The Collection of Staffordshire Tokens formed by the late Edward Watkin
Edward Arthur Watkin (1921 - 2014)
Edward Arthur Watkin, usually known as Ted, was born in Stoke-on-Trent on 3 August 1921 into a family who largely worked in pottery manufacturing. Ted himself spent his entire career in the ceramics industry. Passionate about Staffordshire, its history and its nature, he was very proud that, barring his time serving with the Royal Signals in the Orkney Isles and the King’s African Rifles in Burma during the Second World War, he had lived in the north of the county all his life; firstly in Newcastle-under-Lyme, then near Eccleshall and finally in the village of Betley, where he spent his last 40 years.
Ted was an avid collector from childhood. As with many of his generation, he started with stamps, then developed through coins and tokens, fossils, minerals, insects, and sea-shells to postcards. He became an authority on local postcards and was the co-author of several books depicting cards from towns and villages in north Staffordshire. Away from collecting, Ted loved nature and the outdoors and was keen on ornithology and hill-walking; on his 70th birthday he walked up Snowdon.
Ted’s collecting of English coins and Staffordshire tokens started in the mid 1930s and he was still acquiring new pieces right up to the time of his death. In 1961 he produced the work “Staffordshire Tokens and their place in the Coinage of England”, published as his presidential address in the North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies, volume 1. A list of additions and corrections to the 17th century portion of Ted’s study was published by him in volume 13 of the NSJFS (1973). To this day it is considered to be the definitive work on the subject and incorporated two plates of tokens from Ted’s collection. His numismatic passion was his local tokens, although it is a matter of some regret that hardly any of his neat tickets incorporate provenances of any kind. However, his manuscript notes (lot 285 in this catalogue) are more forthcoming on some early provenances, including the William Goostry cabinet, believed dispersed in 1887, and at least one token was originally collected by the Stone antiquarian Stebbing Shaw (†1799). Some unprovenanced 17th century tokens almost certainly derive from the large holding of over 220 pieces put together by William James Faulkner (1862-1939), of Endon, sold in May 1940, or the 60-odd pieces collected by R.J. Carthew (1863-1943) and offered for sale in March 1946, but we cannot now know which. There are some surprising absences, such as the well-known octagonal issue of Gnosall, but these are countered by the inclusion of many rare pieces not originally listed in Williamson’s Boyne.
By the late 1960s Ted’s collection of English coins was sizeable and his near neighbour, the sculptor Arnold Machin (1911-99), visited him regularly to study his cabinets, spending hours examining how previous mints had coped with numismatic design. It is entirely possible that Ted’s coins influenced Machin’s work when it came to finalising designs for the decimal coinage, for which Machin had been approached in 1964. Ted joined the Crewe & District Coin & Medal Society in 1976 and was appointed chairman in 1980. In that year he persuaded Machin, then living at Garmelow Manor, Eccleshall, to come out of retirement and address the society, an occasion remembered by founder member Brian Edge as a memorable evening for the 57 people who attended. Subsequently, Ted was a delegate at the very first Token Congress, held in Crewe in 1982.
Ted’s death occurred on 23 December 2014, at the venerable age of 93. He leaves his widow, Enid, and two sons, Christopher and James.