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Victorian Time Capsule

A Victorian Time Capsule Hot off the Presses

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

Author: Jeremy Bostwick / Thursday, February 13, 2020 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

Though newspapers have seemingly become antiquated with digital media being much quicker and more economical in reaching its audience, there was certainly a time when printed news was everywhere. Whether on a stand at the local grocery store, in a vending box on the street corner, or piling up on your doorstep, newspapers were ubiquitous. So omnipresent were they that in Victorian England, newspapers were routinely used as a packaging into which one of the nation's savory staples—fish and chips—would be deposited. As the fried pairing of fish and chipped potato became a popular take-away meal, creating to-go packaging would have been an economic burden to countless vendors. With so many newspapers available, it's easy to see how they could be "repurposed" as an exterior packaging, to transport one's fish and chips from street vendor to wherever it was going to be consumed. Though no longer used as such (on account of hygiene issues surrounding the paper and ink), we still think of the dwindling newspaper as synonymous with conveying this meal.

Transporting ourselves back to Victorian England, our current Collectors Choice Online sale presents an interesting group of coins that have their own connection to newspapers. In this case, 26 coins, emanating mostly from Great Britain and France, with a couple German Marks thrown in, were discovered carefully wrapped in a section of newspaper dated to July 3, 1887—a Sunday. This clipping was taken from Galignani's Messenger, a Paris-based publication in English. Given the near equal split of British (13) and French (11) coins, it is difficult to say where this "time capsule" was created. However, it is fascinating that a rather important and highly celebrated event occurred just two weeks prior to the clipping used in this "hoard"—the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This celebration for her 50th year of reign was widely fêted throughout the commonwealth, and nine of the 13 British coins found in the clipping feature the queen's newly introduced "jubilee" bust, a modification on her previously used "young" head coinage. All of these coins, ranging in date from 1873-1887, exhibit mostly steel gray surfaces embellished in many instances with appealing iridescence. Graded by NGC, their grades range, except for just two examples, from MS-64 to MS-66+, a testament to the care taken in their procurement and preservation. Was this collection set aside by an admirer of her royal majesty following such a momentous achievement? One can only wonder. What can be assured is that you'll most likely find these delightful specimens just as desirable as any other wrapped in newspaper.

To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit StacksBowers.com where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.

We are always seeking coins, medals, and pieces of paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions (until May 4th) for our upcoming CCO (Collectors Choice Online) auction in June 2020. Following that, our next larger format sales will be our Official Auction of the ANA World's Fair of Money and our Official Auction of the Hong Kong Show, both in August 2020! If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.