Cruising with the hobby - paper money lectures on board MV Van Gogh’s maiden round the world cruise January 4th – April 6th 2007
MV Van Gogh at left docked in St. John’s harbour Antigua
I have just returned from a trip of a lifetime – a 93 day world cruise on Travelscope’s MV Van Gogh on which I was privileged to be a guest lecturer on world paper money. This was a particularly special opportunity because it was the first time ever that an interest lecturer (as opposed to a port lecturer) had been asked to do a whole world cruise instead of just a segment and also the very first time that banknotes had been a lecturer’s subject on such a long voyage.
I was asked to prepare 16 lectures on all the countries we were visiting and helpfully given over a year’s notice to complete this mammoth task. Fortunately, I had the backing of the I.B.N.S. Nottingham chapter with Simon Biddlestone, our chairman, being a professional photographer and several members helping out by providing notes from their collections for scanning. Contacts with other I.B.N.S. members from all over the world also produced numerous stunning rare notes like the wonderful copy of the New Zealand 1934 £50 note emailed to me by a Singapore member and, armed with these and the notes in my collection, photographic sessions started at Simon’s house on a monthly basis throughout 2006. With approximately 50 slides per lecture, the total slide count came to over 800 and these were supported by 234 x A4 sheets showing many of the notes annotated by research. The final task was to collate all the research, find a theme for the presentations and put all this together into scripts for 16 lectures.
The theme had to be concise and capable of providing a suitable foundation around which to build a lecture programme. It was this:- “Just as we say a person wears his heart on his sleeve, so a country wears its heart on its paper money”. The final piece in the jigsaw was to discover from the research what the heart of each country was as displayed on its banknotes. The lecture programme was as follows:-
Lecture #1. History & Introduction to World Paper Money. This lecture traced the history of paper money from 10th century China through wars and sieges to the establishment of the Bank of England, U.S. colonial money, John law notes and French assignats, Confederate States and United States paper money, First and Second World War issues, Prison Camp money, British colonial banknotes, commemoratives and polymer notes.
Lecture #2. The paper money of the Azores & Portugal.
The heart of Portugal seen in images of her lost monarchy, her lost empire, her golden age of The Discoveries, Roman Catholicism, famous people and famous places. Port of call Ponta Delgada, Azores
Lecture #3. The paper money of Antigua & the East Caribbean States.
The heart of these islands seen in their link with Britain, the colonial power, and numerous vignettes showing beautiful tourist and World Heritage sites. Port of call St. John’s Antigua.
Lecture #4. The paper money of Guadeloupe & France.
The heart of Guadeloupe and France shown in images of her golden age in the 17th century, her lost monarchy, Marianne her great symbol of the Republic and a dazzling display of world famous artists, authors, philosophers and scientists. Port of call Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe
Lecture #5. The paper money of Curacao & the Netherlands Antilles.
The heart of the Netherlands Antilles seen in her proud link with the Netherlands, the mother country, the extraordinary individuality of the six islands and their unique flora and fauna. Port of call Willemstad, Curacao
Lecture #6. The paper money of Panama & Ecuador.
The heart of Ecuador shown in her links with Columbus and the conquistadors, her independence movement led by Bolivar and Sucre and her geographical position on the equator reflected in the cult of the smiling sun. Ports of call San Blas Islands, Panama, Panama Canal zone and Manta, Ecuador.
Lecture #7. The paper money of the U.S.A.
The heart of the U.S. shown in her struggles for independence, her proud self-sufficient pioneering spirit encapsulated in the “American Dream”, her world-renowned democratic institutions and her famous presidents and people. Ports of call none, but U.S. dollar used in Panama and Ecuador.
Lecture #8. The paper money of the French Pacific Territories.
The heart of these hauntingly lovely islands shown in her links with France, the greatness of French colonialism, Polynesian culture and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Ports of call Hive Oa, Marquesas Islands, Papeete, Tahiti and Vaitape, Bora Bora.
Lecture #9. The paper money of Tonga & Fiji.
The heart of Tonga shown in her sole surviving Pacific monarchy, her independence, her unique culture and her cottage industries. The heart of Fiji seen in her links with the British monarchy, her independence and a plethora of local traditions, tribal culture and local industry. Port of call Nuku’alofa.
