Royal Mint to release new Samuel Pepys Two Pound Coin

Samuel Pepys

The restoration of the monarchy, the Great Fire of London, the Second Dutch War and the Great Plague – the seventeenth century was a turbulent time in British history. Our understanding of these events and, in particular, the people who lived through them is enriched by one first-hand account: the diary of Samuel Pepys.

Begun when he was very young and about to take up important government post as Clerk of the Acts of the Navy Board, Pepys’ diary offers a detailed and personal account of the 1660s. Samuel Pepys brought an end to the diary on 31 May 1669 because he was concerned that writing in low light was causing him to go blind. Now, 350 years after that last entry, we celebrate the man and his remarkable diary.

“And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal …”

The beginning of the last entry in Samuel Pepys’ diary, signed and dated 31 May 1669.

Worthless! Those commemorative coins you’ve stored away for years because Royal Mint tells banks not to take them

Every year the Royal Mint releases commemorative coins to celebrate anniversaries or events that are significant to Britain and its history. Most are to do with the Royal Family.

Check out the link below:

Uzbekistan to Issue New 10,000 Som Banknotes

On March 10, 2017 the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan will issue new banknotes in the denomination of 10,000 som made on the protected paper size of 144 x 78 mm.

On the wide white box on the right side of the banknote there is a watermark in the form of coat of arms of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the numbers “10000”.

To the left side of the white box is a windowed security thread with a 3D-effect. On the front of the bill in the upper part there is the text «O’ZBEKISTON RESPUBLIKASI MARKAZIY BANKI». On the left side are ornamental elements emblematic of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Under the coat of arms is a seven-digit number with a sequence of two letters.

In the left and right bottom corners of the ornamental frame, and also to the right of the coat of arms, the figure “10000” is shown, signifying the denomination. Above the figure “10000” on the right side of the coat of arms is written in large letters, the word “so’m”. Above this image specified denomination in words «O’N MING».


In the ornamental dark blue frame of the banknote can be found the inscription «O’ZBEKISTON RESPUBLIKASI MARKAZIY BANKI». The emblem, along with the number “10000” on the left and the right, are tactile features for the visually-impaired.

Above the number “10000” is a duplicated number and the banknote’s serial number.

At the top of the white box is a relief ornament in the form of a golden-bronze octahedron, a tactile feature that changes color depending on the angle of inclination.

Above the ornament is the year of release “2017”.

Ship ahoy! A first taste of life at sea – Sailor James Kidd

So what happened after Jim finished his basic training at HMS Ganges? Well we know from his service record that in November 1939, just a couple of months after war was declared, Jim was assigned to the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (motto: Glory is the Reward for Victory) and on 9th December sailed from Portsmouth to Scapa Flow. Christmas Day 1939 saw him stationed on the Clyde in Scotland….knowing dad he probably had a good time (he was always up for a party!), but New Year’s celebrations were probably more muted as by then the Berwick had sailed for the North West approaches on Atlantic deployment.

With brief periods of shore leave the Berwick remained in the North Atlantic until October 1940. During this time she was involved in a number of critical actions; in March 1940 she intercepted two German freighters, SS Wolfsburg and SS Uruguay ( SS Wolfsburg was disguised as the Norwegian ship ‘Aust’) north of Iceland. In both instances the German crews ‘scuttled’ their own ships to stop the Navy being able to use them – this meant that they set them on fire just as the boarding party were coming on board, and though all of the German crew members were rescued the Berwick had to sink the ships by gunfire before departing the area. The attached photograph shows a picture of the captain of the Uruguay on board the Berwick after being taken prisoner.

The Northern Patrols were famously harsh and crews were frequently freezing cold, wet and exhausted as some of the operations took place within the Arctic Circle. Add to that the constant vigilance required, the ever-present threat of German air attacks and in between the mind-numbing boredom of routine and lack of activity, and I’m pretty sure young Ordinary Seaman Kidd was wondering why on earth he ever signed up! Balanced against this though was the adrenaline rush and sheer terror I suppose when any hostile action commenced…and the sense of being part of something bigger.

In April 1940 the Berwick, along with HMS Rodney, Valiant, Warspite and Furious was taking troops to Norway (once the German invasion of Norway had been confirmed) when they came under heavy and sustained air attack. Another ship, HMDestroyer Gurkha was sunk – but the troops were landed safely. The Berwick then provided escort for the Furious  during air attacks on Trondheim; and later on in the same month took part in the first ever joint aircraft carrier operation with HM Aircraft Carriers Ark Royal and Furious, HM AA, Cruiser Curlew, and HM Destroyers Fearless, Fury, Hasty, Hereward, Hyperion and Juno during passage to the Norwegian coast for air operations. There were a few days of downtime after this however, as the Berwick was deployed as escort for the Ark Royal during its rest period off the Faro Islands at the end of April.

Next time I’ll tell you more about the Berwick’s further actions in 1940, including the significant Battle of Tarranto off the Italian coast.

