The Bob Blake Collection of Irish Banknotes
Born in Winchester in July 1943, Bob lived in that fascinating city until relocating to Jersey in 1965, where he continues to live. As a young man he studied botany and horticulture, spending his first five years in Jersey growing orchids. Engineering, however, was a passion and took over his life in the 1970s; indeed, from 1975 to 1985 he spent most of his time overseas, installing tyre retreading equipment and training users in a number of countries all over the world. In 1985 he started his own engineering business which he continues to manage. Bob has always been interested in sport, both as a participant and an organiser. In the 1960s and 1970s motor racing was his great passion and he competed on the circuits and hillclimbs in a wide variety of machinery, from a Ford Lotus Cortina saloon through a succession of single-seaters, even a fearsome Formula 5000 Crossle built in Northern Ireland. All this, however, had to be put on one side when overseas work took up most of his time. When he started his own business in 1985, he found that he had some spare time and consequently took up shooting. While Bob shot with rifle, pistol and shotgun, his main interest evolved in the pistol disciplines and he went on to represent Jersey all over the world; he also represented Great Britain on a number of occasions. He continues to participate and organise events.
Collecting is in Bob's blood. As a child he collected cigarette cards, coins and comics. His interest in paper money began in the early 1970s, when work took him overseas and he would come home with a variety of different notes he had picked up on his travels. He then started to look for rare or unusual pieces and widen his knowledge by researching their history. His serious interest started with South East Asia and he still has a superb collection of Philippine notes, primarily collected in those early days when travelling extensively in the Philippines. In the mid-1970s he shifted his interest to British notes, firstly specialising in Bank of England white notes and later British provincials and, of course, Channel Islands.
It was in 1986 that he started to seriously specialise in Ireland, both north and south. Intrigued that there was no serious body of research material to draw upon, he began to put a definitive manuscript together, running parallel with a note collection that included all aspects of the different issues, including prefixes and dates. That project is close to completion and, with the assistance and collaboration of fellow researcher Jonathan Callaway, should see publication early in 2009.
Bob also has a general World collection and one of the largest collections of Travel money, encompassing the whole spectrum from travellers' cheques to letters of credit, circular notes, bills of exchange, etc. Bob also has an extensive collection of banknote printing plates and other banknote-related items. He has several thousand books which, added to his research material, make for quite a house full.
Like any serious collector, Bob's interests also extend to other fields, in particular antique tools, model ships, original cartoon art, corkscrews and antique firearms.