Like all the rest of Jersey Heritage's collections team we live in fear of "stocktaking week", the innocuously named time each year when we have to find a randomly selected percentage of our collections to prove that we are keeping on top of our collections management and not simply losing things. As you may have already guessed all did not go smoothly in our little lab and it resulted in four of us looking through over seven thousand individual bags for the missing coin. I would say in our defence that the random selection was wildly unlucky in that it somehow turned out to be a coin that had had not one but two human errors during the recording phases and so stubbornly turned out not to be in the box when wanted.
The day was saved as so often by my two assistants, Georgia and Viki who somehow worked through a mind map of possible errors that I simply couldn't follow and eventually proved another mislabelled coin to be the elusive 7341. This has been a scary but salutary lesson to us. Until recently we treated the coins in a random sequence. (Five hundred coins might be removed from the hoard in a day and put into a box. A certain number of these boxed coins are taken out for acid treatment but their numbers were random from within the five hundred). In other words we were content to let the final sequence build up slowly and reveal any problems, if there were any, only later on. The trouble with this of course is that one might therefore be trying to figure out where a mistake was made a year ago, which is not ideal.
A little while ago we therefore switched over to working sequentially so that the whole coin treatment from removal to bagging will only take a matter of days or weeks, not months which should let us keep a better eye on our processes. Since the 7341 incident Viki and Georgia have been going through the entire removed coin collection, checking for similar errors and they found nine apparent mistakes. Brilliantly, Viki has already accounted for six of them and is on the trail of the last three so all credit to her for that.
I'm sorry this week has not been a glamorous tale of shining gold and new discoveries but it does illustrate what a lot of our work is actually about so bear with us till we get our pick axes out for treasure again soon. Hi HOOOOO!!