It’s difficult to put oneself in the mindset of a mere teenager faced with such extraordinary circumstances. Having come from a fairly cosseted existence within his family, then the culture shock of basic training on the Ganges, then the harsh reality of life at sea and the distinct possibility of meeting a watery grave – and not yet 19. Sadly we don’t have any letters or diaries where dad might have recorded his innermost thoughts so can only guess; but this has really made me appreciate how hard it must be for service personnel to readjust when war is over, or their time in the forces comes to an end. My dad was always the most placid of people, with a ‘come day, go day’ fatalistic attitude towards life, and firmly believed that when it was your time to go there was no dodging the metaphorical (or actual) bullet…..maybe this was born of his experiences at war, understanding the randomness of who lived and who died and that at any second your number might be up…who knows. But it might also be the reason why he rarely stressed about anything and why he was always prepared to act the fool to raise a laugh. Amongst the many things I miss about him, his sense of humour ranks highly.

Well that’s all for now! I hope to be posting more soon and in the meantime, please take a look at ‘The Blog Proper’ page to find out the latest developments in our search for his medals.


So now having had chance to study the found service record in more detail I can start to flesh out the early years of Dad’s naval career.

We can see from the front page of the record that Dad’s date of volunteering was 22nd November 1938 when he would have been just 16 years and 16 days of age, and that the period volunteered for was 12 years. We know he would have left school at 14 and that he worked as an errand boy for a butcher situated on the Willenhall Road, very close to where he was born and still lived at number 60 (I think roughly opposite to the corner of Old Heath Road – the buildings are no longer there). The record states that he was sent to HMS Ganges, a shore-based training facility at Shotley near Ipswich, on the banks of the river Orwell. He was to remain there until 16th November 1939.

There is nothing to signify on his record that anything remarkable happened during his training, but thanks to his sister Doreen we know that he and a friend absconded once – they were found under a hedge by the naval police and returned to base! Jimmy’s mother received a letter from the base commander saying that Jimmy would be unable to write to her for a few weeks as he was in ‘jankers’ as a punishment. My guess is that he had a bit of reality check – he had after all come from a household of adoring females and was used to having everything done for him! It seems he wasn’t alone though in finding basic training tough…amongst his possessions we found the attached poem, ‘The Legend of the Ganges’, which portrays a rich picture of life as a ‘Boy’.

Can you Help find James (Sailor Jim’s) Kidd’s Medals

B and G Coins would like to help the family of War Hero James Kidd find his medals. Sailor Jim as he was known took part in the siege of Malta, a siege that nearly saw the Island brought to its knees by Germany through constant bombing, starvation and deprivation. It was an event that led to the Island and the brave peoples of Malta being awarded the George Cross. This is why you sometimes today see the initials G.C. following addresses on letters sent to Malta, a tradition that I am proud to uphold to this day.

Jim took part in this siege and was able to get through alive, something that many of his Naval friends and colleagues did not do, because the British fleet that were trying to resupply the Island with food, provisions, ammunition and manpower, found themselves sitting ducks in and around the harbours of Malta and were easy prey being picked off one by one by the Luftwaffe.

I will shortly be posting a couple more articles concerning Jim and ask you to please keep an eye out for his medals.

They were originally framed in a Group, but may have been broken up since. Clearly his WW2 medals will not be named, but his GSM and Korea medals will be.

If you have any information about them then please either contact us or Jim’s family directly, let us make a concerted effort and see if we cant help him with this.

A blog has been set up at

Thank you

VC and Military Cross at Auction

DNW has another highly sought-after medal in the March 2 sale: the good old VC.

This example of Britain’s highest-ranked military gallantry medal was awarded to Yorkshire hero George Sanders amid the horrific conditions of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
The VC will be offered with the Military Cross that he won later in the war and his other medals.
Sanders, who had enlisted in the Leeds Rifles, his local Territorial Battalion, took charge of an isolated party of men who were cut off as the British offensive on July 1, 1916, ground to a halt suffering more than 57,000 casualties, including 19,240 killed, in a single day. He and his band of 30 men fought off repeated German assaults over 36 hours despite having run out of food and water.
As an Acting Captain, he won the MC for his bravery during an overwhelming German assault at Kemmel Hill in April 1918. He was last seen standing wounded on the top of a pill-box rallying his men and firing his revolver at the Germans at point-blank range. Somehow he survived and was taken prisoner.
Sanders was the first Leeds Territorial to win the VC and received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his home city.
His medals have been consigned by a direct descendant based in the UK. To be sold with an archive of original documents and photographs, they are estimated at £180,000-220,000.

Rorke’s Drift medal and Somme Victoria Cross up at auction in London

London saleroom Dix Noonan Webb (DNW) offered a South Africa Medal 1877-79 awarded to Private Michael Minehan, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot, which sold for £70,000 hammer price (or £84,000 when buyer’s premium is added).
The price paid by a British private collector set a record for a Rorke’s Drift medal awarded to a defender who did not receive the Victoria Cross.
With only about 150 defenders involved in the 1879 action, South Africa medals awarded to Rorke’s Drift defenders have an obvious rarity value.
Just three months later, however, DNW has another: the medal with clasp for 1879 awarded to Driver Charles Robson, who was batman to the commanding officer Lieutenant John Chard during the epic defence.

