Last month we announced that we were working on a podcast as part of our Coins and the Sea project. This month the exciting job of interviewing our expert guests began with a trip to Portsmouth. Our roving reporters, David Mason and Susie Sandford, first visited the National Museum of the Royal Navy to speak to Senior Curator, Victoria Ingles, about life at sea and the realities of press gangs. After a fascinating chat and a tour of the collection they navigated their way through the blustery conditions across the dockyard to The Mary Rose Museum. There they were treated to a gallery tour by Curator, Hannah Matthews and Head of Research, Alex Hildred. Conversation ranged from the difficulties of diving on the Mary Rose, her life as the flag ship of Henry VIII and what the remains of her crew can tell us about the diversity of Tudor England, with a spot of myth-busting along the way.

March will bring even more interviews and visits and we can’t wait to share them with you. Make sure you keep your ears open for the podcast when it lands in June 2024!

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February has been a busy one for the team as we shared stories from the history of the Royal Mint to a wide range of people. Our Information and Research team gave tours of the Museum collection to visitors from as far away as Ghana, Uganda and Qatar as well as giving a talk about Great Engravers to colleagues at the Royal Mint. Our Education Manager, Amy Williams, talked to visitors from the Ministry of Defence in relation to our recycling and sustainability projects.

We had visits from our colleagues from 886 who were researching the history of British craftmanship and two new members of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, Dr Alexandra Harris and Adam Dant. Last but definitely not least we were able to give something back to our local community with talks for Pentrych Historical Society, Oakdale Historical Society, and Blaenavon Senior Citizens Club. If you would like a talk from one of our curators, online or in person, just contact us. We accept donations but all our talks are free to the public.

Medal Collection

This month our medal collection was enhanced by a generous donation from collector Derek Noakes. He has collected items relating to his native London for many years and one aspect of this centred on the passes of the London Institution, an organisation devoted to the advancement of learning.

The Institution initially issued membership passes in ivory. But from 1832 it ordered the manufacture of bronze passes bearing a design by William Wyon showing a seated figure of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom.

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The passes allowed members access to the library, to the lectures and other facilities offered by the Institution, and members would often loan them to friends. Derek’s collection contained no less than 111 of these passes carefully stored, ticketed and provenanced in several trays.

Over years of research Derek built up not only a collection of passes, obtained from a variety of sources, but also an archive of records, including copies of birth certificates, details of careers and achievements of members of the Institution. This archive also formed part of his generous donation to the Museum and amounts to a social as well as an institutional history of a prominent nineteenth-century organisation, carefully pieced together through the determined and scholarly commitment of one man.

Central Saint Martins University of the Arts

Our Education Manager, Amy Williams, and Research and Information Manager, Chris Barker, took a trip to London this month to visit Central Saint Martins University of the Arts where they delivered a presentation to students connected with a project on coin design.

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As part of their course, the Typography and Graphic Communications students, are currently creating their own set of definitive reverse coin designs to reflect their personal interpretation of modern British identity.

Amy and Chris were able to discuss ideas with the students and put coin design into a historical context. Further visits are planned at a later stage in the project which will include a member of the Royal Mint’s design team to talk more about the technical aspects of designing a coin.

After the visit Amy said ‘It was a great experience sharing our passion for coin design and history with an enthusiastic group of young people and to see them looking at coins in a new way.’

Bank of England

This month our Collections Manager, Sarah Tyley, was happy to help with the loan of objects made from e-waste for the Bank of England Museum’s exhibition ‘The Future of Money’.

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The exhibition looks at the way our use of money has changed in recent decades though the use of digital and contactless payment. ‘From digital currencies to the importance of cash in our everyday lives, from sustainability to making sure we have choice and access to different ways to pay, this exhibition responds to questions you have been asking. So, where are we now, and what is the future of money?’

‘The Future of Money’ opened on Wednesday 28 February 2024. The exhibition, and the entire Bank of England Museum, is free with no need to book ahead so what are you waiting for?

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