Coin Collecting

Though quite a Europhile, I'll willingly admit

One thing the single currency just cannot do

Though, sadly, truth to tell, the self-same problems sit

Within the British monetary system, too.


I was a coin-collector, as a geeky kid;

I scoured for specie in my pockets from loose change

Which in those times so many of us children did

Though numismatic hobbies nowadays seem strange.


Back then, in that half-faded halcyon bygone age

Before February fifteenth, nineteen seventy one,

When workers earned much less, a leaner living wage,

Paid Friday night, then spent before the week was gone.


We still had pennies then, thick solid copper jobs,

Twelve summed a shilling, twenty shillings per the pound.

Six pennies to the tanner, twelvepence made a bob,

While two-and-sixpence totalled up to half-a-crown.


Two shillings were a florin and, with some good luck,

You'd find a silver thruppence, called a joey, which

Mum hid in Christmas puddings, feeling like you'd struck

Gold in the desert, though you'd not be strictly rich!


These, plus old ha'pennies and the much more common brass

Twelve-sided thruppenny bits, completed all the set;

Though finer farthings had gone out of tender, stashed

Down backs of old settees, you might unearth one yet.


So there it was: old money, dating to the days

Of venerable Victoria and, more rarely, one

Worn smooth, from the four Georges, just might wend my way,

A schoolboy's treasure trove, those years so long since gone.


I'd pick them up from popping to the village shop

For blackjacks, penny chews and sherbet dabs, sweets that

Would rot my teeth; for some I'd trawl the kerb for dropped

Loose change; yet more were gifts from uncles: Jack, Tom, Matt.


My summer holidays provided one more chance

To fill the gaps, blank dates I eagerly desired:

The Slot machines and tumbling Penny Falls which danced

In dim Arcades, Amusements near Scarborough's South side.


I still possess, in leather-bindings, tucked away

Deep in a drawer, in mother's terraced weaver's home

Those squirrelled savings, sadly tarnishing today

Forgotten farthings, pennies, ha'pennies all alone.


Our modern infants don't have opportunity

To find such ancient coinage in the daily round:

The Euro's cash does not outspan this century

While British currency's just passing forty, now.


They are denied excitement which I once enjoyed:

The thrill of new discoveries from long-lost times,

That loosened links with history; these girls and boys

Have missed the mystery which magically was mine.


◄ Aurora

Inspiration from Bronte Country ►


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Sun 29th Jan 2012 21:51

I was a coin collector too - and have a lot of those same coins you talk about :) My mum was a taxi driver for a period of time - she'd always try to get foreign currency when she could. There was something magical about foreign money - any money in fact...

I love the nostalgia in your poem. Perhaps collecting things is a bit out of fashion nowadays - my kids start to do it but then forget - there's no real passion there. I think it may have something to do with them all having a lot more and not needing a treasure box quite so much.

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John Coopey

Sat 28th Jan 2012 09:33

Richard, I collect money too.
I have a pocket file of different £1 and £2 coins.The kids can't wait till I'm dead to spend it.

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