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What comes next? You've been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?

Owner:  coinsandmedals
Last Modified:  3/18/2024
  
Set Description


For those unfamiliar, the title is part of the lyrics from the Broadway hit "Hamilton". The lines are sung by King George III in a song to the American people after they won their independence from England. Although I have never been a big fan of musicals, I love how Lin Manuel Miranda combined artistic talent with history in such an approachable modern way. I am not alone in this thinking; in fact, the play has inspired countless people and continues to reach international acclaim. During an anniversary trip to Europe, my wife and I had the privilege of seeing this play in London. I walked out of the theatre thoroughly impressed and with the lyrics, which by this point were already memorized before the show, playing on repeat in my head. The following day was my birthday, and my wife had promised a day full of antiquing and coin shopping. We started with a few antique stores and eventually ended up at Baldwin's, where I purchased an 1807 proof restrike halfpenny for my growing George III copper collection. It suddenly hit me. I could detail my numismatic adventure while also telling the history of English copper under the reign of George III. To make it even better, the lyrics from Hamilton could play a role!

Engraving provided by my friend C. C. of Crystal River Florida
The first part, "What comes next?" could help set the stage for how under George III's reign, the English people were finally provided with something that had been absent in commerce for centuries: a sufficient supply of high-quality regal copper coinage. As readers will soon discover, small change was scarce, and lightweight counterfeits and tokens made up the bulk of currency exchanging hands among the poor working class. The question of "What comes next" was asked by many over several centuries in an attempt to find a solution to the small change crisis throughout much of Europe. The second part, "You've been freed", could subsequently be interpreted as the English people's newfound freedom from rampant counterfeiting, which plagued the copper coinage produced by the Royal Mint for centuries.

The third part of the title, "Do you know how hard it is to lead?" could speak to the lasting impact of the Soho Mint and how Matthew Boulton's work revolutionized the minting process. In part, this set aims to walk readers through the history of the Soho Mint and how the ingenuity of Matthew Boulton ultimately addressed the question of "What comes next?" not only for English coins but also for coins that would circulate the world. With the application of steam-powered engines to minting, a new unprecedented quality and quantity of production were made possible. In my humble opinion, the Soho Mint products are some of the most exciting pieces that portray a story of rapid advancements in the art and science of minting. This era of profound development played a critical role in curbing mass counterfeiting and established a legacy that can still be felt some two centuries later in our modern coinage.

Studying the seemingly endless array of products of the Soho Mint is no easy task, and as readers who choose to embark on this journey with me will soon learn, a lot is left to be discovered. The main description aims to provide a historical backdrop to the era in which the pieces in this collection were produced. The detailed pictures and brief descriptions that accompany each piece in this set provide readers with a source of pertinent information unique to that specimen. This will likely be a pursuit of mine for years to come, and I have no illusion that it will ever be perfect, but I hope that those of you who choose to follow along enjoy the journey.


Introduction:

The Soho Mint's backstory and its owner, Matthew Boulton, tells a fascinating story of national pride, ambition, and perseverance. I hope that this write-up can afford you a glimpse into the history of the Soho Mint, the struggles it overcame, and the undeniable legacy it amounted to. To keep this write-up from becoming too long, I have opted to forgo any biographical details of Matthew Boulton and instead focus on the relevant information about the mint. For those you interested in learning more about Matthew Boulton or James Watt, I point your attention to the "recommended readings" section at the end. Here you will find a handpicked selection of relevant literature.

Soho's calling:

Like most parts of English history, the struggle surrounding small denomination currency is long and somewhat complicated. According to Brooke (1932), the lack of small change in England can be traced back to the 14th century but remained unresolved until the 18th century. Throughout the earlier portion of this five-hundred-year span, tiny silver pieces were used as pennies and halfpennies, but when silver prices started to rise, the already dwindled supply became nearly non-existent. This marks an exciting era for English numismatics. James I and Charles I sanctioned the production of copper tokens, but as noted by Peck (1964), these were not regal copper issues. There was no mandate requiring their acceptance within the general public, and they were only valid among those willing to accept them. According to Brooke (1932), the relentless demand for lower denomination currency allowed the token coinage to prosper. He notes that token coinage made the majority of lower denomination currency in England, which seems to peak in the late 1640s until Charles II issued regal copper coinage in 1672. To clarify, not all of these tokens freely circulating were sanctioned by the crown. In fact, a large portion of them were illegal, but the practice was not suppressed, and as such, the problem ran rampant.

In response to the growing issue of lightweight and illegal token coinage, Charles II issued the first run of regal copper coinage. The mint was woefully unprepared to produce enough copper coinage to suffice the demand, exasperating another issue that would plague English copper for several more centuries- counterfeiting. As noted in a 1672 issue of the London Gazette, Charles II reinterested that the practice of counterfeiting was illegal. This did little to curb the issue as the offense was only classified as a misdemeanor with minimal punishment. Counterfeiters could make a handsome profit by melting down regal copper issues and using the material to produce lightweight fakes. The counterfeiting issue became even more extensive when Charles II, like many of his successors, decided to strike coinage in tin. According to Brooke (1932), the material was readily available and offered a much larger profit margin than their copper contemporaries. Eventually, tin was abandoned altogether under William III; however, counterfeiting of the copper coinage persisted. The contractors' poor craftsmanship further compounded this as many "genuine regal issues" were underweight and struck on cast blanks. To make matters worse, there was a complete lack of proper distribution, which resulted in a glut of copper in cities like London but did little to address the country's needs as a whole.

Similar issues persisted throughout the reigns of Anne and George I and had reached a head during the reign of George II. By the end of the 1730s, counterfeiting had become such a widespread issue that he little choice but to restructure the anti-counterfeiting laws haphazardly issued by his predecessors. According to Peck (1964), a new law was enacted in 1742 to escalate the punishments for counterfeiting offenders and changed how these charges were pursued. The new law allowed convicted offenders to receive a lighter sentence if they provided information that led to further arrests. If the information and testimony led to at least two others' convictions, the charges were dropped. The new law also allowed investigators to offer a £10 reward to non-offenders who offered information that led to additional arrests. All good intentions aside, the new law fell short due to a profound legal loophole. Peck (1964) notes the law did not explicitly make it illegal to produce copper pieces with noticeable differences from their regal counterparts. For instance, they were producing "coins" with a misspelled legend, incorrect date, incorrect ruler, or maybe even a famous person in place of a monarch. The prosecution of these individuals was rendered nearly impossible, and the trade of making these "coins" took off. As noted by Peck (1964) and Brooke (1932), these operations had advanced to multifaceted businesses. They also used more sophisticated techniques, such as a hand-operated press. These criminals were savvy and created an entire underground counterfeiting operation with multiple parties involved. The capital of which was in Birmingham, and this was no secret. In fact, a mint official visited the town in 1744 to investigate, which led to several convictions (Peck, 1964). The town's reputation was so bad that it became known as "Brummagem" (Selgin, 2011).

COUNTERFEIT 1775 1/2 PENNY
The beginning of George III's reign repeated many of the same errors of his processors. The large unwashed masses urged for more copper coinage, the request was ignored, and counterfeiting ran rampant. Eventually, George III did authorize the production of regal farthings in 1762 and 1763, all of which were dated 1754 and had the bust of George II. The production was insufficient for the demand, partially because the Royal Mint was still using hand-operated presses to produce coinage (Peck, 1964; Doty, 1998; Selgin, 2011). This was a time-consuming, expensive, and at times dangerous task. This physically demanding process required no less than three workers to operate at any level of efficiency. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that production was so limited. The mint also made less profit on the copper than gold and silver coinage, which undoubtedly factored into their disdain for producing the lower denomination currency.

Despite the lack of desire on behalf of the Royal Mint to produce the copper coinage, the demand continued to grow until it came to a boiling point. The industrial revolution was in full stride during the decades between 1750 and 1775. The industrial revolution led to the large scale adoption of a wage-based compensation structure for workers (Peck, 1964; Selgin, 2011). These workers did not earn enough to be paid in silver, much less gold. They needed lower denomination copper coinage. This demand was primarily met with heavily degraded regal copper and countless lightweight counterfeits. The counterfeiting issue that had already plagued England for centuries had now evolved into a fully operational business that generated a handsome profit for the criminals (Brooke, 1932; Peck, 1964; Selgin, 2011). The issue was so extensive that some estimated that nearly 98% of the copper coins circulating in England at the time were counterfeits (Doty, 1998; Selgin, 2011). According to Peck (1964), a 1798 Royal Mint report estimated that only 8% of the circulating copper coinage resembled the regal copper produced at the Royal Mint. A new law was enacted on June 24th, 1771, making counterfeiting of regal copper a felony, but it had little effect. So, for now, employers and workers would have no choice but to freely circulate inferior "coinage" worth substantially less than its intended denomination.

The centuries of inaction by the monarch, extensive counterfeiting, and the pressures of the industrial revolution all collaborated to create an environment ripe with opportunity for change that Boulton took upon himself to pursue. This backstory may seem tedious, but it is essential first to establish the historical context with which the Soho Mint came into existence. Without it, one cannot fully appreciate the significance of the Soho Mint.

Soho's formative years:

Matthew Boulton and his business partner James Watt were not immune to the lightweight counterfeits freely circulating. The two had several operations that required the employment of many workers, all of which were paid wages that demanded smaller denomination coinage. To this extent, they were forced by no other option to circulate these lightweight counterfeits, making it clear why Boulton might be motivated to build the Soho Mint. What may be less obvious is how Boulton's national pride, ambition, and moral conscience may have played into the decision to create the Soho Mint. According to his account, he was not motivated to produce copper coinage for his profit. Instead, he wanted to prevent his workers, and the poor working class more broadly, from being cheated by the lightweight counterfeits that they were paid (Kalra, 2013). His efforts could benefit his workers, but perhaps if he were successful, his ambition would also benefit the poor working-class nationally.

BOULTON AND WATT STEAM ENGINE WORKSHOPS IN SOHO
Birmingham, the Soho Foundry's location, was the center of the largest counterfeiting ring in England (Selgin, 2011; Peck, 1964). Boulton served on the committee tasked with hedging against crime in Birmingham, so he had a front-row seat of the plight these criminals both perpetrated and suffered (Doty, 1998; Gale & Hist, 1966). The entire town was seemingly laden with criminals whose primary offense was counterfeiting. Still, to some extent, their actions were necessary to ensure the working class could be paid and thus survive. This double-edged sword likely presented several moral conflicts for Boulton. Of course, there is no need to take my word for it. Thanks to the work of Tungate (2010), we have a transcript of a letter he wrote to Sir Joseph Banks in 1789. In this letter, he states, "I took up the subject because I thought it would be a publick good, and because Mr. Pitt had express'd a wish to me of seeing something done to put an end to the counterfeiting of copper coin". All things considered, Boulton's decision to pursue the production of English regal copper coinage at significant personal risk was rather patriotic.

So far, Boulton has been presented in a rather complementary manner. In part, this is because I consider him one of my numismatic heroes, but I would be misguided if I did not mention a few other motives for his involvement with the reform of English copper coinage. The largest of which was his heavy involvement in the copper mining business. At the time, the Cornwall mines were the foremost producers of domestic copper, and their operations required the use of Watt's engines to pump water from the deep mines (Gale & Hist, 1966; Tungate, 2010). Watt's invention was a more economical option to the old Newcomb engines, as they substantially reduced fuel consumption. Oddly enough, they did not sell these engines for a direct price initially. Instead, they set up patents that yielded 1/3 of the fuel cost savings from their engine use compared to a Newcomb engine (Gale & Hist, 1966; Doty, 1998; Tungate, 2010). Watt's steam engines yielded a good deal of profit for Boulton, and he had a vested interest in securing the success of the companies that employed them, most notably, the Cornwall mines. Eventually, the Anglesey mines would prove a formidable competitor, and their ability to cheaply mine copper flooded the market and drove prices to the ground. As noted by Tungate (2010), the extra supply and unequal demand reduced Boulton's revenue from his steam engine business, and he became increasingly involved with the copper trade. In fact, it appears that Boulton purchased a large amount of copper from the Cornwall mines (Smiles, 1865). With such a massive investment in the copper trade, it makes sense that Boulton would pursue a coinage reform that would bolster business for the very mines that generated a sizable portion of his revenue (Margolis, 1988). At the same time, his involvement with the coinage reform would strengthen his reputation as a gentleman of the enlightenment (Tungate, 2010). Beyond the social advantages of his involvement with an English coinage reform and the protection of his revenue in the copper trade, producing a copper coinage for England would also benefit his many other business ventures (Cule, 1935). Any increase in his reputation and power from his involvement with coinage would likely result in residual effects for his other businesses and only serve to generate more income. All of these facts combined might suggest that perhaps Boulton's actions were less charitable than initially presented.

Regardless of his intentions, there was a real need to curb the rampant counterfeiting issue that plagued the English people, and Boulton was more than willing to rise to the occasion. The same year that Boulton had the idea to apply the power of steam to minting remains unclear, but we do know that by 1787 the idea became more than a dangerously fleeting fantasy (Doty, 1998; Clay & Tungate, 2009). An English coinage reform seemed all but inevitable, and Boulton was already gaining experience in the minting business. He received a contract to produce coinage for Sumatra. This venture allowed Boulton to fully understand the minting business's complex nature and the multifaceted operation that it necessitated (Doty, 1998). This experience was marked by slow production and the reliance on too many people outside Boulton's direct purview. In short, the Sumatran coinage tempered Boulton's zeal and made him painfully aware that he lacked the requisite skills and resources to manage the production of an entirely new coinage for England. The Sumatran coins were uninspired and far from a marked improvement on the abilities of the Royal Mint. Furthermore, they were not struck using steam and were just as susceptible to counterfeiting. There would be no point in trying to secure a contract with a product that made no notable improvement on the very issue that triggered the coinage reform. Steam power could help address the production rate, but he would need a better way to combat counterfeiting.
DROZ EDGE LETTERING


At this point, Boulton was already making concrete plans to apply steam power to his minting operations, but he still lacked the artistic talent that he sought. Through his meticulous records, we can see that at least one very talented engraver had captured his attention, Jean Pierre Droz. They first met in December of 1798 when Boulton, Watt, and Thomas Jefferson visited Droz in Paris to see a demonstration of his latest invention (Pollard, 1968; Doty, 1998). He had built a contraption that allowed for the application of either raised or incuse edge inscriptions while coins were being struck. This new method had several distinct advantages over the standard practice of the time. First, it reduced the overall production by combining the edge inscription and striking process into one step. Second, the edge inscriptions were often more pronounced and made the coins more difficult to counterfeit. Third, the device produced a coin with a standard diameter, which also dissuaded counterfeiting. And finally, it allowed for a degree of production consistency that was unmatched at the time. In short, the new method developed by Droz was what Boulton was hoping to do at the Soho Mint. If he could combine Droz's work with steam power, he would be able to mass-produce a coinage of unprecedented quality. To say the least, Boulton was impressed, and he soon offered Droz a prominent position at the Soho Mint (Doty, 1998; Selgin, 2011). The bond between the two men was undoubtedly strengthened by their mutual desire for a coinage reform in their respective countries. Droz was adamant about a French coinage reform, and Boulton was in the process of soliciting one for England. Of course, as Boulton would eventually find out, first impressions are not always quite what they are thought to be. While Droz entertained Boulton's offer, Watt and Boulton eventually returned to England, where Boulton's true work awaited him.

