Saturday, 14 January 2012

Margate sea defence works- something else to look out for.

When I first took up digging the Thanet coastline seriously I started finding items at a phenomenal rate and it was nothing to find a hundred items in one session. In the course of a year I would literally have thousands of items all neatly boxed, stored and recorded. Then one day when I had the lot all laid out it occurred to me that the vast majority of my finds were mostly generic and mostly massed produced. Some items could be over 150 years old and others like a box of farthings for example are what they are a box farthings each having very little detailed history or provenance.This soon led me to study local history and examine everything I found in detail to try to establish some history to any item I found.After a while I was able place some history to some items which gave the item some provenance. In time a pattern of finds would emerge that pinpointed areas that produced more items that would have some associated history. These areas turned out to be the site of the Marine Palace destroyed on the 29th November 1897, the Jarvis Jetty built 1824, and Margate Jetty and the Harbour area where the sea defence works are taking place today. I have mentioned bottles and their origins so the next item to be found in the sea defence works area has be coins. Even though coins are massed produced there is always some history behind some of them. They do not even have to be valuable as in the case of coins that have been personalized.

Many years ago working people did not own much and lived in chronic poverty due to ruthless exploitation. Owning very little, a gift to each other like a love token, talisman or souvenir etc., people would deface a low denomination coin with an inscription like a name or initials or just pierce the coin to act as medallion or charm. The coin I have scanned is a good example and very interesting, it is a copper Irish halfpenny dated 1822 made from Cornish copper and minted at Matthew Boulton’s Soho mint in Birmingham. Judging by the circulation wear it must have been pierced sometime in the 1840’s and looks like any other pierced coin. Closer examination shows the crown has been defaced and the date removed leaving only an Irish Harp. As the coin is struck in coin alignment and not in medal alignment the head of the monarch George IV hangs upside down. All done deliberately I suspect by someone who has a low regard for the British monarchy.

In the past I have come across many coins of a personalized nature, not all have been finds as some are a result of house clearances or auctions. However, I do view the Margate sea defence work an ideal opportunity to find some personalized coins with a Margate provenance.

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