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Pierre_Henri

Birds on Coins

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Pierre_Henri

The depicting of a bird, especially the dove, on coins is not new. As far back as 330 BC, a silver Drachm was struck in southern Greece at Sicyon depicting a dove within an olive wreath.

 

However, the dove as a messenger of peace is mostly associated with the Church. A 17th century German communion lead token that I have seen, shows a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak on the reverse. The marginal inscription says: ET LA PAIX VOUS SERA DONNÈE (and peace will be with you).

 

In England during the late 1700s and early 1800s, quite a few tokens were manufactures showing a dove with an olive branch in its beak. These tokens were issued for both religious institutions and private companies.

 

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Tokens showing birds were also struck in silver. The first two tokens date from around 1811 and show a swan and a rooster, whilst the third, showing a dove with an olive branch in its beak, also dates from this period.

 

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What is interesting to me, is that the maker of all three these silver tokens (kept at the Fitzgerald Museum at Cambridge) is the same man who also struck the following pieces about 4 years later. One can see clear similarities between Thomas Halliday’s earlier works (even if they are in some instances different bird species) and his later designs like the Griqua tokens.

 

 

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South Africa have a long numismatic history regarding birds that are featured on coins.

 

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The new R5 however, is interesting in the sense that it features a bird on BOTH sides and lest we forget, a dove featuring an olive branch in its beak was previously struck by the SA Mint. It was the silver crown-sized R2 that was issued in 1993 to commemorate world peace.

 

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Rentzman, in his Encyclopedia of Heraldry in 1879 associated the bird on this gold ingot with that from GRIQUATOWN. Described at auctions as "a rectangular gold ingot countermarked with the arms of Griquatown (Rentzmann, Wappen-Lexicon, pl. 34, 216), 25 x 20mm, 49.98g. Has later fineness stamp of 999.9 and letters TJ and 31."

 

Photo1%20data_w280h280.jpg

 

I think that Rentzman got this wrong, as the dove of peace is associated with the church mostly. But the fact that he aligned this with the Griquas shows that the Griqua Town issues were not as obscure as some would like to think.

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Pierre_Henri
Rentzman, in his Encyclopedia of Heraldry in 1879 associated the bird on this gold ingot with that from GRIQUATOWN. Described at auctions as "a rectangular gold ingot countermarked with the arms of Griquatown (Rentzmann, Wappen-Lexicon, pl. 34, 216), 25 x 20mm, 49.98g. Has later fineness stamp of 999.9 and letters TJ and 31."

 

Photo1%20data_w280h280.jpg

 

I think that Rentzman got this wrong, as the dove of peace is associated with the church mostly. But the fact that he aligned this with the Griquas shows that the Griqua Town issues were not as obscure as some would like to think.

 

It is interesting to note that Wilhelm Rentzmann published his book in 1876, the very same year that H. J. Hofstede in his History of the Orange Free State wrote that “zilveren en koperen stukken gelds” (silver and copper coins) were struck for the Griquas.

 

But Rentzmann, as a well-known numismatist of the day, probably made the connection between the dove and Griquatown (on coins) because of William Boyne’s book (1866) The silver tokens of Great Britain & Ireland, the dependencies, & colonies where he refers to the Griqua coins and says. “I cannot learn on what occasion these were struck, but it seems likely, from conversation I have had with residents of our South African colonies, that they were issued by the London Missionary Society for the Griquas …

 

It is also interesting to note that an earlier book (1865) by Rentzmann (Numismatisches Legenden-Lexicon) was offered on auction in 1898 as part of the collection of Col. Walter Cutting, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In the same auction, this item was offered…

 

griquatown_zpsyqzdojtv.jpg

 

Regarding the Gold Ingot, I also do not believe that it actually has anything to do with Griquatown. Rentzmann probably saw the plate (drawing) of the Griqua token in William Boyne’s book and put two and two wrongly together.

 

The gold ingot sold for £17,000 by DNW in 2011 but failed to sell the next year when it was again put on the block.

 

Two years later it appeared again on auction as part of the Hohmann Collection in Stephan Welz’s Gramadoela auction that was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday 14 May 2014. It was estimated at R280 000 - R350 000 but I do not if it sold and if it did, for what price.

 

For those interested, here are scans from Rentzmann's orginal publication

 

 

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griquatown2_zpsmuyglct6.jpg

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