An English coinage reform ordered by the Ministry of William Pit seemed imminent, and Boulton was doing everything he could to aid his efforts to secure a contract with the government. However, Boulton was not without competition. According to Doty (1998), Thomas Williams also had his heart set on securing a coinage contract for England. The two men were not strangers. Thomas Williams was the proprietor of the Anglesey mines that were the most prominent domestic competitor to the Cromwell mines that Boulton was intimately connected to (Tungate, 2010; Margolis, 1988). Boulton was also well aware that Williams was already producing copper tokens far superior to anything he could make. This might lead one to argue that Boulton was at a disadvantage, but he had two secret weapons that Williams lacked, steam power and the new method developed by Droz. The issue was that Williams was also seeking Droz's employment, a fact that Boulton was well aware of and led to a large degree of insecurity between Droz and Boulton (Pollard, 1968; Doty, 1998). For better or worse, Droz kept to his arrangement with Boulton.
1788 DROZ PATTERN ½ PENNY


Droz remains in Paris but has seemingly agreed to help Boulton secure his coining contract provided Boulton fairly compensates him for doing so, a detail that Boulton attended to generously. The first correspondence between the two occurs in early April when Boulton sent Droz sketches of George III and steel to produce dies to strike shilling size silver pieces that would aid his lobbying efforts (Pollard, 1968). Boulton was no stranger to lobbying, and his efforts to establish an assay office in Birmingham in the 1770s afforded him much experience and several invaluable connections (Robinson, 1964; 1963). Droz would reply on April 14th, 1787, requesting a life-size plaster mold of the King and inform Boulton of a new method he was developing to add edge inscriptions (Pollard, 1968; Doty, 1998). This typical back and forth communication continues, and with each letter, Boulton expresses increasing anxiety about obtaining the patterns from Droz. Eventually, Boulton would try another tactic. If he couldn't get Droz to deliver the pattern pieces, perhaps he could persuade Droz to produce his press sketches, allowing further development to occur at Soho. The terms for the sketches were settled, and Boulton impatiently waited. A clear pattern emerged, Boulton would request something from Droz, and in return, Droz would demand more money (Doty, 1998). All of this eventually came to a head, and Boulton insisted upon Droz's presence at Soho, which resulted in him visiting in September of 1787. Although the trip ended in October, it seemed to reassure Boulton, and he soon placed an order for two large coining presses and a single small cutting press (Doty, 1998).

While Boulton worked diligently through November in Birmingham to build a structure to house his new mint, Droz continued his usual antics and avoided producing anything useful. Despite Boulton's numerous requests and supplied material Droz failed to deliver the pattern pieces or the sketches for his presses. This nearly spelled disaster for Boulton, as the Lords summoned him on the Committee of Coin on December 10th, 1787 (Doty, 1998). As fate would have it, Boulton was ill, and the Lords agreed to postpone the meeting until the first week of January. Eventually, Boulton met with the Privy Council. Despite the odds being stacked against him (e.g., no patterns to show, his presses were not constructed, and his only argument was based on what he "could" do), he managed to defeat Thomas Williams and seemingly convince the Lords to that he was the man for the job. This was great news, but Boulton had made several grand promises to the council. According to Doty (1998), he promised eight cutting presses and six autonomous coin presses would be built and connected to steam power by June 1st, 1788. However, the issue was that Boulton was still waiting for, among other things, the sketches for the new presses from Droz. Despite the flurry of activity at Soho in the early months of 1788, Boulton needed the sketches to progress forward. Droz was so despondent to Boulton's request that the latter had no choice but to send his son (Matthew Robinson Boulton) and a trusted colleague, Andrew Collins, to oversee Droz's work (Doty, 1998). This proved fruitful, and Droz produced a dozen or so gilt pattern halfpenny pieces at the end of February and sketches of the presses by the end of March. From what I can gather from Doty's book, this was the most work that Boulton was able to secure from Droz up until this point. Boulton, reassured by Droz's work, realized that he needed to secure him in England if he ever hoped to benefit from his skills. Doty (1998) notes that Boulton sent him a letter in May of 1788 requesting his relocation to Birmingham. Droz seemingly agrees but predictably postponed his trip.

The following month marked a dark time in the early history of the Soho Mint. Although Droz managed to produce another 54 gilt pattern halfpennies, they were struck by hand, suggesting he was having trouble with his new press (Doty, 1998). Despite this seemingly important detail, Boulton was eager to lobby for a coinage contract, and the new patterns would be an excellent tool to use. From most accounts, the patterns seemed to make quite the impression, which was both a blessing and a curse. Doty (1998) notes the specimens were of such exceptional quality that Royal Mint officials objected to the possibility of a private citizen producing them. In short, the Royal Mint officials were threatened, and if Boulton were to succeed, it could put them in a precarious situation (Martin, 2009). To make matters worse, the King soon fell ill, and the Lords of the Committee were in no rush to approve a new currency when they unsure whose effigy it needed to depict (Doty, 1998; Selgin, 2011). Undeterred, Boulton continued lobbying to no avail. As if things were not already complicated enough, Droz decided in October 1798 to finally give into Boulton's earlier requests and move to Birmingham, which was a near disaster. Droz and his entourage had no issue clearing customs, but Droz's suitcase shared a different fate. Suspicious Royal Mint officials seized Droz's suitcase, which contained his secret new collar device that played a crucial role in building Boulton's case to secure a coinage contract. Luckily, the Royal Mint officials overlooked the collar, and his luggage was soon returned (Pollard, 1968; Doty, 1998). The more significant issue was that Droz was finally in England, but Boulton had next to nothing for him to work on. Boulton already found himself in a perilous financial situation, and the added strain of paying Droz's salary without a way to recoup his money only served to make matters worse.

1789 GEORGE III RESTORED TO HEALTH
The following year afforded a series of opportunities that Boulton took full advantage of. The early months of 1798 marked the King's recovery, and Boulton had a great idea. He decided to produce medals to commemorate the King's recovery (Pollard, 1968). This, of course, had several advantages. It provided something for Droz to work on, it provided the workers at Soho much-needed experience, and the new medals could serve as a representative of Soho's capabilities. It seems as though the medals were a success, and the first batch sold in April with production running until the end of June (Doty, 1998). Finally, Boulton was able to profit off Droz's employment, but this was a short-lived victory. Although the medals made good impressions on the right people, there was still too much opposition to Boulton's proposal. No further developments would occur for some time.

During the rest of 1798 and through the end of 1790, the Soho Mint would experience a long series of ups and downs. Droz would return to his despondent ways, which took a heavy toll on his relationship with just about every prominent figure at Soho. Boulton, fed up with the inadequacy of Droz's work ethic, was aware of the fact that Droz was unlikely to be of much help; however, a looming contract to produce regal copper coinage for England unscored Boulton's perceived reliance on Droz. After all, it was the pattern pieces with the edge inscription that so thoroughly impressed the committee. Boulton made one last attempt to secure and motive the services of Droz. No contract was established between the two men until this point, but this changed in November of 1790 (Doty, 1998). For better or worse, Boulton and Droz were linked by contract for two more years. The new terms required Droz to complete the master dies for the pattern pieces, train workers to engrave the collar pieces, and produce the die-cutting lathe. Not surprisingly, he failed to complete any of these tasks (Pollard, 1968). After arbitration, Droz was eventually dismissed, marking the departure of one of Soho's most prominent villains.

On a more positive note, a great deal of progress was made on the machinery in 1789, which allowed Boulton to file a patent for the steam-powered press on July 8th, 1790. Doty (1998) speculates that Boulton likely filed this patent application to dissuade any future attempts by Droz to claim the invention as his own. As we will see, Droz was not above attempting to commit intellectual theft, but that is a story for later (for more information view the item in this set titled "1801(03) Spain Droz Fraud Medal Skinner Collection". As it turns out, Droz's new collar was of little consequence after the leading engineer at Soho, James Lawson, devised a one-piece rising collar. Doty (1998) noted that the engineers improved the number of blows each machine could make from 40 per minute in June to 55 by early July. At the same time, they managed to build another press and figured out a way to improve the life of dies. Despite all of these technical advances, they were useless without securing contracts to produce coins, tokens, or medals. During 1791 the Soho Mint would strike coins for Bombay and tokens for numerous outfits, but the little money earned from this sporadic business was not covering the expenses (Doty, 1998). A series of unfortunate events would eventually place a further financial strain on Boulton, and he had no choice but to dismiss a substantial portion of his workers toward the end of 1791.

Luckily, 1792 would prove a little more promising for the Soho Mint. The French Revolution paved the way for Boulton to secure a contract with the Monneron Brothers to produce numerous medals and token coinage for France (Jones, 1989). This was the first true test of Soho's capabilities, and by most accounts, it was not going well. Boulton's longtime rival, Thomas Willaims, was cornering the available supply of copper, and this made production difficult enough for Boulton, but this issue was just the beginning. As it turns out, the 5 Sol pieces were so large and thick that the recoil reduced production speed to 45 blows per minute (Doty, 1998). Boulton struggled to stay current with proposed timelines, and the slow production delayed payment for his work, furthering his financial strain (Margolis, 1988). It is no secret that the Soho Mint nearly ruined Boulton financially. Droz singlehandedly cost him more than £3000, which is nothing compared to the £9000 he had paid for other mint related expenses all in just four years (Doty, 1998). According to the Bank of England's inflation calculator, this equates to £1,822,880 ($2,357,074) today. Feeling the pressure of his financial hardships, Boulton, at one point, actively sought to sell his mint to either the Monneron Brothers or the French government (Margolis, 1988; Doty, 1998). Luckily for us, Boulton was unsuccessful in his attempts, and the Soho Mint lived to see another day. The technical and financial issues would continue to plague the Soho Mint, but through the sporadic profit from foreign coinage contracts, striking medals, and domestic tokens, the Soho Mint persevered.

Throughout the early years of the Soho Mint, several hard lessons were learned, all of which undoubtedly influenced its success. Producing the 5 Sol coins for the Monneron Brothers was a real challenge for the Soho Mint, even after several years of minting experience and countless technical improvements. Doty (1998) argued that had Boulton secured an English coinage contract, he would have been woefully underprepared to fulfill it, and this would have undoubtedly tarnished his otherwise fine reputation. In essence, the long series of delays (e.g., Droz's unwillingness to work, technical difficulties, skeptical Royal Mint officials, the King's bout of madness, and the unmotivated Lords of the Committee on Coin) eventually would prove to be a blessing in disguise. Despite all this hard-earned wisdom, Boulton and his Soho Mint still had a long and bumpy path ahead of them.

Success, inadequacy, and overkill:

As the title might suggest, Boulton was eventually able to secure a contract with the English government, but it was far from a smooth journey. Unlike Boulton's past misinterpretations, a contract to strike English copper was all but a given by the Winter of 1797 (Doty, 1998; Dyer, 2002). As before, Boulton did not miss a beat and traveled to London to lobby for the process to pass through the bureaucratic red tape that held it back for so long. It appears the project had hit full steam by the 3rd of March, 1797, which is supported by a letter from Lord Liverpool to Boulton, essentially notifying him that he had been awarded the contract (Doty, 1998). Despite this promising communication, Boulton would not receive the official patent until June, a detail Boulton did not fully foresee. Much work remained to be done in London (e.g., find material, settle on the details for the designs, etc.), and Boulton remained there for some time. Boulton's attention to detail is the hallmark of the pieces that he produced. No detail was too small for consideration. This is evident in the feedback he provided on the designs to the engravers, requiring the smallest of alterations to fully satisfy his tastes and that of the Lords of the Committee on Coin (Tungate, 2010). Although some details of the new coinage were set by the government, Boulton did have leeway to express his prowess. For instance, the government stipulated the weight of the new coinage but made no restriction on the size of the pieces. Boulton took this opportunity to incorporate his own love of standardization. In a letter dated May 19th, 1797, reproduced by Prosser (1913), we learn that Boulton intended for his coinage to adhere to standard foot measurements. The letter details that eight twopence pieces placed edge to edge should measure exactly one standard foot according to the standard he obtained from the Royal Society. He made similar requests for pence (17 to 2 feet), halfpence (10 to a foot), and farthings (12 to a foot). While away in London, he left this task to John Southern, who by Posser's (1913) account was the most scientifically inclined worker at Soho at the time.
SIZE COMPARISON OF CIRCULATING COINAGE


Luckily, Boulton had a solid crew back in Birmingham that was more than capable of working in his absence. A Mr. Brown seemingly took the lead at Soho, and correspondence between him and Boulton underscores how anxious the latter was about the toll the new coinage would take on the machinery (Doty, 1998). The much-anticipated patent was not for the halfpence pieces Boulton had hoped and prepared for. Instead, the government wanted pence and Two pence pieces. These new coins dwarfed the Monneron 5 Sol tokens that nearly wrecked the Soho Mint years earlier, a fact that Boulton was painfully aware of. Doty (1998) noted that Boulton wrote to John Southern requesting that air pumps be added to counter the violent recoil that would undoubtedly occur. As one can see, the lessons learned from the Monneron contract were not soon forgotten (Margolis, 1988). Despite all of the improvements made, it seems that Boulton and his associates were not entirely confident that their machinery would be up to the task. Boulton had the idea of rebuilding his mint, but without a notable improvement to how the machines were connected to the steam engine, any change would do little to improve their chances of success.

Without a better option, Boulton went forward with his plans and put his mint to work on the 19th of June, 1797, striking pence (Peck, 1964; Doty, 1998). Boulton's fears would soon be realized. Among the numerous issues, perhaps the most concerning was noise. As Doty (1998) suggests, this may be a bit exaggerated, but numerous records indicate that the noise was unbearable and may have even caused the deafness of several workers. More than ever, Boulton realized he needed a new way to connect the presses to the steam engine. By some miracle, John Southern had a solution that made the entire operation smoother and reduced many of the issues that plagued the Soho Mint. With a solution to the problems in hand, it suddenly made sense to build an entirely new mint incorporating the revised technology, thus giving rise to the second Soho Mint. From the records provided by Doty (1998), it appears work on the second Soho Mint started the 1st of April, 1798, and continued until the winter of 1800, with the bulk of the work being completed in 1799. It appears the second Soho Mint was fully operational by May of 1799, but this was a slow and complicated process. The new presses were built and temporarily set up to strike pence in the old mint to keep up with deadlines. Once the new two-story structure was erected and the steam engine settled on the second floor, the new presses were moved in waves to the new complex. The first two presses were fully operational in the second Soho Mint by late February of 1799, with two more joining in early March, and the remaining four by the 1st of May (Doty, 1998). A little wiser and perhaps even more determined than ever, Boulton had finally finished the mint that he aspired to build.

