The collection is particularly strong in Roman coins found in Britain, many of them from Brentford at the site of ancient pilings. To the Victorians, this was evidence of Julius Caesar’s crossing into Middlesex and was commemorated on the 1909 Brentford Monument. Today’s archaeologists have more cautious views.
These Roman coins include gold, silver and bronze from the first century AD onwards and bear the faces of the emperors Claudius, Nero, Severus, Hadrian, Antonius Pius, Marcus Aurelius and Maximus the Great – the last of the Roman emperors to mint coins in Britain.
Saxon coinage in the collection begins with those minted around 700 AD and ends with one minted by the last of the Merican Kings, Burgred. Other coins include those of the Norman kings and examples from the reigns of Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard III and Henry VII.
There are many coins from the reign of Henry VIII in the collection, some of which bear the initials of Cardinal Wolsey. In addition, coinage of James I and Charles I include lozenge-shaped siege money, struck when the king was besieged in Newark Castle. Layton collected a few Commonwealth pieces as well – these bear no portraits or faces.
The remainder of the coins follow the reigns of Charles II on to Layton’s own time. He collected British Maundy money and tradesmen’s tokens, some of which bear the names of Brentford and Chiswick tradesmen, as well as coins from the USA and India.