British Tokens from the Collection formed by the late Jeffrey Gardiner

British Tokens from the Collection formed by the late Jeffrey Gardiner

Jeffrey Gardiner (1940 - 2015)

Jeffrey Gardiner was born on 19 September 1940 and he and his twin brother Clive were educated at Fencehouses school, near Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham. At the ago of 15 Jeff left to become an apprentice electrician in a nearby coal mine but mining was not his scene and, apprenticeship completed, he joined the Royal Signals as an electrician, a trade he was to follow all his life, both in the north-east and in France and Germany.

Stationed for a time at Catterick Garrison and on a visit to Darlington, Jeff met Morag, a Scottish lass who became the love of his life. They married in what became Jeff’s church, Northgate United Reformed, on 2 March 1964, and after leaving the army in 1966 Jeff settled in Darlington, working for Darlington Chemical and Insulating Co (Darchem) and subsequently for Rothman’s International at their manufacturing plant in the town.

Jeff’s interest in numismatics began when he was a teenager. A collector throughout his working life, it was not until after retirement that the hobby became his passion. A gifted and enthusiastic speaker, Jeff lectured to local numismatic societies and was a keen participant in the annual Token Congress, to the extent that he attracted 59 delegates to Darlington’s Blackwell Grange Moat Hotel in 1984 for the third such gathering. In 2010 he joined forces with Mike Roberts to hold that year’s congress at Collingwood College in the city of Durham.

With an encyclopaedic knowledge and a vast numismatic library covering everything from ancient Greece to modern banknotes, it was no surprise that Jeff was in demand. He became a valuer at Tennants in Leyburn, overseeing their specialist sales of coins and medals and maintaining a close watch on their auctions of antiquarian books, which yielded several titles for the Gardiner library over the years.

Of all his numismatic interests, it was local tokens and medals where his knowledge was profound. He made a particular study of Edward Herdman, the Bishop Auckland curio dealer and lay preacher brutally murdered on New Year’s Eve 1934. Herdman was a pioneer student of English communion tokens who put together a collection numbering about 17,000 pieces. His murder, and the subsequent conviction of John Bainbridge, a Durham Light infantryman home on leave who professed his innocence to the last but was convicted and hanged at Durham Jail on 9 May 1935, was the subject of a talk that Jeff gave on many occasions. Jeff’s own contributions to local numismatics included Checks, Tokens, Tickets and Passes of County Durham and Northumberland, privately published in 1996 and aimed at helping readers understand the range of paranumismatica in the two counties known to him at that time.

Jeff died on 29 October 2015 after a short illness, at the age of 75. Sadly, Morag pre-deceased him; Jeff leaves Karl and Graham, three grandsons and two granddaughters. Like the famous numismatists from the past in the north-east who he admired – Longstaffe, Brockett, Herdman, John and Robert Bell among others – the name of Gardiner will live on via his numismatic collections; his specialist Elizabeth I series, auctioned by DNW on 16 March 2011, and those pieces and books sold by DNW during the course of the next few auctions.