'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Penny Didn't Drop

Did anyone in the The Stair do hobbies back in the 1960s?

Initially I couldn't recall anyone doing so then remembered Douglas Blades (6/6 Oxgangs Avenue) collected railway ephemera.

For a while I did a little bit of stamp collecting - partly intrigued by the Stamps on Approval adverts in The Hornet and The Victor - partly because my Aunt Heather collected stamps and they looked fascinating - and also, because it helped me achieve the only Cubs' badge that I ever got, my Collectors' Badge.

I of course was taken in by the stamps advert not realising what the term (small print) On Approval meant and instead believing the stamps were free, along with a magnifying glass, etc.

Anyway despite reminder letters I never sent the pack or the money back to the company.

Other hobbies were short lived - collecting a few football team pennants; or the little cloth or vinyl badges of towns that one had visited (not many) - the Dublin badge came from my grandparents but I did visit Pitlochry with them; these could be sown onto your anorak; then there were football programmes but again this hobby was relatively short lived.

However, the one hobby if it could be called such is that every time I came across a Victorian coin I kept hold of it.

It was mainly pennies - I had a few half pennies and possibly a single Victorian shilling. However, over a couple of years I amassed an immense collection of Victorian pennies - given that there were 240 to the pound I must have accumulated over one hundred coins.

They mainly featured the old Victoria but I also had a fair number of the young Victoria too.

Clearly the Bank of England wanted to get its money worth because some of the old copper coins were so very worn that you couldn't make out much of the design never mind the date - indeed some of them must have been in common circulation for over 150 years - never mind walls but if pennies could have talked what stories they could have told - whose hands had these coins passed through over the centuries and decades - Dickens; Stevenson; Churchill; The Beatles...?

Although often I might be hard up or in need of money I remained steadfast and kept my collection intact for several years.

And then for no particular reason on one lazy summer afternoon during the school holidays I decided my collecting days had come to an end.

I ventured up to Ewart's newsagents at Oxgangs Broadway.

In some trepidation I ordered lots and lots of sweets and comics keeping the coins hidden from view.

When the counter was littered with a feast of delights (the assistant must have begun to wonder) I then produced the coup de grace and proceeded to pay with Victorian pennies and half-pennies -around 100 coins!

The poor shop assistant didn't know what had hit her!

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