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The Museum of English Rural Life

University of Reading

6 Redlands Rd




tel: +44 (0)1183788660




email: [email protected]


Twitter: @TheMERL


Instagram: @museumofenglishrurallife



Contact details: Dr Ollie Douglas; Madeleine Ding


Date of visit: TBC


Nature and extent of collection


668 pieces. The object collections contain over 25,000 objects which provide a material record covering 1750 to the present day. We use our diverse collections to explore how the skills and experiences of rural people, past and present, help shape our lives. The archive, library and object collections are a major source of knowledge and inspiration about how people lived and worked in the countryside. They tell the story of how food and farming matter to everyone.



All numbers below are estimated


British tokens: Collection of hop tokens from Sussex and other areas, and marketing trade tokens from various counties

American coins: 1 (part of a composite object 51/1298 – 1 cent coin)

Medals (commemorative or military): 430, including agricultural prize medals and society medals (such as the Berkshire Friendly Society and the Warwickshire Agricultural Society), and 371 uniface electrotype copies of one particular agricultural medal

Paranumismatica: 238, including a number of badges relating to other museums of rural life, agricultural competitions and farming equipment

Other: There are toy bank notes as part of a number of board games held in the collections (2010/20, 2010/31, 2010/34), and 2009/67). The board games include Agrihazard, Grade Up to Elite Cow, Farming and Market Day



Specific strengths: Agricultural medals, hop tokens.


Library: 50,000 volumes. Extensive runs of historically significant journals from the nineteenth century onwards, a large number of rare books and specialist collections. The library is the most important in the country for the study of the history of British agriculture, the countryside and rural society. We also have access to the University of Reading library.
































Database used: Adlib.


Proportion of collection on database: 100%


How much detail in database entries? Database entries generally record: object number, object name, description, general/archive information, place acquired, place used, dimension, material.


Are images incorporated? 684 records have images (although 371 feature in 1 group shot).


Is the database accessible to the public? Yes, online though our website.


Is the database publicly accessible online? Yes:





Are there permanent numismatic displays? No.


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? Yes.


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Yes.


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? No.



Access to the collection


Is there a study facility? Yes.


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? No.



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? Yes.


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? Not currently.


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? Not currently.


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? No.



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? Yes, we respond to enquiries by telephone, email and have occasional visits in person.



Curatorial knowledge


Is there any numismatic expertise in-house? If so, who, and in what areas? No.


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? University of Reading staff, SSN support, external academic peers and partners.


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums? N/A

MERL MERL_015 93_50_img_001

MERL 93/50: Long service medal from

the Bath & West of England Society