Coins reflect on local history

A wave of nostalgia for the old English copper penny used in Cayman years ago has given birth to a passion for coin collecting for Spencer Bodden.

Over the years, his collection has grown from being just a hobby to a full-blown enterprise with more than 20,000 coins in his collection.

“I want to preserve the history of the Cayman Islands by saving and preserving these old coins and passing the hobby and collection down to my grandchildren when I am not around,” said Mr. Bodden, who fell in love with the history and culture signified in various designs from the time he was a young man.

This connection with history and culture, which sparked the insatiable desire to learn as much as possible about these old coins, has also prompted Mr. Bodden to educate younger Caymanians about the coins used in Cayman a long time ago.

“Most Cayman children have not seen these coins, and my plan is to go to the schools to educate students on coin collecting, which can be fun and educative as well as an appreciation for art and history,” he said.

In his collection and for sale Mr. Bodden has coins that are over 100 years old, pirates’ coins, Cayman antiques, Bible coins, Jamaica, English, US and Chinese coins, which can be purchased at his store at the Pirates Caves in Bodden Town.

“A favourite collector’s item for Caymanians is the rare Cayman 40-dollar and the shilling,” said Mr. Bodden, who recalls historian Roy Bodden always liking the shilling with the lion and Osbourne Bodden purchasing coins as presentable mementos. “Everyone that buys acquires a certificate with their purchase,” he said.

Some of the coins sold from $3 and up are mounted and some are sold as is. “It is a gift that you will treasure and have for a very long time,” he said.

Mr. Bodden’s coin collecting seems to have been handed down from his father, the late Haig Bodden, who was also was an avid coin collector. “A penny and a shilling could buy a lot of things in those days,” said Mr. Bodden, who remembers his father telling him tales of local shops using these coins.

“Old coins help to record the history and culture because of their beauty, their value, and their history. When you hold an old coin in your hand, it allows you to take a step back in history to the time of the coinage, said Mr. Bodden. His collection includes a mounted 1924 US gold coin handed down by his father, rare tuppence and four pence pieces and lots of information on various coins.

Mr. Bodden travels to antique stores in England and the US to acquire coins, which he says he has a good eye on valuing. “Locally, some of Cayman older residents had a lot of old coins in their possession but unfortunately they were lost during Hurricane Ivan,” said Mr. Bodden.

For more information on Mr. Bodden’s enterprise, call 916-8178.

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