Berwick man's coins to go under the hammer

A collection of coins, with the oldest dating to before the Norman Conquest, will be one of the major highlights of the Anderson & Garland Fine Arts Sale.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 18 March, 2016, 11:42
A collection of coins, with the oldest dating to before the Norman Conquest, will be one of the major highlights of the Anderson & Garland Fine Arts Sale later this month. The collection belonged to the late Peter Middlemiss and is being sold on behalf of his widow, Fritha, a vicar who lives in Berwick.

The massive collection contains many coins from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that are in remarkable condition despite their great age.

There are also a number of ‘tokens’ – commonly given as wages to workers including miners, which specified where they could be spent.

The collection belonged to the late Peter Middlemiss and is being sold on behalf of his widow, Fritha, a vicar who lives in Berwick.

She said: “My husband inherited most of the coins from his father, who died in the 1960s. His father had particular interest in collecting the crown pieces representing most English reigns.

“The only one missing was Elizabeth I. We did look for one but we couldn’t find one we could afford.

“My husband’s interest was in their historical significance. He had parties and showed them around, before he knew how valuable they were. He had pieces he used in talks about the history of Berwick – he would say: ‘The coat of arms on the barracks is the same as this one’, or ‘We had Ireland but not Scotland on the coat of arms at this point’.”

The coins are being sold in almost 60 lots (717-775) during the Anderson & Garland three-day sale in Newcastle from 22-24 March. As a whole, the collection has an estimated value of £15,000.

Anderson & Garland auctioneer, Fred Wyrley-Birch, said: “The rare milled coins are especially collectible because they are in such good condition. They are ‘fine’ examples, which is very rare for coins of this age. Early coinage, especially in the 17th century, had quite a high silver content and was worn easily.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“There are some quite high value coins that are in pristine condition. The earliest is from 1042 – there are only handfuls of these hammered coins around.”

The collection also includes bank tokens, which were given to workers by their employers to control where they spent their money. Commonly used by colliery owners, they meant that miners could only use the tokens in certain shops in the local area – invariably ones owned by the mine owner they were working for.

Anderson & Garland is expecting strong international interest in the collection.

“Coins are relatively transportable, easily traded and more and more are coming onto the market,” said Mr Wyrley-Birch.

“But it’s quite difficult to find collections like this.”

Mrs Middlesmiss is also selling her late husband’s Jaques & Sons chess set at the auction. The Staunton chess set is the larger and rarer of the models made by the company and is expected to attract widespread interest from collectors. The difference half and inch makes between this set and the next set down is around £800.

For more information, please visit www.andersonandgarland.com.