John Linhoss submitted this article about the 1952 British West Africa Six Pence. Thanks.
British West Africa was the name given to the British colonies in western Africa. The United Kingdom during the colonial period colonized various territories and whole regions. This lasted from the late 1780's until the 1960's.
The colonies were under a Governor-In-Chief vested in the high office of the Governor of Sierra Leone located in Freetown. The other colonies were Gambia, the British Gold Coast (now Ghana), and parts of Nigeria.
After its dissolve in the late 1950's, a single currency (the British West Africa Pound) was used throughout the region until 1962. Until then coins and currency were contracted for circulation for many years for the entire occupation. In 1952 it was decided that the entire production of the six pence (6d) for that year was to be melted. The project some 2,544,000 coins was accepted and carried out by the Riverside Metal Company in New Jersey.
This is where my story begins. In 2004, James (Jim) Henderson, Jr., a friend, introduced me to Mr. Robert (Bob) Ulrich. In 2006, Mr. Ulrich asked me to sell some coins out of his enormous collection. Within one of his four safes, I found 157 British West Africa 6d coins. I thought nothing of it at the time. They were all in very old coin tubes and had a musty smell and mold spots on them. This wasn't surprising, after all they had been kept in this particular safe for over fifty years.
With further examination I found them listed in the latest (2006) edition of Krause. Under the coin pictured in the book was a caption stating that only 167 made their way in the numismatic market. I then went back to Mr. Ulrich's home. We talked in length about them. He told me that Jim had researched them and had sent one to Krause publications. With this and the story the coins were now defined to their existence. Sadly, Jim Henderson passed away shortly after the story was documented. His recollections and input were left in his notes, which I have.
Mr. Ulrich told me that he had purchased 165 of the 167 coins that escaped the furnace. He told me that the coin dealer who had the pieces traded "Indian Head" pennies one for one to the man who brought them to him. I understand now why this trade happened. The man who worked for Riverside Metal Co. most likely did not want to be questioned of his possession with them. In any case, Mr. Ulrich bought 165 of them for $1.00 each. The dealer who had them kept one for himself and one was sent to The British Museum. That leaves eight to account for. I knew Jim had one and I am pretty sure that the other seven were sold to dealers or friends Jim knew.
In 2006, I sold most of them to Florida Numismatic Galleries in Fort Lauderdale. A few were sold to a friend and some to a couple of dealers. I bought eleven for my collection. In Krause's 2006 world coin book the uncirculated pieces were valued at $250. Stack's Bowers had one for sale in their 2011 auction. Lot 1364 listed the value between $400 and $500.
Recently on the internet an example of a brilliant uncirculated specimen is priced at $1,280.
There's still one more part to the story. Mr. Ulrich passed away in 2011, and he will be sorely missed. His daughter, Clara Reitz was kind to give me the three original mahogany boxes Mr. Ulrich had. The coins were shipped in them. I would think they are the only such boxes in existence. All coins and the boxes pictured here are in my collection.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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