According to one of our curators, Paul Brown...
This coin has always been one of my favourites. I suppose that's because it is the oldest man-made thing I ever personally owned. The story of how I came by it is quite interesting.
When I was seven my father took a sabatical and he stayed in lodgings in Oxford. At the end of his stay his landlady gave me this coin. She said that it had been found on the Polish battlefield. She thought it was a Roman coin. One side had a head in profile with curly hair and the reverse was badly damaged although there looked to be the image of a large bird there. My father and I took it to the British Museum to be identified. A man there took the coin and went off to look it up. While we waited I debated several possibilities in my mind.
It could be an important find. It could be worth a lot of money. Suppose they asked if the museum could keep it. Would I have to agree? Would there be a little card saying that I had donated it? On the other hand, perhaps it would be quite recent and nearly worthless. Then no one would mind if I kept it.
When the man came back he had the coin in a very small brown envelope upon which he had written Egypt, Ptolemy III, 248-223 BC. It was a coin from the reign of a king of Egypt 240 years before the birth of Christ. The coin was apparently quite common and the museum had no interest in it. So it was to remain mine! And I've held it in my hand and felt its weight in my pocket many times since then. I suppose that's what triggered my interest in museums. But years later when I was asked to become a member of this museum's staff there no longer seemed a good reason to keep the things I owned separate. So the museum has this coin and all the other things I used to own.