The late Edward Barnby Collection of Chinese Banknotes
Edward Barnby (1944 - 2009)
T D Barnby was, along with the late Godfrey Burr, one of the earliest collectors of banknotes in England. His interest started in his teens in the early 1960s, a time when there was very little of any consequence on the open market and no specialist dealers in the UK. Nevertheless, the hobby of banknote collecting picked up through the 1970s and Ted's collection grew in consequence to the point where, at his death, it had become one of the most significant in private hands.
Born on 26 June 1944 in Marlborough, Wiltshire, Edward George Barnby was educated at the town's former Secondary Modern school, where he excelled at cross-country running, and joined British Rail at the age of 17 in 1961, initially as a clerk at Witney station. Within a short space of time he moved to Oxford, working in BR's Goods Department at Becket Street and then, in 1965, transferring to the Diesel Department.
In 1983 he took BR's Total Operating Processing system course and moved to Reading, where his job was to ensure that locomotives and rolling stock were in the right place at the right time. In those days his most trusted work companion was a teleprinter; later the process became computerised. A stressful job at the best of times, it required a very logical mind but the cramped conditions of the office led, in time, to a nerve injury in his shoulder. BR failed to respond to his requests for the layout of the office to be changed, so Ted sued them, securing a financial settlement and early retirement in September 1999.
Working for British Rail enabled Ted to travel widely all over the UK, attending fairs and auctions in search of notes for his collection. He collected paper money from no less than 180 different countries, with his British and Colonial series being the largest, at 568 different items. He enjoyed meeting fellow enthusiasts and the camaraderie that went with being a collector of banknotes in those early days. Ted was also keen on researching the history of notes in his collection and was extremely knowledgeable, though it is a matter of some regret that he did not leave a detailed record of his acquisitions.
As banknotes became more popular and increasingly expensive, Ted branched out into other forms of collecting-passports, stamps, playing cards and even licences. He also had a keen interest in mushrooms and would engage in another of his passions, walking long distances, to find rare species. A keen gatherer of sporting statistics, he was the proud owner of a first edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
Ted never married and, in retirement, was able to further indulge his passion for travel and collecting. Remembered for his good sense of humour despite the pain from his shoulder injury, his hobbies provided him with many hours of enjoyment, right up to his death on 13 May 2009 at the age of 64.