It will be auctioned on March 1 with four original testimonial letters, including the one from Chard, several certificates, Robson’s Army Account Book and a bible presented by the Ladies’ Rorke’s Drift Testimonial Fund in 1879.
The lot was consigned by a direct descendant from the UK and is estimated at £30,000-40,000. It is believed that the consignment was secured because of the record Minehan result (that medal had been estimated at £26,000-30,000).


Civil war medal is treasure

THIS silver medal dating back to the English Civil War might find a home at Penrith and Eden Museum, an inquest heard.

The small artefact, which could soon go on public display, had remained buried for 375 years in a field at Kirkby Stephen.

The museum in Middlegate, Penrith, has expressed an interest in acquiring the find, which dates to between 1640 and 1675.

Museum curator Sydney Chapman said it was early days in the process and remained subject to a valuation by experts in London.

The medal was found on 20th April last year by Lancastrian metal detector enthusiast Mark Radcliffe on land owned by Stephen and Alan Ewbank, near Kirkby Stephen.

The pendant measures 26mm long by 20mm wide and weighs 2.8 grams. It contains in excess of 10 per cent. precious metal and would have been worn as a sign of royalist allegiance.

A special inquest was held in Kendal, when coroner Robert Chapman declared that the medal was officially treasure.

Mr. Chapman said: “There have been similar examples found elsewhere. All have been dated to the 17th Century and declared to be treasure and a number can be seen at the British Museum.”

Mr. Chapman said it was not certain how much the item was worth but a share of its value would be passed to the finder and landowner if sold.

The item bears the image of Charles I, who was king, while on the reverse is an impression of his wife, Henrietta Maria of France. Sewn into clothing or worn around the neck, it would have been fashionable item when loyalties were divided over how the country should be governed.

Archaeological finds in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are usually the property of the landowner, unless they are officially declared as treasure by a coroner. Museums also have the chance to express an interest in the find and must fund the reward to the finder and land owner.

Ancient Coin with Early Depiction of Colosseum Fetches Record Price at Dix Noonan Webb

By Dix Noonan Webb
An important collection of Roman bronze coins formed by a connoisseur before and during the Second World War and back on the market for the first time in 75 years attracted furious bidding at Dix Noonan Webb in London. Every single one of the 194 lots sold in an auction that made £810,726 ($1,007,412.18 USD) with buyers’ commission. The total hammer price of £675,605 ($839,510.15) was 437 per cent of the pre-sale low estimate – a record for Dix Noonan Webb.

The star of the auction was an extremely rare sestertius from the brief reign of Titus, who was Roman emperor from 79 to 81 CE. It is one of the most important Roman bronze coins available to the market with only 10 specimens of this type known, of which seven are in museums. It is a full grade finer than the only other example sold recently. The posthumous coin dating from circa 81 to 82 depicts the recently-completed Colosseum, which had been finished during the reign of Titus. The coin, which the man who assembled the collection bought in February 1939, had been expected to fetch £60,000 to £80,000 ($74,400-99,200), but a European private collector was prepared to pay £372,000 ($461,280) with commission (£310,000 hammer price) against strong competition.

Another sestertius depicting the emperor Hadrian addressing his British troops and dating from 134 to 138 CE (estimated at £3,000 to £4,000 [$3,720-4,960]) made £38,400 ($47,616) with commission (£32,000 hammer price). When it was last sold as part of the Drabble Collection in July 1939, the cataloguer, Albert Baldwin, described it as “possibly the finest known specimen”. The design of Hadrian haranguing his soldiers is found on a series of bronze coins from the mid-130s but the British issue is one of the rarest.

A very rare sestertius dating from the year 143 during the reign of Antoninus Pius (estimate £2,000 to £3,000 [$2,480-3,720]) and another bearing the head of the emperor Geta and minted in 210 (estimate £800 to £1,000 [$992-1,240]) both fetched £15,600 ($19,344) with commission (£13,000 hammer price) at the auction.

“Quality always tells,” said Christopher Webb, head of the coins department at Dix Noonan Webb, after the sale. “This collector had a good eye, was well advised and bought all the classic coins. Add to that the fact that the collection was fresh to the market as none of it had been seen since 1941 and the prices speak for themselves. It was a sensational result.”

The coins in this collection were assembled over a remarkably short period of eight years from 1933 to 1941, some of them being bought at London auctions during a time when the capital was under attack from the German Luftwaffe. The anonymous connoisseur was assisted by the renowned experts Herbert Seaby and Leonard Forrer as he brought together a group of Roman bronze coins that has been unavailable for study for three-quarters of a century.

Many of the coins have distinguished provenances. The connoisseur was a successful bidder at the London auctions of the collections of Christopher Corbally Browne and, most notably, the Rev. Edward Sydenham. Among the lots were pieces from the great continental sales of the 1920s and ’30s, including the collections formed by Clarence Bement, Franz Trau, Sir Arthur Evans, Captain Edward Spencer-Churchill, Howard Levis and Paul Vautier