Tokens from the Late David Griffiths Collection

Tokens from the Late David Griffiths Collection

David Brandon Griffiths (1940 - 2011)

David Griffiths was born in Conway, North Wales, on 8 November 1940, moving to London when he was five. Like many expatriates, he became very keen to retain his links with his mother country, and in addition to representing it at athletics in sprint events, he realised how interesting it was to link local history with collecting.

Initially he collected Welsh 17th century tokens, triggered by the 1973 publication of George Boon's book on the subject. But, finding out how much individual 17th century tokens cost and, encouraged by Monica Bussell (1906-74) at Seaby's, David decided to start collecting Welsh 18th century tokens, principally Anglesey. He put together what is believed to be the largest collection of these pieces ever assembled.

David soon expanded his 17th century token interests to cover Hertfordshire, of which county his collection is the largest of its kind ever formed, and other counties, in particular Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland and Shropshire. His collection of 18th century tokens covers all counties, with a particularly large group of Middlesex tokens, and his smaller 19th century collection includes tickets, checks and medals.

Having dispersed his library of token literature in these rooms a year ago, David's token collection, the subject of 38 years of dedicated collecting, will feature in a group of auctions staged by DNW over the coming years, beginning here with his 18th century tokens of the counties from Bedfordshire to Middlesex, 359 pieces in total. Among them are excellent representations of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, his local areas, along with a good run of issues associated with Robert Orchard, the Sawbridgeworth brewer, and David Alves Rebello, the Jewish merchant domiciled in Hackney. There are a number of silver proofs and particularly good groups of the extensive issues made for the quack chemist Basil Burchell from London's Long Acre and the bookseller James Lackington, based at Finsbury Square. Provenance was important to David and there are pieces here from virtually all the significant dispersals of tokens held since the Davis sale in 1901.

A regular at the annual British Token Congress for many years, David single-handedly ran the 1998 event at Hemel Hempstead and was a co-organiser of the Congress when it visited Warwick in 2008.

David was principal of a firm of chartered accountants and continued to add selectively to the core elements of his token collection in his retirement. Apart from coins David had many other interests, principally politics, and was a long-term Liberal Democrat, contesting two parliamentary and two European seats. He retired as treasurer of the European Liberals comparatively recently; formerly he was treasurer of the Liberal Democrats and Liberal International. He was also for many years treasurer of the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged.

Away from business, he followed the fortunes of his beloved Queens Park Rangers football club in west London and was a regular at Loftus Road, looking forward to his team's newly-won promotion to the Premier League.

Sadly, David succumbed to a lengthy illness on 3 September 2011. He leaves a son, Gareth, daughter Justine and three grandchildren, Daniel, Joshua and Rex. A regular attender at almost all the significant British token auctions since 1982, he was a familiar figure who plotted new acquisitions, whether in the saleroom or from a dealer's list, with an assiduous purpose, set himself limits and was not often bested for something he really wanted. I will miss him and our frequent lunches, a chance for me to escape the city for the Chiltern hills and a hostelry with no cellphone signal and for him to likewise escape from the demands of his beloved BlackBerry and catch up with all the latest token gossip.