A Penny for your Thoughts

The other day, Rog, our curator was out walking in Market Lavington, when he noticed another Roger out with his metal detector. As he watched, our Rog saw the detectorist find something in a field on the sands, awaiting cultivation. Out came the trowel and a hand went down to pick up an item, which was looked at, and put away in the finds bag.

Only then did Roger the detectorist see Rog the curator. They are old friends and soon they were chatting. The find was a penny coin. Soon, it belonged to Market Lavington Museum.

King George V penny, found in a field on The Sands, Market Lavington

This is the penny in ‘as found’ condition. We can see it dates from the reign of King George V – 1910 – 1936. The coin has a deep gouge, perhaps made by an agricultural implement at some time during the last 75 years.

Tails side of this 1936 penny

The tails side gives the year as 1936. George V died on January 20th of that year so one imagines not too many of these coins exist although enough for valuation web sites to describe such a coin – even in good condition, as pretty well worthless.

As a museum, we ponder on whether we should keep items like this. Everything we have must have a local connection, and this surely does, being found, buried in the ground, in the parish. Our pre-decimal pennies, like this, went out of use in 1971 so we’d assume it has been in the ground since then. To youngsters, this is an object from antiquity.

We find museum visitors are very keen on rarities, but most of all, older visitors love to see things they remember. Youngsters will be amazed that a coin of this size – diameter 32 millimetres, was worth less than half a penny in decimal coinage. So we think these ordinary items serve a real purpose.

Finally let us just add that Roger the detectorist had absolute permission to work the fields he was in from the farmer. Like other responsible metal detector users, Roger does a grand job in finding and sharing. Keep up the good work.

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