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BANS Annual Congress 2011

Was held at The Ramada Plaza Hotel,
Marine Lake, Promenade, Southport

25th to 27th March, 2011

Host Society : Ormskirk and West Lancashire Numismatic Society

The 2011 Congress of the British Association of Numismatic Societies was held at the sumptuous Ramada Plaza in Southport from 25-27 March, with 66 attendees. After registration and refreshments, proceedings began on Friday evening with the first lecture, Argentius binio: the rise and fall of the antoninianus, given by Chris Leather. He set out the case for the rehabilitation of this ‘poor relation' of the denarius, citing metallurgical ratios as evidence to doubt the widely- held view of a catastrophic financial crisis in the mid 3rd century. The lecture was followed by dinner in the hotel's brasserie, followed in turn by the usual convivial evening conversations over drinks in the bar and lounge.

After a formal welcome by the President of BANS, Dr Kevin Clancy, Saturday's first speaker was Peter Thompson, on the topic of his recent book: The East India Company and its coins. The paper reminded delegates of the amazing voyages undertaken to open up trade to and from the East, and the difficulties faced in establishing permanent bases. The second lecture was David Holt's The life and times of Thomas Bushell, which outlined the colourful and financially outrageous lifestyle of this Stuart ‘jack the lad', who produced several of the coinages of the Civil War. After the usual break for coffee and biscuits, the morning's papers continued with an entertaining and instructive talk on The diverse uses of tokens by Bob Lyall, which set the pieces firmly in their historical and social context, and included a wealth of contemporary illustrations. The final lecture of the morning, the UK Numismatic Trust Lecture, was delivered by Prof. David Shotter, on the subject of The Roman conquest of Britain: the numismatic evidence. Drawing on a wealth of experience over many years of research, the speaker gave a magisterial overview of the history of the invasion and settlement of Britain, pulling together the different strands of literary, archaeological and coin evidence. After lunch in the brasserie, delegates were free to explore Southport. However, before doing so, many chose to attend the ad- hoc illustrated talk by Dr Joe Bispham (prepared to entertain them in case the weather was awful - it wasn't), in which he outlined the work he had done in reinstating a medieval timber-framed Essex manor house to its former glory. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend. The Congress Dinner was held in the evening, with the usual formalities and raucous raffle.

Sunday's lecture programme began with Graham Dyer, on the subject of one of his predecessors at the Royal Mint, William John Hocking (1864-1953) curator and numismatist. Hocking, an intensely private and religious man, of great integrity and assiduousness, had not previously received the attention he deserved, and the speaker produced compelling evidence to support his inclusion amongst the great names of Mint personnel. The second paper, Interpreting Iron Age coin distribution was given by Ian Leins from the British Museum. He explained how our understanding of the coins, their issuers, and the areas in which they were used, had increased dramatically with the hugely-expanded (and ever-increasing) database of finds now available to researchers, rewriting much of the orthodoxy. After the coffee break, the penultimate lecture was by Bob Thomas on The Brussels hoard of voided cross pennies, a cache of almost mythical status, as much for the circumstances of its purchase as its size. The speaker is one of the joint authors of a soon-to-be-published catalogue of this enormous hoard of some 145,000 English, Scottish, Irish and continental pennies, hidden c. 1265, and the audience was treated to images of a number of the more spectacular pieces. The final paper of the Congress was the Royal Numismatic Society's Howard Linecar Memorial Lecture, given by Keith Sugden from Manchester Museum, on the topic of Myths and monsters on ancient coins. The speaker moved light-heartedly through a range of mythical monsters and the exploits of the heroes who slew them, copiously illustrated with some splendid specimens of Greek and Roman coins, and bringing back childhood memories to delegates of a certain age. Before a final lunch in the hotel's brasserie and the journey home, the BANS President brought the formal proceedings to a close with a well- deserved vote of thanks to the host society, the Ormskirk and West Lancashire Numismatic Society, and its two principal organisers, Alan Dawson and Chris Leather, for a stimulating and pleasurable weekend, enjoyed in unusually luxurious surroundings.