The 1797 patent detailed that a total of 500 tons of copper pence and twopence pieces were to be struck, with 20 tons being delivered each week (Doty, 1998). Despite all of the difficulties, Boulton mostly managed to keep good to his timelines. The first delivery arrived in London on the 26th of July, 1797, and an official announcement was made denoting the new coinage as legal tender (Doty, 1998). Pence were struck through 1797 and 1799, but twopence production did not begin until January of 1798 and was complete by April. Oddly enough, through a series of unofficial renewals of the original 1797 patent, another 20 tons of twopence would be struck in early 1799 (Doty, 1998). By the end of this contract and the two renewals, a total of 43,969,204 pence and 722,180 twopence were struck for a total of 44,691,384 coins. Supposedly, the working dies were destroyed on the 26th of July, 1799, under the supervision of the assigned Royal Mint comptroller Joseph Sage marking the official end to the production of pence and twopence pieces (Doty, 1998). The second Soho Mint proved efficient, and this created another set of issues. A new contract for English copper was not likely in the foreseeable future. The Mint's efficient production made it unlikely that the old and new contracts would ever overlap. With Boulton's finances still recovering from Soho's formative years, and the lack of reliable income flow from the mint, he had little choice but to lay-off a sizable portion of his roughly 140 mint employees (Doty). This would be a general pattern that would repeat until 1803 when business at the Soho Mint would boom.
1799 Proof Farthing

As proud as Boulton must have been to produce pence and twopence pieces, his real ambition was to strike halfpence. After all, the halfpence had been the workhorse driving the wage-based pay of the working class. Furthermore, the halfpence were the target of choice for the counterfeiters. Perhaps if Boulton were allowed to strike halfpence of the same quality as the pence and twopence pieces, it would mostly resolve the ever-growing issue of lightweight counterfeits. Not to mention, Boulton already had preparations in place to strike both halfpence and farthings. By May of 1799, it appears that Boulton had devised a new design for the halfpence and farthings. As detailed by Doty (1998), Boulton notes that the wide rim found on the pence and twopence pieces would be reduced, the field would be curved to help protect the higher relief points of the design, and an oblique pattern would be impressed on the edges of the coins before striking them in a collar. Reducing the broad raised rim would help facilitate the striking process and reduce the toll it would take on the presses, a hard lesson learned from their first English contract plagued with ongoing issues and delays. Perhaps it was Boulton's prior experience that led him to technically break the law. Yes, you read that correctly. The well-mannered, morally sound, and patriotic Boulton technically broke the law. Correspondence between Boulton and John Southern indicates that all eight presses were in operation at the second Soho Mint by the 1st of May of 1799 (Doty, 1998). The letters further detail that six presses were striking pence, one press was striking halfpence, and the final striking farthings. Production of the halfpence and farthings was suspended during the first week of May due to a high profile political visitor, but it appears it was resumed, and some 20 tons of halfpence and farthings were struck by the 20th of August, 1799. Although The Lords on the Committee of Coin invited Boulton to make a formal proposal for halfpence on the 17th of August, 1798, he wouldn't receive the official green light until the 4th of November 1799 (Doty, 1998). Under the current laws, his clandestine minting operation would have been highly illegal, and I can only imagine the history of the Soho Mint would be different had the suspicious Royal Mint officials discovered what Boulton was up to.

Boulton's secret remained safe, and official production of 550 tons of regal coppers with the ratio of 10 halfpennies to each farthing commenced on the 10th of November 1799, with the first shipment scheduled to occur on the 18th of November (Doty, 1998). The improvements made when building the second Soho Mint proved highly efficient, and little trouble occurred while fulfilling this new contract. The Soho Mint was able to finish the second contract by the 18th of July, 1800, and in total, 46,704,000 coins were struck, 42,480,000 halfpennies, and 4,224,000 farthings (Doty, 1998). Between 1800 and 1802, the Soho Mint witnessed a return to the boom or bust state from the mint's formative years. It would be several more years before Boulton would again be asked to strike copper coinage for England, but he found work striking coins for numerous foreign countries. Between 1800 and 1805, the Soho mint would produce coins for numerous countries such as Sumatra, Isle of Man, Ceylon, Presidency of Madras, Bombay, and Ireland.

NEW SECURITY EDGE OF THE 1799 COINAGE
The Isle of Man coinage, to some extent, was a byproduct of the 1797 English contract. It appears that John, Duke of Atholl, was so impressed with the large pence pieces that he wrote a letter to the King requesting that Boulton, instead of the Royal Mint, produce the new coinage for the Isle of Man (Doty, 1998). The Royal Mint had fulfilled the island's needs in 1786, and although those coins were a marked improvement upon their English counterparts, they were still far inferior compared to what Boulton was able to produce. It would be nearly two more years before Boulton received the official patent. In the meantime, Boulton put Küchler to work preparing the new dies. Doty (1998) noted that the obverse design allowed him to recycle the bust of George III used on the 1797 coinage, but the considerably smaller size presented some difficulty. The reverse design was entirely new. Britannia was replaced with the triune and triskele, and the English motto was replaced with the Manx motto (Nelson, 1899). From most accounts, production began on the 4th of March, 1799, and in the end, some 94,8282 pence and 194,376 halfpence were produced for a total of 289,204 coins (Doty, 1998; Tungate, 2010). The new arrivals were popular, and another order was placed in 1813. This second contract was shipped on the 15th of June, 1813, and consisted of another 99,400 pence and 98,308 halfpence (Doty, 1998). This would mark the final chapter for the Soho Mint and the Isle of Man.

A few years after the conclusion of the first Isle of Man contract, the East India Company approached Boulton seeking a coinage for its newly acquired territory, Ceylon. By this point, the Soho Mint was a well-oiled machine, and the contract was fulfilled by the 29th of May, 1802 (Doty, 1998). The Ceylon coinage's quick production and delivery must have made a rather large impression on the East India Company's authorities, as they soon placed an order for their other territory, the Madras Presidency. As it turns out, the East India Company had been trying to secure a contract with Boulton since the early months of 1800, but Boulton was entirely too busy with his domestic obligations to seriously consider it (Doty, 1998). Eventually, this would give rise to a massive order for copper coinage. The only catch was that the obverse and reverse would be entirely different than anything else produced at Soho. The obverse would depict the East India Company's arms and motto, while the reverse would contain the denomination in both Persian and English. The latter detail was more complicated, as the East India Company would have to provide a consultant to make sure the inscriptions were correct. The consultant's name was Dr. Wilkins, and by most accounts, he was a perfectionist that made the engraver's job very difficult (Doty, 1998). Although caught in the crosshairs of Dr. Wilkins and Küchler, the engraver John Phillip (the same one rumored to be Boulton's illegitimate son) managed to produce ready dies by October of 1802. Production began shortly after, and by the end of May 1803, a total of 37,926, 576 were struck and delivered (Doty, 1998).

Boulton was able to produce and ship the Madras coinage with such efficiency that it should be of little surprise that the East India Company would call upon the Soho Mint to produce coinage for the Bombay Presidency. According to the East India Company records provided by Stevens (2019), copper coinage production in Bombay was not only expensive, but the machinery the locals had at their disposal was entirely too inadequate. To this end, it would be cheaper and more efficient to import copper coinage from England. The company's arms and logo appeared on the obverse, much like the Madras coinage, but the reverse was slightly different. Balanced scales would be depicted on the reverse with the Persian legend "Adil" separating the two pans, and the date would occur immediately below in Arabic figures (Stevens, 2017). The obverse design was justified as these coins were expected to freely circulate in Bengal and Bombay, both of which were under the authority of the East India Company (Kalra, 2013: Stevens, 2019). This new design must have been somewhat of a relief for Phillips. The shorter Persian legend likely required less tutelage from Dr. Wilkins and a greater ability to avoid Küchler. Once complete on the 28th of April, 1803, a total of 12,240,550 were struck for Bombay (Doty, 1998). The relationship with the East India Company provided much-needed work for the Soho Mint and, to some extent, marked the beginning of the mint's busiest period.

The next most significant coinage contract for the Soho Mint would be a little closer to home. Ireland was in desperate need of a new coinage, and talks started as early as 1804, but not surprisingly, the government was slow to act. It wasn't until the 26th of March of 1805 that Boulton was finally permitted to move forward with a new coinage for Ireland (Doty, 1998). The new coinage would be similar to their English counterparts. The obverse would be the same as the 1799 English coinage; the denominations would be the same, albeit slightly lighter. Perhaps the most notable change was the reverse. Britannia was replaced with a harp. Given other obligations at the time, production was slightly delayed until April. In the end, a total of 8,788,416 pence, 49,795,200 halfpence, and 4,996,992 farthings were struck for a total of 63,580,608 new Irish copper coins (Doty, 1998). Oddly enough, Boulton seemed to take particular pride in this contract and even placed it before starting the third run of English copper.
1805 IRELAND PENNY


The third and final English contract was far from immune to the issues that delayed the prior coinage. The Lords of the Committee on Coin were indecisive, and the bureaucratic process proceeded at a snail's pace. Nonetheless, Boulton was asked to submit a formal proposal on the 20th of November 1804, to which he responded six days later (Doty, 1998). It appears that some confusion occurred that further delayed production, but eventually, matters came underhand, and work began. Production did not officially start until the 20th of March, 1806, with farthings taking precedence over pence and halfpence. Accordingly, Doty (1998) reports that by the 31st of March, 4,833,768 farthings were delivered and 19,355,480 pence closely followed that in May, and 87,893,526 halfpence by the end of June. Production of farthings, halfpence, and pence continued into 1807, yielding an additional 1,075,200 farthings, 41,394,384 halfpence, and 11,290,168 pence. The mass production seemingly overwhelmed distribution efforts. In fact, it appears that the distribution of the third English contract was not complete until 1809 (Doty, 1998). Once production had stopped, a total of 165,842,526 new copper coins had been released into circulation, leading to a glut in copper coinage.

The rise and fall of the 3rd Soho Mint:

The last English copper coinage produced by the Soho Mint was distributed in March of 1809, just four months before the passing of Matthew Boulton on August 17th, 1809 (Doty, 1998). I think it rather fitting that the elder Boulton held on long enough to see the job through to the end. Up until this point, his son, Matthew Robinson Boulton (hereunto referred to as Matt) along with his partner James Watt Jr., ran the day to day operations of the Soho Mint. As such, it seems natural that Matt would petition the Lord of the Committee on Coin to continue production of copper coinage for England on July 27th, 1809 (Doty, 1998). Not surprisingly, this request was denied. The public was saturated, and the copper coinage crisis had been completely relieved. Furthermore, Boulton's persistence ensured that the Royal Mint purchased a steam-powered mint from him, eliminating the need for Soho Mint. It would make little sense for the government to pay a private contractor for work that they were now more than capable of themselves. The English government's reliance on the Soho Mint was dissolved, and Matt would never have the opportunity to rebuild it.

The Soho Mint's fate now rested in Matt's hands, who, by most accounts, seemed less than enthusiastic about continuing the family business. It seems as though without the help of James Watt Jr., the Soho Mint, would have essentially been out of work between 1810 and the early 1820s (Doty, 1998). During this time, the Soho Mint would produce copper planchets for the United States, Brazil, and Portugal. Except for a small order for the Isle of Man in 1813, the Soho Mint did not secure any notable coinage contracts. This lack of activity took a financial toll on Matt, and he could not afford to continue paying the bills. He eventually decided to sell the Soho Mint and began looking for buyers. In the meantime, Watt secured a contract to strike coins for St Helena, which was completed in June of 1821. Around this time, the East India Company had expressed interest in purchasing the Soho Mint, and the St Helena coinage served as a demonstration for the potential buyers. It took them some time to decide, but they agreed to purchase the mint on February 13th, 1823 (Doty, 1998). During this time, the Soho Mint was engaged in producing copper coinage for Buenos Aires, which was an extension of a prior contract. Once production was complete, the mint was dismantled, and by August of 1823, the process of taking it down and packaging it up was mostly complete.

1830 GUERNSEY DOUBLE
Finally, Matt was rid of his father's mint, and he could instead spend his time with his family and engage in leisurely activities, or so it would seem. Given the prior two contracts with Buenos Aires, it was logical to think that a much larger order was to come, and it seemed as though Columbia might also require coins and a mint (Doty, 1998). This would have been perfect for Matt as he could construct a new mint, strike coinage for both Buenos Aires and Columbia, and then sell the newly constructed mint to the latter. Construction began in 1824 and continued until it was halted in 1826. Buenos Aires and Columbia's political climate had deteriorated, and it seemed unlikely that the coinage contract was to follow from either country. The third Soho Mint remained unengaged and unfished for several years until 1830. In November of 1830, the mint managed to complete a small order of coins for Guernsey without steam. This might seem odd, the third Soho Mint was not fully operational with steam power until June 1831, and even then, it was half the size of its predecessor (Doty, 1998). Had it not been for the impending contract to produce many tokens for Singapore, the third Soho Mint might never have been powered by steam. Under Matt and Watt Jr.'s direction, the third Soho Mint was eventually successful in striking coins and tokens for Guernsey, Chili, Singapore, and the Lower Bank of Canada. This success lasted until Matt passed in the summer of 1842, and the fate of the Soho Mint once again was in danger.

At the time of Matt's death, his son Matthew Piers Watt Boulton (hereunto referred to as Piers) was too young to run the family business. In his place, three trusted advisors, Joseph Westley, Thomas Jones Wilkinson, and Charles James Chubb, would determine the fate of the third Soho Mint. At first, it seemed as though it would be sold, and several potential buyers arranged in-depth inspections of the facility in 1842, but both deals fell through (Doty, 1998). With little other options, the advisors decided to run the Soho Mint themselves. Luckily for them, Piers came of age on September 22nd of 1843 and joined them in the decision making process. As noted by Vice (1995), Piers opted to keep the mint operating to increase its marketability. The financial toll of operating a mint eventually hit Piers, and he opted to sell the entire mint at auction. The third Soho Mint would be cataloged and auctioned off on the 29th and 30th of April, 1850. Once vacant, the buildings were rented out until they burnt to the ground in 1863 (Doty, 1998). Although this may mark the last chapter of the Soho Mint's history of striking coins, the story is far from over.

A lasting impact:

Boulton's Soho Mint was able to rapidly produce high-quality copper coinage that would stand the test of time and ultimately meet the general public's needs. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to refute the accomplishments of the Soho Mint. Still, some may wonder if his coinage did curb counterfeiting that had plagued England for centuries. To address this, we must first revisit the pence and twopence pieces of 1797. Despite the lack of edge lettering, the new pence and twopence pieces did have some features that would deter counterfeiting. For one, the coins were well made and noticeably more massive than any other circulating regal piece. Their expansiveness allowed for the possibility of wide raised rims which contained the incuse legend. The large raised rims would help protect the primary devices from excessive wear, and the incuse legend assured it would survive long after the raised rims wore down. All of this is to say that for counterfeits to pass, they would have to be of much higher quality, which would likely translate into less profit for the counterfeiters. Although not the intent of Boulton, there was another factor that protected at least the twopence pieces. As it turns out, the general public was not very fond of them (Selgin, 2011). They were enormous and heavy (i.e., 41 mm and 2 ounces) and were too bulky to carry around in any quantity. Because of this, they tended to build up in storekeeper's drawers, but the storekeepers had no real way of exchanging them for paper money or silver. All of these factors made them unpopular and therefore were less susceptible to counterfeiting.

1797 LIGHTWEIGHT COUNTERFEIT PENCE
The Pennies were also rather large and heavy (i.e., 36 mm and weighed an ounce), but they were better received than their larger counterparts and circulated in excess of the next 65 years (Dyer, 1996). This made for an ideal target for counterfeiters. The large raised rims, incuse legend, and high quality did not prove sufficient to curb counterfeiting, as it turns out (Ruding, 1799; Ruding, 1819; Doty, 1998; Selgin, 2003). Individuals could collect genuine examples, melt them down, and make lightweight pieces. The excess copper from this process would yield substantial profit. Although this never became a widespread problem, it contradicted Boulton's claim, and he had a vested interest in curbing the issue. Most notably, he wished to secure future contracts to strike regal English copper, and this counterfeit issue could prove a considerable hindrance. Boulton was so concerned that he announced a 100 guinea payment for actionable information about the counterfeiters (Doty, 1998). As detailed by numerous sources, this led to a man named William Phillips to come forward with information about three counterfeiting outfits located in none other than Birmingham (Dickerson, 1936; Peck, 1964; Selgin, 2011). Boulton acted on this information, which eventually led to numerous arrests.

