The Paul Cattermole Collection of Sixpences
I was born on 1 March 1952 in Middlesbrough, then in Yorkshire. My father would have loved me to play cricket for Yorkshire but unfortunately his ambitions were thwarted by my total lack of cricketing ability!
I was educated at Harrow Weald County Grammar School and the University of Manchester, studying mathematics. Following university I started work as an actuarial trainee, eventually qualifying as an actuary and staying with the same insurance company in Dorking until my retirement in 2008.
My interest in coins started in the early 1960s when I started to collect halfpence found in change. In those days it wasn't unusual to find Victorian bronze pennies and halfpence in your change, some over 100 years old but in very low grade. Soon after I went to secondary school I came across two other boys with a similar interest in coin collecting. Every day we would go through the school dinner money as it was handed in, in search of new dates for our collections; we collected all denominations and our focus was on finding missing dates rather than on grade. By contrast with the bronze coins, there were very few pre-1920 silver coins still in circulation and virtually none pre-1911. We had a local coin shop in Kenton run by Ian J. Fine, but most of the coins he had in stock were too expensive for our pocket money.
The three of us were fortunate enough to go on a tour of the Royal Mint when it was based in Tower Hill. I can remember seeing blanks for pennies being pickled in the acid that gave them their mint lustre and then seeing the striking process. Being inspired by our tour, I wrote to the Mint to say that as a collector of coins, I wondered whether, tongue in cheek, they might have any spare coins that they didn't want? I received a very courteous reply saying that they were unfortunately unable to help but suggesting a few London coin dealers that I might like to contact.
Education and my early career prevented any further collecting until around 1985, when a chance visit to the Dorking Stamp and Coin shop rekindled my interest. They had Victorian silver coins in stock that I had never seen before and which were in very high grade. It became clear that it was impractical to collect all denominations so I settled on halfpence and sixpences, which were less fashionable than some of the other denominations and therefore more affordable.
Initially my focus was on collecting the milled series but after a while I started buying hammered coins as well. The advantage of hammered halfpence was the vast range of types and designs going back as far as the 10th century, although the small size of the coins gave the die cutters little scope for bringing much artistry to their designs.
By contrast they had much more freedom with the larger sixpences, including some of the early experiments with milled coinage, some of which are truly beautiful. I can still remember the thrill of opening the envelope containing my first Elizabeth I milled sixpence. Similar beauty can be found in the huge variety of sixpences from the reign of Charles I.
As my collections have grown, it has become increasingly costly to add new items; so with reluctance I have decided to sell the sixpences. I sincerely hope that the successful buyers in this and the subsequent auction planned by DNW will gain as much pleasure from collecting these coins as I have had.