Saturday, 17 June 2017


The British Commonwealth -

Many people start collecting the coins of their own country and then either go back in time or travel the world (speaking collectively). In the 1960s and 1970s it was easy to get some commonwealth coins imply from the coins in your pocket. A South African penny, Australian sixpence or New Zealand half crown. They were same size as British coins. You could put together quite a collection. Nowadays things have changed. You occasionally find Gibraltar pounds or Channel Islands money in your pocket. I once got an Ascension Island 50 p.

I suppose most people would just pass these on in their change as quickly as possible but the budding coin collector or even the more experienced one will put them aside.

The theme for our meeting today was coins of the Commonwealth. Members brought year sets from Canada, India, New Zealand and Falklands. Single coins were well represented. There were some fascinating early issues which were cut or countermarked Spanish dollars. I knew these were used in the Caribbean but had no idea they were also used in Gibraltar and Prince Edward Island.

Why did colonies have their own coins and not just use British issues? The answer is it was illegal to export British currency for many years. Local merchants sent goods to England and agents here would sell them and send manufactured goods to the colonies. Capital stayed in Britain. It was not until recently that colonies and commonwealth states had their own currency. Sometimes it was based on sterling or a local currency such as rupee or dollar.


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