Although some of the earlier pieces were low-quality casts that were easily identified, the counterfeits became quite sophisticated as time went on. As noted by Clay and Tungate (2009) and further substantiated by Selgin (2011), the shallow designs proved to be much easier to reproduce than Boulton thought. Soon counterfeiters were engraving dies and striking pieces that were close replications of the actual coins despite the use of hand-operated presses. For those of you interested, Dickerson (1936) gives a full unabridged replication of the letter Boulton sent to the Lords of the Committee on Coin, which details the simultaneous raid on three separate counterfeiting facilities. However, so far, the focus of the counterfeits discussed were products created from fake dies. Peck (1964) notes that some counterfeits were produced using genuine dies that were stolen from the Soho Mint. He makes this argument based on the die diagnostics of the pieces he observed. I have full confidence in his conclusions; however, I have had no luck finding additional information on this topic. He even mentions that the origin of these struck counterfeits using genuine dies remains a mystery.

1806 LIGHTWEIGHT COUNTERFEIT ½ PENCE
An odd discrepancy to this point comes from Doty (1998), who points out that the working dies for the pence and twopence pieces were destroyed under the supervision of a Royal Mint official on July 26th, 1799. Of course, this does not preclude the possibility the dies were stolen before being destroyed. I have no answers to this problem, but I plan to continue digging. Peck (1964) mentions that the pieces were struck on a light planchet that was roughly 1 mm thinner than usual (i.e., 2 mm instead of 3 mm) and weighed substantially less (i.e., about 19 grams compared to a full ounce). The weight alone is enough to give these coins away; however, the next biggest clue can be found within the legends which run into the rims. As noted, the genuine coins were designed to prevent this from happening. The struck pieces using the genuine Soho dies (i.e., Peck-1110) are rather good, and I imagine these readily passed as currency at the time. To take this one step further, I would not be surprised if these fooled some collectors who assumed they were well-circulated genuine examples. Although the lack of written record of other Soho produced English coinage suggests they do not exist, the 1806 contemporary counterfeit in my collection suggests otherwise. This is a relatively novel research area for me, but at the minimum, we can assume that others likely exist. Despite Boulton's claims, his coinage was not immune to counterfeiting, but this does little to deter from his undeniable legacy. Before his involvement, the counterfeiting issue was so prevalent that a Royal Mint report from 1787 estimates that only 8% of circulating copper was genuine (Peck, 1964). Although I do not have an estimated number to report, I would hazard to guess that this number was substantially higher after Boulton flooded the country with high-quality copper coinage. With the mass counterfeiting in England under control, the Soho Mint could turn its sights towards loftier goals, such as revolutionizing money worldwide.

The Soho Mint had provided high-quality copper coinage to numerous countries, that without doubt, helped to replace the counterfeits that freely circulated before a better alternative was provided. As impactful as the coins may have been to different locales, the importance of selling ready to strike mints was likely much more profound. Over the years, Boulton would prove pivotal in setting up revolutionary mints in countries like Russia, Denmark, India, Mexico, and Brazil (Doty, 1998; Kalra, 2013). It is one thing to supply a steady stream of copper coinage, but it is entirely different to provide each country with the ability to take charge of their coinage reforms. Boulton's willingness to share his invention with the world allowed other countries to curb counterfeiting and gain internal stability (Selgin, 2003). For England, Boulton was able to supply an adequate amount of copper coinage and help them set up a self-sufficient mint using his technology. Eventually, coins would be struck by the Royal Mint using the same technology that struck its predecessors under the direction of Boulton. The new technology was so useful that it would remain in operation at Soho well until the 1880s (Doty, 1998). Even upon its demise in April of 1850, the Soho Mint gave rise to further innovation. The giant machines erected by Matt were sold at auction to Heaton & Sons, who eventually established the Heaton Mint. They would go on to strike coinage for various countries for over a century.

In the end, Boulton set out to better the lives of his countrymen, but in reality, he managed to achieve much more. His Soho Mint and the steam-powered mints that he sold would go on to impact generations of people across the globe. As technology advanced, the use of steam power to mint coins became obsolete, but nearly every modern coin in circulation today can trace its ancestry back to work done at the Soho Mint (Tungate, 2010). So the next time you get a handful of change in return, take a moment to appreciate the long numismatic journey that allowed for their development.

Restrikes:

The Soho Mint would eventually produce some of the finest coinage of the era. This, paired with its fame, would eventually demand collectors' attention, both counterparty and modern (Tungate, 2010). It is no secret that Boulton spread proof "samples" of his wares to anyone of power who would have them, such as the 300 medals he sent to help ease the process of selling a mint to brazil (Gilboy, 1990). Notable patrons and devoted collectors of his coins, medals, and tokens included George III, Sarah Sophia Banks, the Duke of Portland, and Samuel Birchall (Tungate, 2010). He understood that placing a well-made and artistically pleasing coin in the hands of a potential buyer made an argument against his employment mute. In short, Boulton was a shrewd businessman, and he used his abilities to impress and subsequently attract new contracts for his Soho Mint. It should be of little surprise that doing so also made his coins, tokens, and medals all that more appealing to collectors. In the Soho Mint's early years, Boulton would fulfill request for older patterns and proofs for collector consumption (Peck, 1964; Vice, 1995; Doty, 1998; Tungate, 2010). This practice would eventually become obsolete as the mint became more engaged with large coinage contracts, but this did little to curb the collector demand. This demand and the unfortunate action of a family member would, regrettably, introduce restrikes to the collecting world. For clarity, the term "restrike" is used to denote a coin, medal, or token that was struck after Soho's demise by William Joseph Taylor, not to be confused with a "late Soho" piece which was struck at the Soho Mint at a later date than indicated on the piece (Peck, 1964). To trace the history of these "restrikes", we must first revisit the final years of the third Soho Mint.

1799 "RESTRIKE" 1/2 PENNY
As I noted earlier, when Matt had passed away in 1842, his son Piers was too young to run the family business. As such, the will appointed the trustees to run it in his absence, and when he came of age the following year, he played an active role in the fate of the Soho Mint. Eventually, Piers would opt to sell it, and he left the task mainly to two of his trustees. The old myth poised that the trustees haphazardly discarded several dies with a batch of scrap metal purchased by Taylor at the auction in 1850 (Peck, 1964; Doty, 1998; Vice, 1995). I had little reason to believe that this version of the story was anything but true until a fellow collector pointed me in the direction of a well-written article by David Vice. In his article, he suggests a very different series of events. As it turns out, Piers' hands-off approach to the sale of the Soho Mint would spark a large amount of controversy and ill will between all parties involved. As noted by Vice (1995), he was unaware that any tokens, medals, or coins were to be sold at auction, much less any dies or punches used to strike them. He was blissfully unaware that almost 300 older medals were struck in the early months of 1850, leading up to the sale. His ignorance was partly due to his lack of involvement and the fact that he did not receive a copy of the auction catalog until after it had been published. Upon learning all of this information, Piers sternly objected, but there was nothing that could be done. The auction was right around the corner, and the catalogs had already been distributed to potential buyers.

Although Piers would be unable to prevent the auction from occurring, he could make several countermoves to prevent the four complete collections of Soho medals (page 13 of the auction catalog) as well as the dies and punches used to strike them from leaving the hands of the family. As it turns out, the nearly 300 medals struck in 1850 were produced using Piers' personal supply of copper, which meant that the newly made medals were rightfully his property (Vice, 1995). Their removal from the sale made it impossible for the four sets to be considered complete. Next, Boulton would turn his attention to the 235 dies and punches (Medals: 122; Pattern coinage: 113) that were to be auctioned off. Vice (1995) notes that Piers would appoint someone to bid on his behalf to acquire these through the auction. For all of his efforts, Piers managed to retain almost 2,000 dies and punches for numerous medals, tokens, and coinage. Vice (1995) reproduces a letter dated April 26th, 1850, in which Piers justifies his actions. In short, Piers claims that he acquired the dies to protect the legacy of the Soho Mint and the collectors of its products by retaining the dies and preventing restrikes from being made.

Had this been the case, then it would have been a very noble effort on behalf of Piers, but as pointed out by Vice (1995), history would tell a very different tale. Of the nearly 2,000 dies and punches that Piers managed to save, over 1,500 of them corresponded to currency issues for various countries. The trustees were very cautious to ensure that the dies used to strike circulating coinage did not make their way into the general public's hands. In fact, they intended to destroy them (Vice, 1995). Piers objected to this, and they subsequently passed to him for storage. This point makes it particularly troublesome that an auction would occur in mid-1780, containing many modern restrikes using currency dies. Given that the dies were under such close watch by Piers, it seems odd that somehow they managed to fall into private hands that would make nearly a 1000 restrikes of various denominations in several different metals. Perhaps this is the first indication that Piers' intentions may not have been as pure.

The second indication comes from a letter reproduced by Peck (1964) and Vice (1995) written on October 3rd, 1887, from James Henry to R. A. Hoblyn. In this letter Henry recounts, the story told to him by Taylor detailing the casks of dies filled with wax sent to him by Mr. Boulton (Aka Piers). Given light of the evidence, it seems clear that Piers did play some role in the restrikes of the Soho pieces that were produced. If nothing else, it seems clear that he enabled Taylor by giving him the dies that he used to strike countless numbers of restrikes over the remaining portion of his life. Of course, one could argue that perhaps Taylor's restriking operation was not as large as implied, but the evidence provided by Peck (1964) on page 614 would suggest otherwise. Vice (1995) points out that Peck's report details 804 restrikes for a single transaction. It seems reasonable that multiple such transactions took place.

Piers' unethical and hypocritical actions make him perhaps one of the biggest villains of the Soho Mint. By most accounts, his father and grandfather were decent, morally grounded men that ushered a new "standard" of minting. It is a shame that Piers did not follow in their footsteps, but I suppose knowing this bit of history only adds intrigue for those who pursue the wares of the Soho Mint and the byproducts of their tools.

A complicated classification:

At times, it can be next to impossible, if not impossible, to distinguish between proofs, patterns, and currency strikes struck at the Soho Mint and those produced by Taylor. As such, these pieces dubbed "Taylor restrikes" have only served to complicate further the study of the coins contained in this set. Although numerous attempts have been made, the gold standard was established by C. Wilson Peck in his 1960 publication entitled "English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in The British Museum 1558-1958," which was later revised in 1964. The Peck numbers listed alongside each coin in this set are pulled from the second edition of this invaluable work. Even Peck, with the numerous important collections and the British Museum's help, still struggled to differentiate the many patterns, proofs, currency strikes, and restrikes of the coins produced. He often notes that his classification is based on speculation, but every attempt was made to logically interpret the data at hand to be as accurate as possible.

The English Soho coinage can be classified as either Early Soho, Late Soho, or as a Restrike. Peck (1964) notes the term "early Soho" refers to coins struck at the Soho Mint on or before the date depicted on the coin. The term "late Soho" is reserved for coins struck at the Soho Mint, possibly after that date indicated on the coin. Although these coins were struck later, they are not classified as restrikes but rather as "late Soho" pieces. The term "restrike" denotes pieces that were not struck at the Soho mint but were instead struck by Taylor using Soho dies after the mint's demise.

Throughout the descriptions for each coin, I do my best to include Peck's classification and rarity in the first paragraph of the description. The edge details have been included as a separate section for each coin mainly because this can be a very helpful diagnostic. When available, I have done my best to include the number of examples graded by NGC and PCGS in each coin's notes section. The term "bronzed" is used frequently within this set, and it is essential that I first define it before its use. Bronzed pieces can be distinguished from their counterparts by the relatively grainy appearance of the devices. The bronzing process helped seal the surfaces of the coin and protect the color. It seems from many notes made by Peck this process occurred on the planchet before striking. The planchet was essentially wiped with a powder combination that left a layer of the material on the planchet.

The "other" products of the Soho Mint

There is little doubt that Matthew Boulton's crowning achievement for his Soho Mint was striking English regal copper coinage. After all, it was this ambition that gave rise to the mint and sealed its legacy. As crucial as this feat may be, it only addresses a portion of the Soho Mint's history. Throughout the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Soho Mints, a wide range of pieces were struck. These included coins, tokens, and medals. Within coin collecting circles, at least the ones that I have typically encountered in the past, the last two categories I just mentioned seem to be largely ignored in favor of the first. Although the tokens and medals are often discarded as "other" products, they provide historical detail about the Soho Mint and, at the very least, complement the history surrounding the coinage. To this end, I have recently built a new custom registry set entitled "The medals of Soho near Birmingham" to tell the story of the medals struck at the Soho Mint.

Tokens:

The registry set detailing the story of the tokens struck at the Soho Mint is a work in progress. I have the needed information contained within multiple pages of notes, but I have yet to find the time to formally write it up.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey and that having a better understanding of the Soho Mint's history will only deepen your appreciation of the pieces within this set. So without further delay, let's check out some coins, medals, and tokens!

References:

Brooke, G. C. (1932). English Coins from the Seventh Century to the Present Day. London: Methien & Co. LTD.

Clay, R., & Tungate, S. (2009). Matthew Boulton and the Art of Making Money. Warwickshire: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Cule, J. E. (1935). The Financial History of Matthew Boulton 1759-1800. (Master's Thesis). Retrieved from University of Birmingham Research Archive.

Dickerson, H. W. (1936). Matthew Boulton. Cambridge: Babcock and Wilcox, LTD. At the University Press.

Doty, R. (1998). The Soho Mint and the Industrialisation of Money. London: National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution.

Dyer, G. P. (1996). Thomas Graham's copper survey of 1857. Numismatic Journal, 66, 60-66.

Dyer, G. P. (2002). The currency crisis of 1797. Numismatic Journal, 72, 135-142.

Gale, W. K. V., Hist, F. R. S. (1966). Boulton, Watt and the Soho Undertakings. Birmingham: Museum of Science and Industry.

Gilboy, F. F. (1990). Misadventures of a mint - Boulton, Watt & Co. and the 'mint for the Brazils'. British Numismatic Journal, 60, 113-120.

Jones, M. (1989). Medals of the French Revolution. The Royal Society of Arts Journal, 137(5398), 640-646.

Kalra, M. (2013). The birth of the 'new' Bombay mint c. 1790-1830 — Matthew Boulton's pioneering contribution to modernization of Indian coinage. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 74, 416-425.

Margolis, R. (1988). Matthew Boulton' s French ventures of 1791 and 1792; tokens for the Monneron Frères of Paris and Isle de France. British Numismatic Journal, 58, 102-112.

Martin, M. (2009). Collecting Soho patterns and proofs. Numismatic Circular, 107-118.

Nelson, P. (1899). Coinage of the Isle of Man. The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society, 3(19), 35-80.

Peck, C. W. (1964). English Copper, Tin, and Bronze Coins in the British Museum 1558-1958. London: The trustees of the British Museum.

Pollard, J. G. (1970). Matthew Boulton and Conrad Heinrich Küchler. The Numismatic Chronicle, 10, 259-318.

Pollard, J. G. (1968). Matthew Boulton and J.-P. Droz. The Numismatic Chronicle, 8, 241-265.

