The Brian Ascroft Collection of Treasury Notes
I was born at University College Hospital, in London's Gower Street, in 1946, and but for five years in Southend-on-Sea have lived in London all my life. From the age of 6 I started collecting things like stamps and matchbox tops. In those days the only holidays I had were camping trips with the Cubs and Scouts, all over the country. The pennants, or triangular cloth flags, from these trips were also collected and I'm proud to say I still have them. I also collected foreign coins, which my Father used to give me each evening after sorting his change out at the end of a day's work as a London Musher (a cab driver who owned his own black taxi). One day he gave me an old tobacco tin full of coins that he had put on one side-halfcrowns, two bobs (florins), shillings and sixpences, etc, and that is what got me started collecting English coins.
After leaving school I started work as an apprentice cabinet maker. There were only two of us -my boss and I-but I got lots of experience. We would be making furniture for people in Golders Green and the surrounding areas, as well as staircases and window frames for the local builders. At the age of 20 I started my own carpentry and building company. Six years later I priced and won a large job and all of a sudden I had about 30 tradesmen working for me, all older than I was! Subsequently I won the contract to convert the big old ABC Cinemas all over the country into three-and four-screen operations -the most famous being the Empire, Leicester Square-and this kept me commercially occupied for 15 years.
During this time I used to go into Spink's in King Street and buy at least two sovereigns a week. I also used to go to some of the other dealers of the day, including Stanley Gibbons, to buy coins, and started to attend auctions-including the famous sale at Christie's in 1977 when the first £1 million note was offered. On one visit to Stanley Gibbons in the late 1970s I was looking at a Gothic Crown when I noticed for sale a pair of £5 notes with consecutive serial numbers, but with different cashiers' signatures. I bought them-and have been hooked on collecting British notes ever since!
Because of the great rarity and infrequent occurrence of any Treasury notes I now need, I've decided to part with this element of my collection and concentrate on other aspects of my British Isles collections, with English notes the priority. Collecting is in my blood and I just can't help myself! Like so many other collectors I know, my wife isn't interested in collecting, nor my two daughters or, as yet, my four grand-daughters!
I hope that the new owners of my notes will derive as much pleasure from them as I have had.