Silver Heads, Royal Tales.
Item Reference: BKS343
McCammon, A. L. T. Silver Heads, Royal Tales. Images of Monarchy and the Silver Penny. Baldwins, 2008. Octavo, pp. 464 pages, numerous illustrations. Card covers. This book sets out to tell the story of the most important coin in the history of the United Kingdom: the silver penny. The narrative is set in the framework of monarchy, with particular reference to those Kings and Queens, whose heads have appeared on these precious little relics, and their predecessors, for the last twenty-one centuries. After a light-hearted essay on modern monarchy has set the scene, readers are invited to try their hand at identifying over one hundred and fifty Kings and Queens of the British Isles. There are clues in the illustrations and in the obverse legends (inscriptions) of the coins selected. What were these monarchs really like? How were they regarded by their subjects? Readers are challenged to find the answers to these questions from a wide variety of contemporary references, in contemporary lettering and - enigmatically - in contemporary languages. Translations are provided in the Notes, where serendipity also plays an important part. Unconventionally, this saga begins in the present and moves - like an archaeologist on a 'dig' - back into the past. While amateur historians will be able to find their way easily through the first few entries, those well-versed in the science of numismatics will have the edge in the later (i.e., historically earlier) sections. But the answers are always at hand. Roman Emperors featured are those who visited or had a particular interest in the British Isles. Names in the 'Register' range from 'Anthony I' to King Tut; from Boudicca to Zog. Sources stretch from Aristotle through the Mabinogion to Richard Wagner, from the Annals of Clonmacnoise through Rolf Harris to the shadowy Zosimus. The main corpus of the book is followed by a concise 'Treasury' of the silver penny, which traces its fascinating story, from the ancient days of barter, through its hey-day in medieval times, right down to its transformation from 'd' to 'p'. Although all historical and numismatic sources are painstakingly cross-referenced, this is neither a commonplace history book nor a coin catalogue. It is, rather, an invitation to the reader to play an active role in researching these miniature silver icons of Kings and Queens, around which, for so many centuries, the economic life of every Briton revolved. Printed as a limited edition of 250 copies with all copies signed by the author.