Historical Medals and Tokens (3 October 2018)
According to the late James O’Donald Mays, writing in 1991, Cokayne’s interest in numismatics developed while he was at Oxford. Certainly by the mid-1890s he had started to collect tokens, and by the turn of the century was a regular customer of the dealers Lincoln, Spink and Baldwin. He was a shrewd but avid buyer, either through the dealers or in his own name, at the principal auctions between 1900 and 1940, and tickets in his distinctive hand are widely known among present-day connoisseurs of the various series of tokens, tickets and passes that he collected. Because he was active for so long, and had the financial wherewithal to back up his knowledge, Cokayne acquired tokens from many of the best-known cabinets of the day – Lloyd, Davis, Norman, Dudman, Bliss, Dalton, Clements, Harris, McKenzie, Hamer, Fletcher, to name but a few. Regular visits to the coin shops of Edgar Lincoln in Holles Street, Holborn, and to Albert Baldwin in Duncannon Street, and later the Adelphi, where he became a particular friend of Albert’s second son, Fred Baldwin (1889-1970), would invariably result in new acquisitions, although acquisitions from Spink tended to be pieces that Cokayne had spotted in the company’s Numismatic Circular, whether upon the Circular’s publication, or occasionally when the compiler of the company’s token lists had sent Cokayne an advanced ‘pre-publication’ copy.
Apart from numismatics, Cokayne regularly undertook trips to Scotland for shooting and fishing, and to the continent of Europe for sightseeing. A keen naturalist, he also collected butterflies and wild flowers and maintained a notable wine cellar.
Cokayne suffered two burglaries during his lifetime, a result of him keeping his collection at home. Each time the collection was rebuilt, and what remained at the end of his life was the best and most comprehensive collection of British 18th and 19th century tokens ever formed by a single person. Pieces of museum quality abound among this, the last major group of his 19th century copper tokens to be sold; his contemporary silver tokens, catalogued by Fred Baldwin, were sold by Glendining’s in 1946. Most of the following tokens were hand-picked for their unusually fine condition – the 19th century series was struck for a genuine need, rather than as collector’s pieces, so the vast majority only exist in Fine or, at best, VF. One of the prizes here, Lot 916, is by far the most important early 19th century Welsh token in existence, with only four owners from new, but there are many others to delight the connoisseur in the following pages.