Prosser, R. B. (1913). The Boulton copper coinage. The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, 13, 379-380.

Robinson, E. (1964). Matthew Boulton and the art of parliamentary lobbying. The Historical Journal, 7(2), 209-229.

Ruding, R. (1799). A proposal for restoring the antient constitution of the mint. London: Messrs Sewell, White, Egerton, Faulder, Wilkie, & Hatchard.

Ruding, R. (1819). Annals of the coinage of Britain and its dependencies, from the earliest period of authentick history to the end of the fifty-either year of the reign of his present Majesty King George III. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones.

Selgin, G. (2003). Steam, hot air, and small change: Matthew Boulton and the reform of Britain's coinage. The Economic History Review, 56(3), 478-509.

Selgin, G. (2011). Good Money Birmingham Button Makers, The Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage, 1775-1821. Oakland, California: The Independent Institute.

Stevens, P. J. E. (2017). The coins of the English East India Company. Presidency series a catalogue and pricelist. London: Spink and Sons Ltd.

Stevens, P. J. E. (2019). The coinage of the Bombay Presidency a study of the records of the EIC. London: Spink and Sons Ltd.

Tungate, S. (2010) Matthew Boulton and The Soho Mint: copper to customer (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I.

Vice, D. (1995). A fresh insight into Soho Mint restrikes & those responsible for their manufacture. Format Coins, Birmingham, 3-14.

Recommended Readings:

Mason, S. (2005). The hardware man's daughter. West Sussex: Phillimore & Co. Ltd.

Mason, S. (2009). Matthew Boulton selling all the world desires. London and New Haven: Yale University Press.

McKnight, W. A. (1931). Power and Matthew Boulton. The Sewanee Review, 39(2), 170-189.

Robinson, E. (1963). Eighteenth-century commerce and fashion: Matthew Boulton's marketing techniques. The Economic History Review, 16(1), 39-60.

Smiles, S. (1865). Lives of Boulton and Watt principally from the original Soho Mss. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company.

Uglow, J. (2002). The lunar men five friends whose curiosity changed the world. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

A few notes about my collection:

Several factors limit the breadth and scope of the current set. Perhaps the two most limiting factors are time and money in no specific order. I lack a reasonable amount of both. The coins denote denoted by the "Skinner Collection" pedigree are worthy of special consideration. Each of these pieces was hand-selected by me and, after much scrutiny, sent to NGC to be professionally graded. These are not always the finest examples, but each has something unique to add to the story. For example, you may quickly realize that I have a handful of circulated proofs in my collection. This is not by coincidence. I find the fact that even gilt patterns found their way into circulation to be fascinating. These gilt pieces were far too large to pass off as gold coins, and beyond the desperate need of the people for small coinage, there is little explanation for why they circulated. Other more notable pieces include those with pedigree back to either the James Watt Jr. or Boulton family collections. Almost all of these pieces were purchased raw and subsequently graded with the appropriate pedigree. These coins are often some of the most well-preserved specimens in my collection and further attest to the care and pride that both families had for the Soho Mint. Although most coins have a pedigree, a few pieces do not. In most cases, these were coins that I was unable to find a suitable raw example, or in some instances, an attractive certified example was the most economical option.
1804 BOMBAY PICE


When this set was first built, I relied upon my iPhone for photographs. This all changed when one of my other sets was awarded the "Most Creative Custom Set" honor, which, thanks to NGC's generosity, included a $500 grading credit. The grading credit freed up a significant amount of funds, which I later invested in a DSLR camera setup. Acquiring a high-quality camera has been a goal of mine for years, and I have NGC to thank for giving me the extra help to see its completion. I do my best to ensure that I capture an image that depicts the coin's actual color, character, and condition. This is an ongoing learning process, and I will periodically update the pictures as I hone my skills. I recently received a scholarship to attend the American Numismatic Association's Summer Seminar to take a course on numismatic photography, but it was canceled due to the global pandemic. The scholarship provided by the ANA carries to next year, so I still plan to take the course and learn all that I can from the pros. In the meantime, I plan to practice my craft and learn from those willing to teach me things.

Acknowledgments:

I have used NGC for almost all of my grading needs over the better portion of a decade, and not once have I been disappointed. Throughout the years, I have enjoyed interacting with some of the hardest working NGC team members. I want to thank Mr. Ben Wengel for his assistance with correctly identifying a 1797 Soho proof penny variety. I would also like to thank Mr. Scott Heller and Mr. David Camire. These two gentlemen were able to take a wishful idea of mine and make it a reality. In doing so, they ensured that the unique history told by the silver-lined brass shells will be preserved alongside their original coins for future generations to enjoy. Of course, all of this would not be possible if it were not for the helpful and friendly customer service staff who always patiently hear me out and guide me in the appropriate direction. All of you work together to provide truly exceptional customer service.

Set Goals
Although my ambition is to build a complete collection of the Soho Mint pieces, this would be an unrealistic goal. Instead, my goal is to accumulate a representative sample of Soho pieces that depict the height of artistic and scientific ingenuity of the era. In completing this goal, I hope to bring knowledge to those interested by providing detailed pictures and accurate descriptions. A great deal of numismatic history remains to be explored by those unfamiliar, and what better way to learn than by looking at a selection of handpicked specimens?

This set won the NGC Registry "Most Informative Custom Set" award in 2020. I am deeply humbled by NGC’s generosity, and this award, paired with the kind words from the NGC judges, means a great deal to me.

Notes from the judges:

As the owner of this set explains, its title is taken from a line in the musical Hamilton that is uttered by Britain’s King George III to the newly independent America. In fact, the introductory text to this set makes for such fascinating reading that it’s easy to forget about the coins. These comprise a broad assortment of the copper pieces struck for George III at Matthew Boulton’s Soho Mint from 1788 to 1813. Each piece is nicely illustrated and accompanied by very detailed text about its technical details, as well as its historical context. This is a truly superb presentation.

Slot Name
Origin/Country
Item Description
Full Grade
Owner Comments
Pics
View Coin 1788 G. Britain ½ Penny Copper Pattern P-945 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1788 G.britain P-945 COPPER PATTERN Skinner Collection NGC PF 50 BN This is one of the numerous pattern halfpennies designed by Jean Pierre Droz struck at the Soho Mint. Peck lists this coin as an early Soho strike. It is listed as very rare.

Obverse: Depicts George III’s undraped bust facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves and three berries. The signature D.F. is absent from the truncation of the shoulder. A noticeable flaw occurs at the bottom edge of the coin under the shoulder protruding from the narrow wire rim with a toothed border. The obverse legend as follows: GEORGIUS III ◊ D ◊ G ◊ REX ◊ (even spacing).
Reverse: The reverse depicts Britannia seated to the left on a globe. Her left leg is drawn back, and she adorned in a long flowing robe with a hem patterned with leaves and berries. The pattern on the hem is one of the key diagnostics to use when trying to distinguish between the numerous "early" and "late" Soho pieces and the "restrikes". The image to the left demonstrates this point in detail. Her right hand is raised and holds a spear. Her left side is occupied by an oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored). Her left-hand holds a wreath and is rested upon the shield. The letter “D” and two clusters of leaves and flowers are detailed left of the shield. A ship's rudder and a crossed palm branch are in exergue. The reverse legend as follows: BRITANNIA ◊ 1788 ◊ (even spacing).

Edge: In raised letters: | RENDER | TO CESAR | THE THIN|GS WHICH | ARE CE|SARS: followed by two trefoils and a flower.

Notes: This is the coin that got me interested in collecting British pattern pieces. Although it has been circulated and as such as an impaired proof, it just exudes character. It also helps attest to the trying early times of the Soho Mint and the extreme copper shortage of England at the time. Both the obverse and reverse retain a fair amount of detail, and despite several scattered contact marks, the coin has deep rich brown reflective fields. By far, one of my favorite pieces in my entire collection. Currently, the only certified example at either NGC or PCGS.
View Coin 1788 G. Britain ½ Penny Gilt Pattern P-965 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1788 G.britain P-965 GILT PATTERN NGC PF 35 This is an example of a gilt pattern halfpenny designed by Droz and struck at the Soho Mint. Peck lists this coin as a late Soho strike. Peck notes that the British Museum acquired serval pieces from the Roberts and Banks collection in 1810 and 1818, and as such, these pieces could not have a product of Taylor in the 1850s. Numerous rust spots, weak areas, and little to no evidence of transitional die wearing indicate this coin is likely struck using repolished dies after what was likely years of improper storage. Peck notes that numerous pieces were struck, and he examined more than 70 examples. Making this one of the more common gilt strikings of the series. Previous auction records seem to collaborate with the availability of this piece. They are listed as very scarce.

Obverse: Depicts the undraped bust of George III facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves and two berries tied behind the neck with a riband. The hair terminates in 3 large curls, with each forming a half-circle. A curl is on the right shoulder. The tip of the bust is weak and lacks relief, and the tips of the front two leaves above the brow and stop after REX are weakly struck. Obverse legend as follows: GEORGIUS III ◊ D ◊ G ◊ REX ◊ (even spacing).

Reverse: The reverse depicts Britannia seated to the left on a globe. Her left leg is drawn back, and she adorned in a long flowing robe with a hem patterned with leaves and berries. Her right hand is raised and holds a spear. Her left side is occupied by an oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored). Her left-hand holds a wreath and is rested upon the shield. The letter “D” and two clusters of leaves and flowers are detailed left of the shield. A ship's rudder and a crossed palm branch are in exergue. The reverse legend as follows: BRITANNIA ◊ 1788 ◊ (even spacing).

Edge: In raised letters: | RENDER | TO CESAR | THE THIN|GS WHICH | ARE CE|SARS: followed by two trefoils and a flower.

Notes: This was the second example of a Droz pattern piece had I purchased, and although I much enjoy this coin, it is an example of why one should always buy the book before the coin. Had I known beforehand that this particular variety was relatively common among the series, I may have opted to hold out for an uncirculated example. Nonetheless, I do find the coin to have an undeniable character. Although impaired, the fields are reflective, and a good deal of gilt remains. The areas where the gilt has worn off further attests to the desperate need for circulating copper in Britain. This is a gilt piece that would have been stunning when first struck, and yet the demand outweighed the beauty, and this piece found its way into circulation. This is currently the only PF-35 example graded at NGC, but there are eight more in higher grades at NGC alone, with another three graded higher examples at PCGS.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Gilt Proof 2 Pence P-1073 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 2P 1797 SOHO G.britain P-1073 GILT RESTRIKE NGC PF Details Although erroneously listed as a “restrike” on the label, Peck lists this coin as a late Soho piece. Remember, the term late Soho refers to a coin struck at the Soho Mint likely after the date on the coin. A restrike, according to Peck, refers to a coin struck much later by Taylor after he purchased the dies from the Soho Mint in the 1850s. Peck had enough data to suggest that this coin was struck at Soho and, therefore, should have been denoted at a gilt proof and not a “Restrike”. Oddly enough, this coin was purchased in an old NCS holder with a details grade for being “Plated”. It seems as though at the time NGC or NCS did not notice this was, in fact, a gilt proof and instead proceeded to treat it as a currency strike, hence the details grade for being “Plated”. NGC handled the situation very well, and they were able to confirm the appropriate variety designation. As always, NGC's customer service was top notch. It is listed as very rare.

Obverse:An image of the 1797 Soho Gilt Proof 2 pence obverse die cracksThe obverse portrays the draped bust of George III facing right. The wreath has ten leaves and four berries of equal size, which is tied with a riband of 2 loops and loose ends. A small forked hair curl overlaps the front leaf above the brow. There is a curl on each shoulder, and the majority of the hair hangs in curls behind the neck. A brooch of 6 jewels catches and holds the drapery. Please make a note of the “K” indicating Kuchler’s initial on the lowest fold of the drapery. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. Is contained within the sizeable broad rim. The stop after GEORGIUS and REX are blocked (i.e., they appear to be filled and have no depth compared to the stop after G). A large and very apparent die crack occurs along the base of G · REX. On most examples of this type but the die crack starts at D: to form a much larger die crack. When looking at these coins in hand and comparing them to an earlier strike of the same dies (i.e., P-1067-1069), you will notice that many areas are noticeably missing details. These areas are described as being “lapped” by Peck, which refers to the polishing of the die. As the die is polished, specific details may be lost.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated left. Her right arm is extended to the left, holding an olive branch with 11 leaves, all of which are attached. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand. An oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. Below Britannia, there are three rows of waves. Under the right side of the shield is a rock with SOHO. In raised letters (note the stop after Soho). The most extreme wave-crest on the right points to the first “O” in Soho. There is a small amount of sea visible to the right of Britannia. The three-masted warship bears a Union flag. The legend BRITANNIA. occurs within a sizeable broad rim. The date 1797 appears at the bottom of the coin. The stop after Britannia is clogged up. A considerable protruding die crack begins at N and continues through NIA nearly to the sea level. Another die crack starts shortly after and extends through the date and ends about midway through the sea in front of Britannia.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY


Edge: Plain

Notes: Gilt proof 2 pence coins do not come to auction very often, and when they do, they typically are in gem condition and demand premium prices. I never thought I would be able to add an example to my collection due to a limited budget, but this coin was a shocking feat! I purchased this coin during one of my late-night internet strolls through eBay listings. The pictures were blurry, and it was hard for me to discern any details about the coin. I did notice that there were three rows of waves, and this was my first clue that is was a proof striking and not a currency strike. In the end, it turned out to be a gamble that paid off because I was able to add an otherwise out of reach coin to the collection for much less than I am willing to admit (it was an auction listing, not a buy it now). This has quickly become one of my favorite pieces. There is just something cool about holding a massive chunk of copper from 1797 that circulated but was only meant to be a presentation piece. Not to mention, it is a success story that I can tell to aspiring numismatists to help encourage them to pursue this excellent hobby! This may be the only graded example at either NGC or PCGS in either details or straight grade.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain 2 Pence P-1077 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 2P 1797SOHO G.britain NGC MS 63 BN The 1797 Twopence is one of the most iconic British copper coins that ever circulated. Beyond these monsters' impressive size and weight, they depict a significant period in the Soho Mint's history. As noted in the set write-up, these coins nearly destroyed the machinery at the Soho Mint and, to some extent, reshaped the way Boulton approached the minting of future contracts. The issues presented even gave rise to the second Soho Mint. To truly appreciate these coins, you must first be able to hold one in your hands. These things were over 40 mm wide, 5 mm thick, and weighed two ounces. Just imagine carrying a sack full of these to the grocery store! There is little wonder why they not immediately popular in commerce but enjoy a coveted spot among British copper collectors. Nice uncirculated examples can be found with some ease, but more often than not, they are marred with significant contact marks, rim bumps, uneven color, and weak strikes. In my experience, it is easy enough to find an example that excels in one of these areas but usually falls short in others. I would suggest being selective, but be aware that premium coins in the 63, 64, or 65 range will command intense premiums. Because of this, the past selling prices for mediocre examples can be safely disregarded. In other words, premium examples tend to draw a lot of attention and a lot of bids. Be prepared to get into a bidding war. Currency strike twopence are listed by peck as scarce.

