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The Copper, Tin, and Broze Coinage of England
H Montagu, F.S.A, , 1893
Preface to the First Edition

Preface to the First Edition

The work, which I introduce by mans of these pages to my fellow workers in Numismatics, needs no apology from me, either for its limited nature as a whole, or for any of its shortcomings in points of detail. There has been a great demand for something of the kind, and however imperfect the present essay may be, I believe without, I hope, undue vanity that it will serve to stop a gap in the shelves of many who, in common with myself, take an interest in the British Series of Coins. I think it right to state at the outset that I cannot claim entire originality for a great deal of what is contained in the following pages. In 1864 the late Rev. Professor Henry Christmas compiled a somewhat similar work, and caused it to be printed. The bulk of the printed copies of his book, which was never in fact published, came to an untimely end, and only three or four copies have survived. The blocks for the engravings and the copyright of the work fell into the hand of my publishers, and at their request I have utilized not only those blocks, but also substantial portions of the written matter contained in the book. There has been much, both in the arrangement and in the detail of the work, which I could not adopt; the additions are numerous and important; the corrections, very considerable; and there are such other serious modifications and so much original matter introduced, that it would be an injustice both to the memory of Mr. Christmas and to myself to launch my literary efforts as a second edition, or even as a revised edition, of that gentleman's treatise. Had he survived to complete his work, I have no doubt that my own lucubrations would have been rendered unnecessary.

I have not thought it expedient to deal with the Romano-British copper coins, as these are fully treated of by Akerman and other writers; nor could I attempt to describe the Ancient British copper coins, without plagiarizing the deservedly well-known book on Ancient British Coins, by Mr. John Evans, President of the Numismatic Society, who has left nothing unsaid concerning this most interesting portion of our native series. The Anglo-Saxon stycas are also sufficiently described in Ruding's Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and elsewhere. In limiting, therefore, my operations to the description of our copper, tin and bronze series from the time of Elizabeth, I am trespassing only upon ground already covered with any degree of seriousness by Mr. Christmas and by our common predecessor Thomas Snelling, to whose marvellous researches into all branches of numismatics more praise is due than is usually awarded.

In dealing with the coins composed of tin and its alloys, I have applied the common name of tin coins to all, although it is obvious that some would more properly be described as of pewter. I have found it all but impossible to distinguish between those coins in which the quantity of the alloy is more or less infinitesimal.

I must express my most sincere thanks to all those who have helped me in my labour of love. It is somewhat invidious to mention names, where all have been so kind, but I should be wanting in common gratitude did I not here record the valuable aid and encouragement which I received at the British Museum from Mr. Reginald Stuart Poole and his always courteous collaborators there; from the Hon. C. W. Fremantle, Deputy Master of Her Majesty's Mint; from Mr. R. A. Hoblyn, whose knowledge of our copper and tin coins is too well evidenced to require any encomium on my part; from Mr. William Brice, Mr. A. E. Copp, and also from Mr. C. H. Nash, who kindly placed some blocks of engavings at my disposal.

I trust that my readers will from time to time communicate with me on the subject of any errors which should be corrected or additions which should be recorded, so that, if need be, a second edition of this work may atone for the first. In conclusion, I may say, that I do not claim for these pages more than an attempt to give a Catalogue Raisonné of the series of coins and patterns which they seek to describe, and I have refrained, however alluring the subject, from giving any elaborate history of our coinage in the inferior metals, as neither the time nor the material at present at my command would enable me to extend my labours in that direction.

I have, where necessary and possible, recorded the standard rarity of many of the coins and patterns of the earlier series, treating R. 8 as the highest and R. 1 as the lowest degree of rarity. So many fortuitous circumstances affect this portion of the matter, that too much reliance must not be placed upon my, or any other person's estimate of rarity of any given coin. I have not inserted any realized or realizable values of coins, as in the very nature of things these are always changing, and depend greatly upon state and condition. Although priced catalogues of sales may be usefully referred to for general information upon this subject, so little precise attention has been given to copper, tin and bronze coins in the past, that neither the descriptions nor the values of these, as recorded in the catalogues of many of the leading sales, can be relied upon with any degree of certainty.


January, 1885

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