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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Word Nerds

Working at a museum will certainly expand your vocabulary into realms you didn’t even know existed. You will shortly find that your newly acquired vocabulary is of very little use in the outside world. Trying to slip the quirky, specialist words into everyday conversation is more likely to result in raised eyebrows than elevated opinions.

Furrowed brows cause wrinkles. So, in the interest of helping you keep that lovely face of yours, I present my favourite museumy words;

Philately, n. Stamp collecting

Numismatic, adj. Of or relating to the study of coins and medals

Last uttered: Probably in the 1930s but both terms really belong more to the nineteenth century.

Lately I’ve been pouring over the pages of a number of books, including The First Dictionary of Paranumismatica by Brian Edge (or as I refer to it, A Guide to Coin-ish Things), trying to sort out some Georgian tokens which I hope to put on display in the Sun Lounge.

Some of the Georgian Tokens in our Collection

So far I’ve discovered that the tokens were minted by shop keepers and industrialists as a response to the shortage of government issued small change between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The wealthy land owners and merchant that generally made up parliament were satisfied with the official gold and silver coins they used on a daily basis and had no need for small change. The government basically ignored the coinage problem because they felt it had little to do with them.

With the rise of urbanisation and industrialisation, the demand for small change grew and eventually the government was forced to take action. In 1817, the Act of Suppression made the copper tokens illegal and official regal shillings and sixpence were issued to replace them.

 
Joanna

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