Major Perkins was born in Dudley in 1872. Somewhat unusually for a numismatist of this date, Perkins was a man of relatively modest means – his father, John, worked as a stoker and later foreman in the local waterworks, and the younger Perkins worked as a cashier for a wholesale wool merchant for most of his adult life – and consequently biographical details are slim. A few certainties, however, can be established. Throughout his twenties and early thirties Perkins lived at the family home on Tinchbourne Street, Rose Hill, and it was at the adjacent Central Methodist Church on Wolverhampton Street that he married his wife, Kathleen Agnes Vaughan (1887-1970) in the autumn of 1909. By the time of the 1911 census the couple had moved out to Birch Villa, 27 Shaw Road, although their cohabitation was cut short by Perkins’ death on 23 December 1916 aged just 45.

Perkins’ primary contribution to Worcestershire numismatics consists of his 1905 work on Dudley tradesmen’s tokens of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, issued on a short run of 120 copies by Edwin Blocksidge, a local printer and stationer based on 19-20 Stone Street, Dudley. Like Cotton’s The coins, tokens, and medals of Worcestershire, Perkins’ book was produced on a subscription basis; the list presented in the front of the volume includes a number of prominent archaeologists, numismatists, and local institutions, providing an ephemeral glimpse of the networks that he engaged with as a scholar of the county’s token series. One name missing from the list, however, is the Worcester alderman Harold E. Palfrey, whose contribution as a subscriber is marked in a handwritten annotation of Perkins’ book now held as part of the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service’s Palfrey Collection. Loose among the leaves in this volume are a number of items of personal correspondence between Palfrey and Perkins dated to the spring of 1906. Palfrey seems to have been incredulous at the book’s 7s. 6d. cover price, although in his defence Perkins noted that the book was the fruit of two and a half years’ work, and that its price tag was fixed long before publication!

Farthing of William Briggs of Dudley (Cotton 21a), lithograph from Perkins 1905

As the book’s title indicates, Perkins’ study of Worcestershire tokens was focused on Dudley’s issues alone, and his coverage of seventeenth century tokens in particular is much smaller than its coverage of later token series. However, the book contains several elegant lithographs and photographic reproductions of tokens assembled by Perkins, which are helpfully situated alongside historical evidence from local sources. A notice in the back of the book reads:

To Coin Collectors and others

SEVENTEENTH, EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURY TRADESMEN’S TOKENS AND COMMEMORATIVE MEDALS OF WORCESTERSHIRE. The Author will be pleased to hear of any varieties of Worcestershire Tokens, or to receive any information as to the issuers of the Tokens and Bank Notes connected with the County.

Address:- M. PERKINS,


Sadly this work remained unfulfilled at Perkins’ death, and no correspondence or drafts relating to it are known to have survived.

Bibliography of Major Perkins (1872-1916)

Perkins, M. 1905. Dudley tradesmen’s tokens of the seventeenth, eighteenth & nineteenth centuries. Dudley: E. Blocksidge.