize for the resulting very tight timing, but remain confident you will find it worth the wait.

Beginning this Tuesday the 29th, we are delighted to begin featuring a preview of selected auction highlights on our website, which will continue to expand as we move towards final completion of sale preparations.

Additionally, we invite our local customers to visit us for a preliminary viewing of available lots, this coming weekend.  Alliance Coin & Banknote will be open both Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 to 5:00, for your viewing pleasure.

Live Auction: Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Selected items online for preview: Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Live Preview In-store: Saturday, June 2nd & Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

 

As always, my family, staff and I warmly thank you for your continued patronage, and I look forward to your participation in our impending public sale!

Sincerely,

Sean Isaacs

 

Alliance’s 2018 Winter Catalogue

With two weeks of mad processing behind us, I am delighted to release our 2018 Winter Catalogue of coins and banknotes. This is the largest price-list we have ever produced, with more than 1,600 items from our diverse world-wide inventory.

I do encourage our customers to respond as quickly as possible on any items of interest, as response is anticipated to be fairly intense.  Please note that all offerings in this catalogue will remain valid until March 31st, and the beginning of our spring show season.

Catalogue & Order Form

Download the complete 2018 Winter Catalogue
Download the 2018 Order Form

From the Isaacs Cabinet: A Farthing fit for a King

The venerable British “Farthing” denomination was first introduced in the thirteenth century under Henry III, and formed an integral part of the English coinage system fairly consistently for a remarkable run of seven hundred years. Only in 1956 during the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, would the final Farthings come off the press.

Although struck in Silver for the first 300 years or so, the economic realities facing this lowest of denominations (equivalent to ¼ Penny) inevitably saw a conversion to being struck in Copper (and eventually Bronze) during the reign of Charles I in the 1620s. Under his son Charles II, it would be 12 years into his reign before intense demand for fractional coinage resulted in the first issue of circulating farthings featuring the famous “seated Britannia” design in 1672, with the coin’s date located on the reverse beneath her. The above not-withstanding, however, this was not technically the first Farthing struck under the younger Charles’s reign.

Several years earlier, in 1665, a scarce pattern Farthing was officially struck in fine Silver utilizing a design by John Roettier, which the later copper circulating issues would very much mirror. These Silver patterns utilized a left-facing portrait of the King based on an Ancient Roman Sestertius coin of Antoninus Pius, while the reverse depicted a seated portrait of Britannia holding a spear and resting on a shield. The Duchess of Richmond modelled for this figure of Britannia, and it is written by Count de Grammont (French Nobleman and memoirist) that “the King was a noted admirer of her legs”.  A notable distinction on these pattern strikings, however, was the location of the date below the obverse portrait, rather than beneath Britannia as would soon become the norm.

Although issued as patterns, the majority of know specimens are found among the circulated grades, thus the series clearly saw some degree of actual circulation (presumably at a notably higher accepted value than their later base-metal cousins). As a young collector and enthusiast of British coinage, I had never encountered these patterns until the early 1980s. It was about that time that the Ottawa numismatic landscape was expanded by the opening of Paul Nadin-Davis’s walk-in office on the upper floor of a downtown Metcalfe office building. As I have mentioned in my earlier writings, I was intrigued by virtually anything in pre-Victorian British coinage, as such offerings only occasionally surfaced in the inventory of my usual weekly haunt, Sears Coin & Stamp in the Carlingwood Shopping Centre.

It was on one of my first visits to Paul’s office that he showed me an attractive VF’ish example of the coin, the earliest British piece I had held in my hands to that point. It was intriguing, old, and scarce — the “triple-threat” to any young collector. I knew I had to have it, although at a couple hundred dollars or so, I also know I couldn’t afford it on that particular day.

“No problem” said Paul, suggesting I put a hundred dollars down and take a month or two to pay off the balance. I happily agreed, filled out some paperwork, and then –- to my significant surprise — he told me to take the coin with me.

I wouldn’t fully appreciate its significance on that particular day, however the extension of both payment flexibility and rather remarkable trust would profoundly shape my own later business philosophy, and in these past 18 years, faith in the integrity of my own customers continues to foster both mutual goodwill as well as enhanced enjoyment of the hobby from both sides of the counter. Sure, I have colleagues that would continue to suggest this is naïve in our 21st-century business environment, however I have always felt I would stand by this philosophy until the day the bonds of reasonable trust became shattered — and that day, I’m pleased to say, has yet to come.

I still own my Charles II pattern Farthing, and it remains one of the most treasured pieces within my small but thoughtfully-assembled collection of English Silver coinage.

Sean Isaacs

My thanks to “Coincraft’s Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins, 1066 to date”, by Richard Lobel, et al.