A few days ago somewhere in my travels I must have accepted a Polish coin in my change without checking. Obviously a sign of the times judging by the amount of Polish people there are working in this country at this moment in time. To find foreign coins is nothing new, especially living on the Thanet coast with the ports of Ramsgate and Dover nearby and our links with mainland Europe. Plus there is the centuries of trade between Thanet and mainland Europe that account for the more older coins that are occasionally found almost anywhere in Thanet.
I truly believe that being a coastal area and through our coastal links, the proportion of foreign coins to be found in Thanet is far greater than other parts of the country like Watford as an example.
Many of these coins even though foreign can represent a chapter in our local history. For example the abundance of nickel French francs from the late eighties and early nineties from the Sally Ferry days that can be picked up almost anywhere. Then there is the less noticeable amount of American coins I come across from the second world war period through to the early 1950's that could have originated from the American airmen based at Manston during that period.
Going even further back the amount of Napoleon III centimes that are in Thanet known as "French pennies" dated from the 1850's to early 1860's that turn up, which were probably linked to 19th century ferry services. The provenance is endless.
Other sources maybe from foreign seamen that have passed through our ports, even coins brought home by service men and women that have been passed from generation to generation have a story to tell.
Like most things these days one thing which I have not mentioned is value, and what is it worth ? The answer is pretty simple as every foreign coin is worth something whether it is scrap, face or collector value. In the majority of cases we could be looking at pence or less that £1. However, in some cases we can be looking at pounds. For example this Italian 5 lira coin which I come across recently is dated 1873 and is silver so it has a silver value of about £5.00 by weight. Near the date is a mint mark "M" which puts the value of the coin in that condition at around £13.00, if it was a "R" then I would be looking at around £150.00. This is just one example.
I suppose in these "austere" times perhaps it may be worth looking at the foreign coins kicking around the house, if you decide to have a rummage, check me out and I will give you an honest opinion.