The Halbert Carmichael Collection of British Coins
Halbert Carmichael was born in 1937 and grew up in various towns in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Graduating high school in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, science was a natural calling. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 1959 and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963. He taught chemistry at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, from 1964 until his retirement in 2001.
Halbert began collecting coins in 1948, focusing on world issues. Interested in what were then current events, he focused on coins from the period 1945 to 1969. His introduction to English hammered coinage was a penny of Edward I that he gave to his late wife, Anne, as a Christmas present in 1963. Since they were both interested in British history the collection grew in several directions. Anne was interested in portraits, so a complete collection of shillings from Henry VIII to date was assembled. Halbert was interested in geography and history, so he began a collection of coins from different mints all over Britain and from the various times that coinage was produced. He also gave talks to numismatic groups titled ‘English History Didn’t Begin in 1066’, illustrated by his collection of Saxon pennies. The couple travelled to Britain on three occasions and visited many of the sites where historic events occurred and where their coins had been produced.
The collection includes eleven different silver denominations struck under Elizabeth I, ranging from a halfpenny to a crown. This is indicative of a schizophrenic system changing from a binary coinage (its unit, the penny, its quarter, half, double, and quadruple). All the eleven denominations are a power of two times one of three different units (penny, shilling and pound) that are not themselves related by powers of two.
Halbert’s other interests in numismatics include a topical collection of birds on coins, for which he has created a website, www.birdsoncoins.com. He is also interest in the distribution of coins in circulation. This includes both contemporary circulating coinage in the USA and historical eras in Britain.