Obverse: obverse portrays the draped bust of George III facing right. The wreath has ten leaves and four berries of equal size tied with a riband of 2 loops and one loose end. A small forked hair curl faintly overlaps the front leaf above the brow. There is a curl on each shoulder, and the majority of the hair hangs in curls behind the neck. A brooch of 6 jewels catches and holds the drapery. Please make a note of the "K" indicating Kuchler's initial followed by ·: on the lowest fold of the drapery. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. is contained within the sizeable broad rim. This particular example is free of any significant die cracks, and the legend stops included are all free of obstructions. This example is remarkably free of distracting contact marks, and beyond a minor edge bump at seven, the obverse is pristine.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated left. Her right arm is extended to the left, holding an olive branch with 11 leaves, all attached. The bottom leaf is noticeably thicker, and nearly appears doubled. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand. An oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. Below Britannia, there are two rows of waves. Under the right side of the shield is a rock with SOHO. In raised letters (note there is no stop after Soho). The most extreme wave-crest on the right points to the "H" in Soho. The three-masted warship bears a Union flag at the stern and a smaller indistinguishable flag at the bow. The legend BRITANNIA. occurs within a sizeable broad rim, with the date "1797" appearing at the bottom. A large cud appears at the base of the "9" and the second "7" of the date. A faint but noticeable die crack bisects the nine and travels through the seven continuing in the middle of the rim until ending almost level with the top of the smaller rocks behind Britannia. Like the obverse, this side of the coin is free of any major contact marks.

Edge: Plain

Notes: I have viewed hundreds of these coins in mint state (both graded and raw) over the years, and more often than not, they are marred with significant contact marks, rim bumps, uneven color, and weak strikes. In my experience, it is easy enough to find an example that excels in one of these areas but usually falls short in others. I took my time to find an example with minimal contact marks/rim bumps, even color, and a solid strike. This is one of the nicest Twopence pieces that I have come across. There are a handful of minor contact marks on the obverse (e.g., on his throat, in the field in front of his drapery, on the rim between the "E" and "X"), none of which are distracting on a relatively heavy 40mm coin. The color and strike are sublime for the series, and except for an insignificant rim bump at 7 o'clock, the edges are smooth as can be. Looking over the NGC census, the average uncirculated grade for this series is MS-63 (42 in this grade; 11 at PCGS), but in my opinion, there isn't anything ordinary about this particular example. I think this coin would be a premium example in a 64 holder (24 in this grade; 6 at PCGS), and I thought it had a strong chance at a 65 (only 3 with none higher; 1 at PCGS ditto). I may disagree with the number on the label, but I am proud to have this coin in my collection. Although not denoted with a separate variety number by Peck, this piece has equal sized berries on the obverse wreath, which more scarce than the variation with the smaller lower berry.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Penny Bronzed Pattern P-1100 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797 G.britain P-1100 BRONZED PATTERN NGC PROOF Details I had the opportunity to pick this example up for what I think was an extremely reasonable price, which is likely due to the “Bent” designation assigned by NGC. The seller noted that the “bend” was very subtle and almost undetectable. I did not put much stock into their explanation, but once I had the coin in hand, I indeed was unable to detect any curvature whatsoever. I assume the only way to detect it would be to remove it from the holder and place it on a flat surface. Peck notes that this piece is a late Soho Strike and is extremely rare. I am delighted that I was able to locate an affordable example of this variety for my collection.

Obverse: This example portrays a type 3 bust, which according to Peck (1964), depicts a large undraped bust facing right. This bust is a notable deviation from the bust depicted on the business strikes; however, a wreath of 10 leaves and five berries is still contained within the hair and is tied behind the neck with two ribands. The hair falls on both sides of the shoulder as well as below the bust. The curls are much longer than those on the business strikes, and the general appearance of curvature of the bust is much more pronounced. There is also a distinct hook-like hair curl that extends beyond the larger curls behind the neck. This obverse design almost seems to depict a younger king and the upper parts of the hair, and the lowest curl of hair nearly touches the broad rims. A large “K” followed by three dots in a triangular shape is on the lowest portion of the truncation. This particular coin is a late Soho strike, which is evident by the numerous rust spots throughout the fields and the primary devices. These are most notable on the face, neck, and rim. The broad raised rims contain the legend “GEORGIUS III ● D:G ● REX.” The top and bottom portions of the “D” are stopped up as well as the lower portion of the “G” in D:G is stopped up. The letters in the legend are substantially larger than those typically encountered on the business strikes. This particular example has a very appealing blue tone in the fields and around the primary devices. I am particularly fond of this type of toning, and I find this to be an extremely attractive piece.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: Peck (1964) classifies this as a Type B reverse, which depicts a helmeted Britannia facing left seated on a globe. This is a notable difference from the design employed on the business strikes, and in my opinion, is a significant improvement. Britannia is depicted wearing a plumed helmet with a striated fin. She is seated on a globe amongst waves facing left wearing drapery that clings close to her body. Her left breast is uncovered by the drapery and is exposed. Her right arm is extended, holding a trident. Her left arm rests on an oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) on her left side. A large “K.” occurs just below the left bottom half of the shield. Her hand clasps an olive branch of 16 leaves and no berries. This particular example shows re-punching of the berries. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg, and another almost obliterated ship occurs in the sea behind her. The date “1797” occurs in exergue below the main bust. All of this is contained within a broad raised rim, which is adorned by several floral decorations. The incuse legend “BRITANNIA.” occurs at the top between two small floral designs. Opposite of the legend, two olive branches tied by a riband are depicted. Peck (1964) notes that the mintmark SOHO occurs incuse within the loop of the two ribands. Much like the obverse, the reverse has a beautiful blue patina that cumulates in the fields and washes against the primary devices.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is an example of an extremely rare pattern piece that would have been very difficult to acquire under normal circumstances. The neon blue toning that occurs on both sides makes this a very appealing coin in my opinion and matches nicely with similarly toned coins in my collection. In so far as I can tell, this is the only example at either NGC or PCGS. Usually I would avoid a “details” coin, but in this case, the damage is not apparent, and the rarity and the relative price was just right to make this purchase too good to pass up. I enjoy the obverse and reverse designs of this variety, and I hope that I can add others to my collection as they become available.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Contemporary Counterfeit Penny P-1110 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797SOHO G.britain P-1110 "LIGHT PENNY" CONTEMPORARY COUNTERFEIT NGC VF 20 BN The question that probably comes to mind is how Boulton would be able to produce a copper coinage for England that would suffice the public need, curb counterfeiting and do so in an efficient and timely manner. His answer to this question was the application of steam power to the minting process. This would allow coins to be struck at a quicker rate while also holding the quality of the strike consistent. Furthermore, through a business relationship (albeit a bleak one) with Jean Pierre Droz, Boulton proposed a method of manufacturing that would produce a perfectly round coin of constant weight and thickness with edge lettering to dissuade further counterfeiting (Peck, 1964; Doty, 1998, Selgin, 2011). In the process of lobbying the Lords of the Committee on Coin, Boulton boasted that these security features would make it nearly impossible to counterfeit his coins, and this naturally became a major selling point for him. By all accounts, he took great pride in this claim.

These adaptations would be a viable solution in theory but not so much in practice. The issue is that the edge lettering was a new and challenging process that relied almost entirely upon Droz, who was unreliable and ultimately turned out to be a giant disappointment for Boulton. By the time Boulton received a contract to produce regal copper coinage for England on March 3rd, 1797, Droz was far removed, and no significant progress had been made on the edge lettering apparatus (Doty, 1998). To further complicate matters, the contract was to strike Pence and Two Pence pieces and not Halfpennies with which the edge lettering was initially applied. The Pence and Twopence pieces were huge, weighing an ounce and two ounces respectively, and nearly wrecked the Soho Mint to produce. Despite the difficulties, Boulton managed to stay faithful to the terms of his contract and fulfilled it in full within the allotted time. It is my opinion that this would not have been possible had Boulton tried to add the edge lettering to the coins. I suspect this would have placed extra stress on an already struggling system resulting in inevitable catastrophe.

Despite the lack of edge lettering, the new Pence and Twopence pieces did have some features that would deter counterfeiting. For one, the coins were well made and were noticeably larger than any other circulating regal piece at the time. Their expansiveness allowed for the possibility of wide raised rims which contained the incuse legend. The large raised rims would help protect the primary devices from excessive wear, and the incuse legend assured it would survive long after the raised rims wore down. All of this is to say that for counterfeits to pass, they too would have to be much higher quality, and this would likely translate into less profit for the counterfeiters. Although not the intent of Boulton, there was another factor that protected at least the Twopence pieces. As it turns out, the general public was not very fond of them (Selgin, 2011). They are enormous and heavy (i.e., 41 mm and 2 ounces), and needless to say, they were too bulky to carry around in any quantity. Because of this, they tended to build up in storekeeper’s drawers, but the storekeepers had no real way of exchanging them for paper money or silver. All of these factors made them unpopular and therefore were less susceptible to counterfeiting. Below is an example of a proof 1797 Penny struck from repolished current dies (I realize now that I need to take new pictures with different lighting).

The Pennies were also rather large and heavy (i.e., 36 mm and an ounce), but they were better received than their larger counterparts. This made for an ideal target for counterfeiters. As it turns out, the large raised rims, incuse legend, and high quality did not prove sufficient enough to curb counterfeiting. Individuals could collect genuine examples, melt them down, and make lightweight pieces. The excess copper from this process would yield substantial profit. Although this never became a widespread problem, it was nonetheless a direct contradiction to Boulton’s claim, and he had a vested interest in curbing the issue. Most notably, he wished to secure future contracts to strike regal English copper, and this counterfeit issue could prove a considerable hindrance. Boulton was so concerned that he announced a 100 guinea payment for actionable information about the counterfeiters. As detailed by numerous sources, this led to a man named William Phillips to come forward with information about three counterfeiting outfits located in none other than Birmingham (Dickerson, 1936; Peck, 1964; Selgin, 2011). Boulton acted on this information, which eventually leads to numerous arrests, including that of William Phillips, who was also involved in the counterfeiting operation.

Although some of the earlier pieces were poor quality casts that were easily identified, as time went on, the counterfeits became quite sophisticated. As noted by Clay and Tungate (2009) and further substantiated by Selgin (2011), the shallow designs proved to be much easier to reproduce than Boulton thought. Soon counterfeiters were engraving their dies that were close replications of the actual products despite the use of hand-operated presses. For those of you interested, Dickerson (1936) gives a full unabridged replication of the letter Boulton sent to the Lords of the Committee on Coin, which details the simultaneous raid on three separate counterfeiting facilities. However, so far, the focus of the counterfeits discussed were products created from fake dies. Peck (1964) notes that some counterfeits were produced using genuine dies that were stolen from the Soho Mint. He makes this argument based on the die diagnostics of the pieces he observed, and I have full confidence in his conclusions; however, I have had no luck finding additional information on this topic. He even mentions that the origin of these struck counterfeits using genuine dies remains a mystery. An odd discrepancy to this point comes from Doty (1998), who points out on page 319 that the working dies for the Pence and Two Pence pieces were destroyed under the supervision of a Royal Mint official on July 26th, 1799. Of course, this does not preclude the possibility the dies were stolen before being destroyed. I have no answers to this problem, but I plan to continue digging. Peck (1964) mentions that the pieces were struck on a light planchet that was roughly 1 mm thinner than usual (i.e., 2 mm instead of 3 mm) and weighed substantially less (i.e., about 19 grams compared to a full ounce). The weight alone is enough to give these coins away; however, the next biggest clue can be found within the legends which run into the rims. As noted, the genuine coins were designed to prevent this from happening.

The struck pieces using the genuine Soho dies (i.e., Peck-1110) are rather good, and I imagine these readily passed as currency at the time. An example of one of these pieces from my collection is pictured above. To take this one step further, I also would not be surprised if these fooled some collectors who assumed they were well-circulated genuine examples.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain 10 Leaves Obverse Penny P-1132 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO G.britain 10 Leaves Obv. Skinner Collection NGC AU 58 BN This is an example of a 1797 currency strike penny struck at the Soho Mint. This is by no means a rare coin and of the two currency types, the ten leaves obverse and the 11 leaves obverse, this is by far the most common. For those of you interested in getting your collection started, the 1797 10 leaves penny is a real bargain for the series. These coins are relatively large and often can be found with beautiful, even brown color. If looking at these coins raw, be sure to find an example that is free of rim bumps.

Given that these coins are large and heavy, the rim was often damaged during average circulation. The broad raised rim slightly protects the fields, but it can be challenging to find nice examples with clean fields and undamaged rims. To any extent, these can be picked up for a reasonable price in low mint state grades (i.e., Ms-61, 62, or 63). Certified examples often come up for auction and can be real bargains at times, so be patient and seek an example you find the most appealing. Listed as common.

Obverse: This example is a type 4 obverse which with a small bust of George III facing right. George has a wreath of 10 leaves and two berries, which is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. The upper loose end points downward. The hair falls in curls behind the neck and on the left shoulder. A brooch of 8 jewels holds the drapery in place on his right shoulder. Kuchler’s initial appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, followed by three dots in various positions. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. is contained within a sizeable, broad rim. The obverse of this coin shows several contact marks, but the rims and fields are relatively clean for a circulated example of this heavy copper coin.

Reverse: This is a reverse type C, which is described by Peck as Britannia seated on a rock with large letters. Britannia is sitting on a rock amongst waves facing left wearing drapery that clings close to her body. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with ten leaves and no berries. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand. An oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. The legend BRITANNIA. occurs within a large, broad rim. The date 1797 appears at the bottom of the coin. This particular example has a prevalent die crack that starts just after the last “A” in Britannia and extends about halfway down through the field toward the shield behind her. Another die crack begins at her left hand and continues through her leg to the foremast of the ship. This last die crack is rather severe and looking at the coin from an angle, you can see a noticeable ridge is formed, such that the metal above the break toward Britannia is raised higher than the metal below the crack that occurs toward the date.
UNUSUALLY LARGE REVERSE DIE BREAK

Edge: Plain

Notes: As I said before, this is a reasonably common coin, but the vibrant cholate brown fields combined with the otherwise crisp details of the devices give this coin exceptional eye appeal. The fields are relatively clean, and the rims are free of any distracting dings. This coin is notable because of the eye appeal, but the die crack on the reverse makes this coin somewhat unique. Boulton was nothing shy of obsessed with the quality of the coins he produced. This was likely even heightened because of the pride he took in striking coins for his native England. To find a coin with such a glaring mint error is notable. I am not much of a mint error collector, but this one seems to fit perfectly in this collection. There are currently 18 in AU-58 and 121 in higher grades.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Proof Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1246 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO G.britain P-1246 BRONZED PATTERN NGC PF 64 BN Acquiring this coin was somewhat of a battle. The seller and I went back and forth on the price for weeks until we finally agreed on terms that worked for both of us. I ended up purchasing this coin for an extremely reasonable price. This near gem example is stunning in hand. Except for the obverse carbon spots, this near gem is exactly what you would want on a 220-year-old proof coin. Peck lists this coin as scarce, which seems reasonable. As of 10-26-19, there are currently five graded at NGC (i.e., two at PF-63 and three at PF-64). There are currently none at PCGS.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right with the typical wreath of 11 leaves and three berries. The wreath is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. A K followed by a single dot (i.e., K.) appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, which is caught by a clasp of 6 square jewels that form a perfect curve. Peck also notes that small rust spots appear on the cheek and near the lower lip. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). A significant flaw occurs from the rim to the through the “G” in GEORGIUS. This particular example has a few noticeable carbon spots, but these do not overly overshadow the eye appeal of this piece.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY


Reverse:
Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 14 leaves and no berries. A significant flaw (i.e., raised lump of metal) is noticeable under her right armpit. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Peck notes that the ship has a large flag affixed to the poop (i.e., the raised deck that occurs above the main deck) and that a raised line appears along the length of the hull. Three raised dots appear in a triangle shape on the rock to the right of the shield. The date “1799” occurs just under the curved sea with the “1” just barely touching the sea. The reverse of this coin is spectacular and full of intricate details. The shield almost looks convex, and the waves and lines of the drapery are noticeably more detailed. Even the hair on Britannia’s head shows detail. The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA with the date appearing at the bottom of the coin just under the primary device. Peck notes that a distinct flaw occurs under “99” of the date. This flaw almost looks like a time raised ramp that starts in the field and raises slightly toward the rim. He notes that this flaw is roughly 7mm long.

