British Tokens from the Collection of the late David Perry
David Perry, OBE (1932 - 2015)
David Perry, born in Cheam, Surrey, on 17 June 1932, was educated at Blakesley House, Worcester Park and subsequently Sutton County Grammar school where, while in his teens and in the same year as the broadcaster and botanist David Bellamy, he decided to forge a career in forestry.
Between 1951 and 1954 David studied forestry at the University of Edinburgh, from which he graduated with first class honours in 1955. His national service was spent with the Royal Engineers and in 1957 he joined the Forestry Commission as an assistant forest officer for Berkshire. He advanced to district forest officer based in Guildford in 1959, then to the Gwydyr Forester Training School in Caernarvonshire before being appointed district forestry officer in charge of Kielder Forest in Northumberland in 1966. Subsequent appointments followed in Thetford (1969), Forest of Ae, Dumfriesshire (1972) and York, before he became Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest in 1985.
In 1986 David became chairman of the newly-established New Forest Review Group, whose recommendations, approved by the then Secretary of State, John Selwyn Gummer, resulted in the creation of the New Forest Heritage Area to safeguard the surrounding lands, much of which were privately owned, from development. His management skills, tact, diplomacy and attention to detail, which were hallmarks of his whole life, helped to give the New Forest a status similar to Britain’s other national parks. He retired in 1992 and was awarded the O.B.E. for services to forestry.
David had an enduring love for the Scottish Borders, particularly his former home in Lochmaben, and during his working life had travelled north most years in what his friends and family called his ‘Progress’ en route to the Edinburgh Festival. He retained the friendship of David Bellamy throughout his life and was close to the playwright Alan Bennett and the late talk show host Russell Harty. He had hoped to retire to the north but ill-health meant that he remained at his home in Brockenhurst until 2012 and his final years were spent in a retirement home in nearby Barton-on-Sea, where he died on 5 January 2015.
With a wide taste for the arts, David was himself a skilled artist, specialising in architectural penand-ink drawings. He was an avid collector of antique sporting firearms and had a renowned library relating to forestry. A Worcester teapot, purchased for six guineas in September 1966, begat a collection of ceramics, while the 25p purchase of a rare farthing from Sanquhar (DH Dumfries 1) in March 1977, started David on a quest for tokens and, subsequently, commemorative medals, which concluded with the purchase of a handful of Scottish communion tokens in 2011. All his purchases were meticulously recorded in a ledger; during his lifetime some tokens and medals were sold to fellow-collectors at the annual Token Congress. Despite entreaties from his local numismatic societies in Bournemouth and Southampton to join, David preferred to enjoy his coins from the comfort of his armchair in Brockenhurst, sent to him for approval from Hiram Brown in Edinburgh to Vernon Henstridge in Pokesdown, Bournemouth, and all points in between.