The Ross King Collection of British Coins
My collecting career began in 1954 with an 1852 Bank of Upper Canada penny found in the garden of our family farm when I was 10 years old. Typically, as a beginning collector, I purchased the ubiquitous Whitman folders and began filling in dates, but as usual, missing the key ones.
However, once I got to university, and real life set in – a career teaching High School English (a profession I thoroughly enjoyed), marriage, children, mortgages, etc. – I was forced to shelve my collection, only to have my interest and passion reawakened in 1979 when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the gold and silver markets. It seemed that the entire world woke up to the collecting and selling of coins.
At this point, I ceased collecting Canadian coins and, because of my interest in history generally, but British history specifically, British coins became my focus. Ironically, also at this time, along with my teaching career, I decided to start a new part-time business (which I managed for forty years) specializing in the coins of Great Britain. I became a member of the Ontario, the Royal Canadian and the American Numismatic Associations as well as the Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers. But as I started collecting GB coins I found that the number of coins available was daunting. Since I had been always fascinated with the British monarchy, I assembled a monarch portrait type set of all the kings and queens from 1066 to 1970 (hammered pennies first, then groats, and finally shillings) including all the varieties of some monarchs, particularly George III and Victoria.
While putting this collection together I was drawn to George III in particular, with all the major historic events during the period of his long reign. Just think of all that happened during these years – the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the War of 1812 but most importantly, as far as coinage was concerned, the Industrial Revolution which completely changed the way coins were minted (the Cartwheel twopence showed the power of the new steam presses). The unusual types of coins struck under George III (Bank of England ninepence and one shilling and sixpence, countermarked Spanish 8 réales, etc), the proofs, patterns, medals and plethora of 18th and 19th century merchant tokens all drew me in and held me for many years.
But as one grows older things do change and, after 67 years of collecting, the time has come to dispose of my holdings. Even so, I am pleased that my grandchildren are interested in collecting coins, just like their ‘Pa’.
Ross D. King