Edge: Obliquely grained

Notes: The attention to detail and quality one would expect from the Soho mint is on full display with this coin. Individual branching leaf veins and fine whisker details can be easily seen with the naked eye when examining this coin in hand. Currently tied for the finest graded, this near gem example is nothing short of amazing.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain ½ Penny P-1248 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1799SOHO G.britain NGC MS 66 RB The 1799 halfpenny currency strikes come up for sale very often, and exceptional examples can be had for relatively little. This would make for an excellent starting point for a new collector of English copper. Given the abundance of these coins, I would urge the buyer to hold out for an example that speaks to their set goals. The current example retains a great deal of original red luster, and the fields are clean of any significant marks. This coin is listed as Very Common. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that over 42 million were minted. This particular example is stellar in many regards, which I detail in the ‘notes” section.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 11 leaves and three berries rest on his head and is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. A single dot (.) appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, caught by a clasp of 6 square jewels. Peck notes that the position of the folds and dot varies with different working dies. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). The obverse fields are slightly reflective, and the legend is mostly well-struck, excluding the “smeared” lettering of “ATIA” in “GRATIA”. This is typical for the type and is not something that should dissuade collectors from picking up an otherwise gem example.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 14 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her grasp of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship with five incuse gunports appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Three raised dots appear in a triangle shape on the rock to the right of the shield. The date “1799” occurs just under the curved sea with the “1” entirely separated from the sea. The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA with the date appearing at the bottom of the coin just under the primary device. The letters “IA” in “BRITANNIA” are slightly smeared. This odd effect is expected for business strike examples, as is the “wavy” area under Britannia’s arm. The reserve of this example is mostly red, with hints of reflectivity in the fields.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This is one of the most well-preserved examples that I have come across. It looks as though it was taken off the presses and carefully placed in someone’s collection. The fact that it has retained so much of its original red color over the last 221 years is impressive. The slightly reflective fields contrast nicely with the primary devices and make for a pleasing experience when viewing this coin under a light. To make matters more interesting, this coin is housed in an old NGC soapbox holder, which makes me confident that its color is stable. I have a dozen or so of these coins in my collection, and this is my favorite of the lot. As noted by Peck, there are several different variations of the business strike examples. Although not mentioned on the label, this is P-1248, which is distinguished by the five incuse gunports. Given that the variety is not listed on the holder, I have opted to provide census data for those that mark the variety and those that do not. NGC has graded 4 1799 ½ pennies in MS-66 RB (no variety listed) with none higher (they have also graded 2 in MS-66 RD!!!). When the specific variety is noted, NGC has graded 4 in MS-65 RB (no reds), and PCGS has graded 4 MS-65 RB (3 MS-64 RD). Essentially, this coin is a top pop in terms of technical grade across the board; however, it would be a top pop in all senses of the term if the variety were listed on the label.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain 1/2 Penny Strike Through Mint Error Great Britain 1/2P 1799SOHO G.BRITAIN OBVERSE AND REVERSE STRUCK THRU NGC MINT ERROR As I previously noted, the 1799 halfpenny currency strikes are Very Common. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that over 42 million were minted. That said, I have not seen many with notable mint errors such as the coin pictured. Although it is far from the primary focus of this set, coins like this do have a place in the broader context of the Soho Mint.

Obverse: the following description would apply to a non-error coin of this type. The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 11 leaves and three berries rest on his head and is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. A single dot (.) appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, caught by a clasp of 6 square jewels. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing).

The nature of this mint error only leaves the top remnants of the legend visible, but you can still see traces of the bottom portion when carefully inspecting the coin under a light. The King’s portrait is also heavily impacted by the error, with most of the fine details absent or faint.

Reverse: the following description would apply to a non-error coin of this type. Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 14 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her grasp of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3-masted warship with five incuse gunports appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Three raised dots appear in a triangle shape on the rock to the right of the shield. The date “1799” occurs just under the curved sea with the “1” entirely separated from the sea. The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA with the date appearing at the bottom of the coin just under the primary device.

The reverse legend and main device are impacted similarly to their counterparts on the obverse. Interestingly, the “wavy” area under Britannia’s arm that is typically found on currency strikes is still present.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I am not an expert in error coins, but I find it interesting that the coin has the same strikethrough characteristics on both sides of the coin. One can only wonder what exactly it was struck through. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of mystery with their coins?
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Copper Proof Farthing P-1278 Ex. Boulton Collection With Shells Great Britain FARTH 1799 G.BRITAIN Ex. Boulton NGC PF 63 BN It is interesting to note that although Boulton was not a coin collector in the traditional sense, his family amassed a rather large selection of Soho pieces even after his death in 1809. Of course, this was likely the byproduct of Watt Jr’s attempt to build an entire set of Soho wares for his personal collection – as it turns out he was the only true collector of the entire lot of people associated with the running of the Soho Mint. It is a bit of speculation, but I imagine the efforts of Watt Jr. resulted in duplicates that were then passed along to the Boulton family. This particular example must have been one of those duplicates and as such its pedigree can be traced back over two centuries to the Boulton Family. As an added bonus, it has retained the original shells that have housed it since its production. This variety is listed as Very Scarce.



Obverse:The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 10 leaves rest on his head and is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and one loose ends. Within the wreath are three round berries, all of which are heavily double cut. Most of his hair flows down behind in large tight curls. Presumably, the repolishing of a current die to strike this proof example leaves the curls on his shoulder and back somewhat indistinct from his draped shoulder in multiple places. One very large and distinct curl protrudes from near the top of the ribbon tie and extends beside his neck nearly to the top of the drapery. A very small dot appears on the lowest fold of the drapery. The drapery is caught by a brooch of 6 decently well shaped round jewels (the top jewel is distinguishable) on the right shoulder. Peck notes that all but the lowest of which is noticeably double cut. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). The date “1799” occurs just below the bust.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 7 leaves and no berries. The original die before it was repolished undoubtedly had eight berries, but one was removed during the process. Likewise, 4 of olive-leaves are detached from the stem due to the same process. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Unlike the other Farthings of this date, the main sail of the ship appears as a large blob. The rest of the discernable rigging is also slightly different, but it is nuanced to discuss here. The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA. The lower portion of the right limb of the letter “A” is slightly defective with a noticeable from its outermost edge. The denomination "1 Farthing" occurs just below the curved ground and is sandwiched between a quatrefoil on each side.

Edge: Grained or obliquely striated

Notes: This is the first purchase I ever made from my friend Bill McKivor. He and I spent a good deal of time discussing the Soho Mint until he passed away in 2021. This piece holds a special sentimental place in my collection, which is only confounded how spectacularly amazing it is in hand. Although not designated as such, both the obverse and reverse have a soft cameo set apart from the rich even milk chocolate color of the fields. Although I believe it is conservatively graded, the pedigree paired with the fact that it has retained its original shells over the last two centuries sets this example in a league of its own. I was fortunate enough to work with NGC to get the coin and shells encapsulated together in a single multi-coin holder, which ensures that the unique history of the shells is in less danger of being lost. This is currently the only graded example of this variety at NGC and none at PCGS.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Restrike Farthing P-1281 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1799 G.britain P-1281 COPPER NGC PF 64 BN The business strike 1799 farthing come up for sale with some frequency; however, the proofs and proof restrikes come up for sale very infrequently. I am comfortable with attributing, purchasing, and grading raw proof examples of almost all other English Soho pieces from this period from internet pictures, but the farthings I have always found to be complicated. Luckily, this one was already certified, so it was pretty cut and dry. Had it not been certified, the plain edge paired with the “grainy” appearance of the primary devices that invariably accompanies bronzed pieces would have been a dead giveaway. There are only a handful of 1799 farthings with a plain edge, and only two of which are bronzed (P-1281 and 1285). The lack of a dot on the lowest fold of the drapery would have also been a useful diagnostic as all of the business strikes have the dot. You’ll probably note that the title says “Skinner Collection,” but I purchased the coin already graded. This coin was listed as its much more common “bronzed” non-restrike counterpart. This variety is substantially more scarce than what it was listed as. I am in the process of resubmitting to NGC for the proper variety attribution. Given that my knowledge is what lead me to this purchase, I see it only fair to add my pedigree to the holder. This coin is listed as Very Scarce.

Obverse:The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 10 leaves rest on his head and is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and one loose ends. There is no dot on the lowest fold of the drapery. The drapery is caught by a brooch of 6 irregularly and unevenly shaped jewels (the top jewel is barely distinguishable) on the right shoulder. Peck notes that several strands of hair have been added on the back of the neck between the tie-knot and the drapery. These strands of hair look finely hatched lines protruding down from his hair in the knot. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). Peck notes that the legend has been touched up and several letters have been overcut and show doubling. This is very apparent on the “T” and both “A”s in GRATIA. I should also note that the rims of this coin are distinct in that they have been filed. These filing marks are apparent without magnification and give the coin an extra “pop” that adds to the intricate details already on display. The date “1799” occurs just below the bust.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 8 leaves and no berries. The reverse die used was rather deteriorated and so only 6 leaves are discernable, all of which are detached. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Again, the state of the die was rough, and a patch of the sea is plain devoid of detail which was likely due to over-polishing. Similar evidence can be found on the lowest fold of her drapery and around the blunt end of the trident. A single raised dot appears on the rock to the right of the shield. The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA. The denomination "1 Farthing" occurs just below the curved ground and is sandwhiched between a quatrefoil on each side. Like the obverse, the rims have been filed, and this noticeable without magnification.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: The seller’s images of this coin were not flattering. The holder was very scratched and obscured the view of the reverse. Furthermore, the images were poorly lit and portrayed a very dark and unevenly toned coin. It sold for cheap enough that I could not resist, and I am so happy that I ended up winning the auction. I was immediately blown away by the neon purple and blue toning present throughout the fields on both sides of the coin. The details were immaculate, even for an PF-64 example, and the overall color was a nice even chocolate brown. I had expected to receive an ugly but accurately graded coin in the mail. I had no idea I would receive a beautifully toned near gem example instead. Oddly, this marks the first 1799 proof farthing that I have ever purchased. There currently 2 graded PF-63 at NGC (none higher) and none at PCGS. Once I get the attribution added to the label, this will become the finest graded example at both companies.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1326 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1806SOHO G.britain P-1326 BRONZED PCGS PF 63 Brown Wow, this is a spectacular coin! I had passed on two higher-graded examples of the same type to purchase this coin because I was that impressed with the eye-appeal. The color on this coin is crazy and is parallel only by the 1823 Ireland proof halfpenny I have in my collection. It is a wonder that this coin did not get the cameo designation. I am contemplating sending this one to NGC to see if I can get the coveted star designation. Peck lists this variety as very scarce. As of 10-31-19, there are four graded at NGC. One in 64 and two in 65. Oddly enough, PCGS has not graded any examples with the explicit attribution of P-1326.

Obverse:George III is depicted facing right adorned by a wreath of 11 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of one loop and two ends. A brooch of 9 jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which are superimposed by the letter K followed by a dot (i.e., K.). The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. (evenly spaced). The date ”1806” appears at the bottom of the coin under the bust. Peck notes that the “1” and “0” of the date are imperfect, such that the base of the “1” is missing, and the “0” is unclosed at the top. The color of the obverse is spectacular. The primary device is accented by neon blue toning, which contrasts nicely with the mirrored fields giving off the appearance of a strong cameo effect. The pictures do not do this coin justice.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY


Reverse:
Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 11 leaves and three berries. Several of the leaves are detached from the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong bisects the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. Peck notes that the ship does not have gunports, and three stays occur from the foremast to the bowsprit. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border is as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing). Much like the obverse, the reverse of this coin does not disappoint. The same neon blue toning contrasts nicely against the watery milk chocolate brown fields to create a cameo effect. This coin is just absolutely amazing.

Edge: Obliquely grained

Notes: This has quickly become one of my favorite coins that I own. I can say without a doubt that I would have genuinely regretted not purchasing this coin and going for the higher grade examples. Not to mention, this coin complements the proof Irish halfpenny in my collection. I wish every proof I had in my collection had the same eye appeal and pop that this coin has. This piece has a forever home in my box of 20!
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1328 Ex. Watt Jr. With Shells & Wrapper GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1806SOHO G.britain P-1328 BRONZED Ex. James Watt Jr. NGC PF 65 BN Wow – this coin is spectacular. It was originally housed in an NGC PF-66 BN holder, but it was set free from its tomb before recently getting a fresh NGC holder. I believe this piece is conservatively graded. The obverse and reverse have a pleasant chocolate brown color that sharply contrasts with the slightly frosted main devices. Beyond the aesthetic appeal, this piece has the original silver-lined brass shells, hand inscribed wrapper, and a provenance that spans over two centuries. If that is not enough to catch your attention, you should see the upcoming entry in the corresponding medal set. The reverse die of this piece was used to strike a medal commemorating Princess Victoria’s visit to Soho!


Obverse: George III is depicted facing right adorned by a wreath of 11 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends. A brooch of 10 tightly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which are superimposed by the letter K followed by a dot (i.e., K.). Peck (1970), notes a faint horizontal flow on the largest fold of the drapery. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. (evenly spaced). The date ”1806” is free of flaws and appears at the bottom of the coin under the bust.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive branch with 11 leaves and three berries. All the leaves are attached to the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong bisects the second limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. Peck (1970) notes that the space between the shield and her hand is slightly larger and that two horizontal lines appear under her left hand. These appear to be a continuation of her gown. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3-masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. Peck (1970) notes that the ship does not have gunports, and that the flag at the stern is striated. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border is as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing).

Edge: Grained

Notes: This is a spectacular coin with an impeccable provenance. That alone would suffice my interest, but Peck (1970) adds a little more intrigue. As previously mentioned, the reverse die was used to strike a very important medal in 1830. That event tells us that George III era dies were still in use for special production over ten years after his death. Shockingly, this reverse die was very preserved as there are no notable areas of depreciation in quality on the medal, which suggests a long shelf life for some Soho Mint dies. I plan to provide more information in the write-up for the medal.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Penny P-1342 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1806SOHO G.britain Skinner Collection NGC MS 63 BN Much like the 1799 currency strike halfpennies, the 1806 currency strike pennies are real bargains in the larger realm of milled English copper. These coins come up for auction frequently, and a quick search through eBay should yield several NGC or PCGS certified examples in mint state for sale. These are relatively large (35.5 mm) and heavy coins (approx. 18.87 grams) that are rather impressive in hand. I find it interesting to compare one of these monsters next to a U.S. large cents from around the same era. This would also make the top of the list for new acquisitions for those just starting. This coin is listed as very common.

