After I had reported yesterday about "Pennies for the Guy" I stumbled over the information that the famous English copper pennies were minted till 1971 here, well not exactly but quite near in Birmingham.
They were minted in a mint which was founded by Matthew Boulton around 200 years ago.
This Matthew Boulton was quite an interesting character and member of a group called Lunar Society or Lunar Circle which was the initial point of the English enlightenment. The age of enlightenment was not only a French "invention" but started in England as well and this group was so important because in the end it was more or less responsible for the infamous industrial revolution.
Boulton was a silversmith by profession and his father owned a factory which produced small metal objects called toys. When Matthew Boulton assumed the factory he - what usually happens - wanted to change some things. He planned to produce more objects for the wealthy people and together with his partner Fothergill he build the Soho manufactory - a for that time huge factory site near Birmingham to produce exclusive silver and silvered tableware. Of course when you own a huge factory you need either more workers or some machines to help you on and so it was quite handy that another member of the Lunar society had invented the steam engine. It was Scotsman James Watt - most of you will know him anyway.
So Boulton could raise his capacities and as he was interested in experimenting and technical progress he worked together with James Watt and they invented a steam-driven pump as well which made the mills independent from the water level and was used in the Welsh mines as well. Boulton experimented with electricity as well. Electricity was at that time by many people still thought as some kind of manifestation of the human soul.
As Boulton was a very caring person he developed for his works insurance for illness and injuries so that they would not left without any money in such cases. And he opened the first medical dispensary where everybody could get medicine without having to visit an expensive doctor or to go into a hospital. One of his enterprises was the already mentioned mint, where he minted the pennies of course with the held of one of his steam engines.
The players playing in the Grand Slam to be sure wouldn't be content with some pennies; the price money to be sure is on another level.
On Sunday the second long day of darts pended, all players of all groups had to play their second group matches. Rather astonishing the sub did shine but for me it didn't matter anyway as I had to be back at my computer in the basement of the Civic Hall at noon. There you can't even see whether it's day or night outside.
The afternoon started with the losers of groups A- D playing one another and the first of those matches was by far the most thrilling. Former Grand Slam winner Scott Waites fought with tooth and nail against a second defeat in his match against Ronny Huybrechts but it didn't help. When the afternoon was over it was clear he was out. The other matches were slightly boring compared with the opener. Darren Webster couldn't keep up the performance he had shown against Michael van Gerwen and lost to Jan Dekker who had no problems at all. Adrian Lewis played on like he had in the first match, he didn't even fight only looked helpless at his darts - he was eliminated as well. Robert Thornton still could hit neither high scores nor doubles and had no chance at all against a convincing Robbie Green.
Those were the losers - now followed the winners! Alan Norris was as convincing as his BDO colleague before him and Terry Jenkins had a bad day at the oche. Well, Norris is through while Jenkins has to hope for success in his third match.
Michael van Gerwen got a win but not yet can be sure he progressed because of the leg difference. Raymond van Barneveld and Vincent van der Voort raced head to head after it first had looked like a clear win for van der Voort. But in the deciding leg he missed seven Matchdarts - a huge chance for van Barneveld who of course took it. So van Barneveld is through and van der Voort has still to hope. In the last match of the afternoon Dave Chisnall played against Rowby-John Rodriguez. Chisnall was well prepared and didn't give the young Austrian chances. Rodriguez played well again but couldn't do much. So Chisnall was through as well - but of course Alan Norris had kept his fingers crossed all the time.
In the evening groups E - H did play and again the losers started. The first pair were Dean Winstanley and Wesley Harms and as his colleague Jan Dekker Harms won the match despite Winstanley's 180 to begin the match.Richie George played a lot better then in his first match but nevertheless lost. Tony O'Shea beside Taylor the clear crowd's favourite of the evening got a win over. Jamie Caven. On the right side back in the hall there was a group which chanted throughout the match O'Shea's walk-on song - it was deafening and I think I would have gone crazy on stage. As last losers Simon Whitlock and Brendan Dolan came on stage and this time the Australian had the advantage.
A colourful Peter Wright followed against an in simple black dressed Michael Smith in the first winners match. It was a strange match. Sometimes on the highest levels there were legs in between in which no player scored even near 100 points. Plane black in the end won over colourful but Wright nevertheless threw his flights in the crowd. Phil Taylor again looked jovial and comfortable - a bad sign for his opponents. Christian Kist gave it all and that was quite a lot but how can you stop a Taylor with a 114.65 average? Stephen Bunting then showed Gary Anderson how to win matched - an impressive display.
The last match was James Wade against Mervyn King. Despite Kings average was noticeable lower then James Wade's, he nevertheless gave James Wade the shivers and just didn't give in...
To be sure in the next round are Mervyn King, Michael van Gerwen and Stephen Bunting and more or less Phil Taylor as he only needs one more leg.