Lecture #10. The paper money of New Zealand.
Her heart shown in her Maori peoples and traditions, her unique flora and fauna, her links with the British crown (through the monarchy and in particular Captain Cook) and her breathtaking natural beauty. Ports of call, Auckland, Tuaranga and Bay of Islands.
Lecture #11. The paper money of Australia.
Her heart shown in her original links with Britain and her dependence on the land, followed by a reflection of her emerging status, her social and cultural diversity, her Aboriginal first nations and her contribution to the wider world. Ports of call Sydney, Devonport, Tasmania and Fremantle.
Lecture #12. The paper money of Mauritius & Reunion.
The heart of Mauritius shown in her pre-independence link with colonial powers, her extraordinary diverse culture and those famous people who have fostered her struggle for independence from Britain. Ports of call Port Louis and Saint Denis.
Lecture #13. The paper money of South Africa.
Her heart shown in her proud links with her first coloniser, van Riebeeck, her internal struggles between the Boers and the British, her hard-fought battle for independence and majority rule and her magnificent unique ecosystems. Ports of call Durban and Cape Town.
Lecture #14. The paper money of St. Helena, Cape Verde & the Euro.
The heart of St. Helena seen in her unswerving devotion to the British monarchy and constitution reflected in the portraits of the Queen shown on the front of all her notes and the motto shown on all the backs. The heart of Cape Verde seen in her long link with Portugal and the local culture, peoples, flora and fauna reflected in her post-independence issues. The lack of any heart shown on the paper money of the European Union because the notes were expressly designed so as to show no links with any of the constituent countries. Ports of call Jamestown, St. Helena, Georgetown, Ascension Island, Praia, Cape Verde and Funchal, Madeira.
Lecture #15. The paper money of England Part I 1640-1960.
The history of English paper money traced from goldsmiths’ receipts through early forms of cheque to the founding of the Bank of England, white notes and the introduction of colour to banknote designs.
Lecture #16. The paper money of England Part II 1960-2007.
The introduction of the Queen’s portrait to Series “C” notes with multicoloured notes showing famous people on the backs of Series “D” and “E”. Port of embarkation and disembarkation Falmouth.
One of the highlights of the cruise was the meeting on board with the I.B.N.S., Sydney chapter. The cruise director invited 12 members of the chapter to a cocktail party in the Captain’s Lounge so that they could all view the massive display of 234 sheets set up on two walls outside the lecture theatre. Afterwards they took me out to a delicious meal at George’s Restaurant on Darling Harbour and presented me with books on Australian and New Zealand paper money together with a signed memento of my visit. Even the menu was specially printed and dedicated to me!
Members of the I.B.N.S. Sydney Chapter on board
MV Van Gogh to view the paper money display
Another highlight was identifying the £5 notes used in the Great Train Robbery from a slide used by a fellow cruise lecturer on fingerprints. The photo was of a caravan of one of the robbers who had hung up scores of £5 notes to dry and was caught red-handed by the C.I.D. The picture showed Series “B” £5 notes as well as Series “C” ones because the robbery took place in August 1963 at a time when the £5 helmeted Britannia was being replaced with the £5 Portrait Series “C” notes. I tried without success to obtain some of the serial numbers because any £5 note which could be proved as part of the Great Train Robbery loot would carry a substantial premium. For all we know, there could still be some out there!
My final task was to set a quiz of 40 questions with a first prize of a St. Helena £5 note and a second prize of a £1 note. I obtained these along with numerous mint obsolete £10 and £20 notes from the Finance Office in Jamestown.
As a result of this lecture programme, the hobby now has six new collectors and a passenger has promised to attend a meeting of the I.B.N.S. East Midlands chapter. I sold numerous starter packs of world notes, copies of the Token Banknote Yearbook and Colin Narbeth’s excellent little book, “Collecting Paper Money” now sadly out of print.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. The cruise director liked it so much that I have been offered two more completely free round the world cruises for my wife and me on the basis I give similar lecture programmes on both of them .
Last updated 20/06/2007