Obverse:
George III is depicted facing right adorned by a wreath of 11 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of one loop and two ends. A brooch of 9 jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which are superimposed by the letter B followed by a dot (i.e., K.). The jewels on this particular example are weakly struck, and they form what otherwise looks like an unbroken curved line of small bumps. This is typical of the currency strikes as the mass production of these pieces is thought to have antagonized such defects. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. (evenly spaced). The date ”1806” appears at the bottom of the coin under the bust. The obverse of this coin is nothing shy of spectacular. The hints of red luster in the protected areas of the drapery and letters paired with the neon bluish-green toning of the fields make for exceptional eye candy. The bust is boldly struck, and almost appears to pop out toward the viewer. Except for a few barely noticeable contact marks, the fields are clean.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 11 leaves and three berries. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her grasp of which the middle prong points just right of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border reads as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing). Much like the obverse, the reverse of this coin does not disappoint. The exergue and protected areas around the shield retain the red luster. The even vibrant cholate brown color of the primary device contrasts nicely with the neon blue and green tone of the fields. Britannia appears in high relief with an exquisite amount of detail.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I try very hard to purchase eye-appealing coins, and I can say with confidence that is one of the most eye appealing coins in my collection. The rich chocolate brown paired with the protected red luster and neon blueish green tones makes this coin pop. The primary devices on both the obverse and reverse are in high relief and retain an extraordinary amount of detail. It would be effortless for me to “upgrade” this coin for a higher numerical grade, but I feel as though it may be next to impossible to find another example with better eye appeal. Despite the relatively low grade and value of this coin, it proudly resides in my box of 20. There are currently 19 graded in MS-63, with 83 graded higher and a total of 153 at NGC alone.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain 1/2 Penny Copper Proof P-1371 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1806SOHO G.britain P-1371 NGC PF 66 BN I picked this coin up raw from a dealer who was motivated to move what he considered “nuisance” world coins. The dealer is a nice enough guy, and he has a phenomenal selection of early U.S. type coinage but rarely has any world coins to speak of. I happened upon this example for a price that I thought was reasonable and later submitted to NGC for grading. Peck lists this as a scarce late Soho strike, which pairs nicely with its bronzed sister (P-1370) and fellow copper sister (P-1371) already in this collection. Usually, this would be considered an upgrade as my other P-1371 is graded a PF-63, but the other example has retained its original shells. This example, however, is the finest graded example at either NGC or PCGS, so to some extent, both of these examples in my collection are unique in their own ways. To any extent, this is a real gem, and I am proud to have yet another spectacular example in my collection. The detailed information about the obverse and reverse design is simply copied from the preceding example.

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse, and unlike some of its counterparts, his lips are distinctly separated. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two loose ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. A brooch of 8 jewels (the 8th is noticeably smaller than the rest) on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e. a series of lines titled to the left), which is superimposed by “K .” (note the period is spaced from the “K”). The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with ten leaves and three berries. Several leaves are detached from the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just right of the second limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. Peck notes that the ship has very long pennants at the mastheads and incuse gunports. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend BRITANNIA is contained within a thin outer rim and a beaded border (even spacing). There is a double-cut border between the “B” and “R”.

Edge: Grained

Notes: This is a beautiful example with deeply mirrored fields that are a nice, even brown color. The reverse device is very strong and somewhat frosted, giving off a slight cameo appearance. I am a bit surprised this coin did not receive the star designation for the frosted reverse devices. The obverse has the same qualities, but the frosting is a bit stronger. Overall this is an exceptional piece that I am proud to have in my collection.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Restrike Proof ½ Penny P-1379 Double Struck with Obverse Rotation Great Britain 1707-1815 Copper STRIKE 1806 GB 1/2P P-1379 RE D/S W/OBVERSE ROTATION P-1379 NGC MINT ERROR PF 62 BN Let me reiterate the fact that I do not usually collect error coins, but when it comes along that fits both the budget and the set correctly, I see no reason not add it. This is just one of those cases were the coin that happened to fit both came up for sale, and I could not resist. This coin is trippy in hand. Although the reverse looks precisely like what you would expect, the obverse has strong doubling throughout the entire obverse legend. As noted, this is classified as a restrike, which means it was struck by Taylor, who was notorious for creating “variates” that he could sell. Although Peck makes no mention of this particular variety being commonly seen doubled, I cannot help but wonder if this was indeed an error or something that Taylor did intentionally. The evidence seems to suggest that this was indeed an error, as I have not been able to locate another example like it. Peck lists this coin as Very Scarce.

Obverse: A new portrait of George III is depicted on the obverse. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 11 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of one loop and two ends that point down.
A brooch of 8 jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which are superimposed by the letter K but no dot. The jewels on this particular example are hard to discern, but Peck notes that 3rd and 6th jewels are weak and irregular.
Given that this is a much later strike from what was almost certainly a poorly kept die, I do not find the appearance of the jewels surprising on this example. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust. Of course, all of this is severely doubled as well as most of the toothed border. Other than a few carbon spots, this bronzed piece is exceptional and is a much-appreciated part of my collection.

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with ten leaves and three berries. The last leaf is removed from its stalk. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just right of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border and is as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing). There is a double-cut border between the “B” and “R”. The reverse is impressive, the fields are clean and reflective, the device is slightly frosted, and the color is chocolate brown.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is one of the odder pieces in this collection because of the doubling on the obverse. Looking at this coin in hand gives you the illusion of having double vision. This coin was described as “Chocolate brown with attractive highly glossy fields”. I could not agree more with this description. The pictures honestly do not do this coin justice. One needs to hold this coin in hand to get the full effect. This is also one of the coins that have made it my box of 20 only because of how odd it is. This was also the first coin I ever purchased from a large auction house. Given that this is listed as a mint error, I have no way of checking the NGC census to determine how many examples exist like this; however, only one other example is graded by NGC (PF-65), and none at PCGS. I plan to eventually send this coin back to NGC to be regraded as I believe it is under graded.
View Coin 1806 Gilt Proof Farthing P-1387 Ex. Watt Jr. With Shells GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1806 G.britain GILT PATTERN JAMES WATT JR NGC PF 64 ULTRA CAMEO Note the scratches that appear in the pictures are on the slab, not the coin. This will eventually find its way into a new holder.

Up to this point I had resisted adding anything other than impaired gilt specimens to my collection. In part, this is because the gilt specimens often demand stronger prices that I could not justify given their relative market availability. I told myself that I would only stagger from this stance if given the chance to add a truly special gilt piece to my collection. Thanks to the generosity of a like-minded collector, this opportunity came to fruition recently. This particular coin checks several boxes. It has retained its original silver-lined brass shells, its pedigree can be traced over centuries to the Watt Jr. Collection, and it is my first ultra-cameo designated coin in this set. Oh, I should also mention that it is absolutely stunning to view in hand! I am just not sure what else a collector would seek. The Watt Jr. collection appeared at a 2002 London auction. Looking over the catalog, this particular coin either belonged in part to lot numbers 350, 351, 352, or 353. As mind-blowing as it seems today, these lots consisted of date runs for all denominations in bronze and gilt finishes! Peck classifies this variety (P-1387) as a scarce late Soho strike.



Obverse: Peck (1964) classifies this obverse design as portrait one, which is noted by the use of incuse lines to render the hair detail in his whiskers just above the ear. Additionally, the two lowest leaves in the wreath are overlapped by stray hairs. In general, the design is much like that of the Penny and Halfpenny of the same year. King George III is depicted facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The lowest loop of the riband is attached and forms a perfect loop. A brooch of 7 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain, which encloses an incuse letter “K.”. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date “1806” appearing at the bottom below the bust. As one would expect from an ultra-cameo designated piece, this coin exhibits an insane degree of contrast between the main devices and the deep rich gold fields.

Reverse: The reverse design depicts Britannia seated facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Peck (1964) specifically mentions that her hair is waved on top. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive branch with seven leaves and no berries. All of the leaves are attached to the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points to the right side of the middle of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3-masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend BRITANNIA is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border (even spacing).

Edge: Grained

Notes: This piece is a remarkable addition to my growing collection of coins, tokens, and medals that once resided in either the Watt Jr. or Boulton Family collections. It is also a notable deviation from the norm as it stands alone as the only non-impaired gilt proof in my collection. The degree of preservation paired with the unique history of its origin make this a true one-of-a-kind specimen, and I am deeply honored to be its current curator. Without a doubt, this piece has earned a permanent coveted spot in my box of 20. Eventually, I will have this piece placed in a new holder, but for now, I plan to enjoy it as is.
View Coin 1806 Bronzed Proof Farthing P-1388 Ex. Watt Jr. With Shells & Wrapper GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 G.britain JAMES WATT JR NGC PF 66 BN I purchased this coin in 2023 from the collector who sold me the gilt-proof 1806 English Farthing from the Watt Jr. Collection. Much like its gilt counterpart, this coin is an absolute stunner. The unimpeachable two-centuries-old provenance along with the original silver-lined brass shells and hand inscribed wrapper make this a truly special piece. This coin is the epitome of originality and a strong testament to the quality and care exercised by the Soho Mint and James Watt Jr. as a collector.


Obverse: Peck (1964) classifies this obverse design as portrait one, which is noted by the use of incuse lines to render the hair detail in his whiskers just above the ear. Additionally, the two lowest leaves in the wreath are overlapped by stray hairs. In general, the design is much like that of the Penny and Halfpenny of the same year. King George III is depicted facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The lowest loop of the riband is attached and forms a perfect loop. A brooch of 7 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain, which encloses an incuse letter “K.”. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date “1806” appearing at the bottom below the bust. Although not designated as a cameo, this coin exhibits a high degree of contrast between the main devices and the deeply rich brown fields.

Reverse: The reverse design depicts Britannia seated facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Peck (1964) specifically mentions that her hair is waved on top. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive branch with seven leaves and no berries. All of the leaves are attached to the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points to the right side of the middle of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3-masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend BRITANNIA is contained within a thin outer rim and a toothed border (even spacing).

Edge: Grained

Notes: Although the collector that collector I bought these pieces from took very good care of them, it appears the dealer who sold them to her did not provide the same due diligence. The result is a fantastic coin stuck behind marred plastic. I experimented with a few techniques that provided decent enough images, but the scratched holder substantially detracts from the provided photographs. Nonetheless, I am overjoyed to have this coin in my collection. Oddly enough, it appeared as a single-item lot in the 2002 auction. Lot 348 is described as “late Soho bronzed proof farthing, 1806 (B.M.C. 1388), a few marks probably caused in striking, good extremely fine, in shells and inscribed paper wrapper” with a £40-60 estimate. It sold for over double the high estimate at a measly £140. I wish I had a time machine!
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Farthing Bronzed Proof P-1390 Ex Boulton Family Collection Great Britain 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 G.BRITAIN P-1390 BRONZED EX. BOULTON FAMILY NGC PF 65 BN Understandably, Matthew Boulton and his successors were very proud of the Soho Mint and the coins that it struck. I assume this pride paired with a need to move otherwise stale inventory lead to the creation of the tight-fitting silver-brass lined shells that occasionally housed the specimen strikes of numerous coins, tokens, and medals. These specimens were no doubt some of the most spectacularly preserved examples of the pieces struck at the Soho Mint. This particular example is missing the silver-lined brass shells that were likely separated from it after leaving the original Boulton collection. A unique piece of Soho history was lost with those shells, and this is partially why I have worked so diligently to preserve the few pieces in my collection that still retain their shells. Peck classifies this as a very scarce late Soho.

Obverse: Peck (1964) classifies this obverse design as portrait one, which is noted by the use of incuse lines to render the hair detail in his whiskers just above the ear. Additionally, the two lowest leaves in the wreath are overlapped by stray hairs. In general, the design is much like that of the Penny and Halfpenny of the same year. King George III is depicted facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The lowest loop of the riband is detached and does not form a perfect loop and appears more like a deformed fish hook. A brooch of 7 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain, which encloses an incuse letter “K.”. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date “1806” appearing at the bottom below the bust. This is an extremely flashy example of this very scarce variety. The watery brown fields paired with the slightly frosted main device makes for an attractive specimen.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: The reverse design depicts Britannia seated facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Peck (1964) specifically mentions that her hair is un-waved on top. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with seven leaves and no berries. Most of the leaves are detached from the twig (i.e., 5 of the 7). Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points to the right side of the middle of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend BRITANNIA is contained within a thin outer rim and a beaded border (even spacing).
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Grained

Notes: This coin just happened to come up for sale when I had a little extra cash that was otherwise unaccounted for. I paid a slight premium for the pedigree, but I find it so cool that I own a coin that originally belonged to the family that struck the very coins that I am so captivated by. Overall the coin is nicely preserved and displays a beautiful even brown color that one would want to find on a proof copper coin of its age. The holder on this coin is very scratched, and the picture reflects this. At some point, I may send it in to be re-holdered. For now, I will enjoy it as is.
View Coin 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike ½ Penny P-1383 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1807SOHO G.britain P-1383 BRONZED RESTRIKE NGC PF 63 BN Put simply, this is a spectacular coin. Both the obverse and reverse are beautifully toned with cobalt blue and neon green accents that contrast nicely against the watery mahogany brown surfaces. I tried to capture this in my images but failed at every attempt. I am considering paying to have this coin professionally imaged because it is a shame that others are not able to see its eye-popping appeal because of my lackluster photography skills. Peck lists this coin as very scarce, which seems to be a slight underestimate of its scarcity given the general lack of auction records for this piece. As of 10-26-19, there is only one other graded example at NGC (a PF-64) and none at PCGS.

Obverse:
George III is depicted on the obverse. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two loose ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The loops are striated. A brooch of 8 jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The third and sixth jewels are broken off. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left) which is superimposed by the letter K. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust. This coin has some major color! My pictures make it look super dark, but in hand, the entire coin is accented with neon blue and fluorescent green tones.
Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with ten leaves and three berries. The lowest leaf is detached from the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points just right of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. Peck notes that the ship has very small pennants at the mastheads. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a beaded border and is as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing). There is a double-cut border between the “B” and “R”. Except for a slightly unattractive issue with the planchet, this coin is otherwise fantastic. The color from the obverse is fully present.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: This was an unlikely purchase that I made while my wife and I were vacationing in London last summer. As part of my birthday, my wife gave me a day to drag her from coin shop to coin shop while searching for that perfect coin to mark both our trip and my birthday. I had been to four shops already, and none of them had “the coin” I was looking for. I didn’t want to settle for just anything, and I wanted something that built upon my collection as opposed to something that complimented it. My last stop of the day was A.H Baldwin’s. I walked into their shop and was immediately disappointed by their selection until a clerk came over to help me. He told me the “good stuff” is upstairs. Let me buzz you in and call a specialist to assist you. I ended up meeting a gentleman who shared my passion for early milled English and Irish copper, and we spoke in detail for well over an hour. We pulled numerous trays of coins for me to inspect, and this one caught my attention early. He had some spectacular pieces, but this coin was just coming to mind. After exhausting his inventory, I finally decided to purchase this coin, and I am so thankful that I did. Not only does it build upon my collection, but it marks a special moment in an already exceptional trip that I was fortunate enough to share with my wife. This coin will forever remain in my box of 20.
View Coin 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike Farthing P-1403 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1807 G.britain P-1403 NGC PF 63 BN From what I can gather, the 1807 restrikes are more challenging to acquire than Peck’s rarity judgment may suggest. Peck lists this coin as scarce; however, examining auction records of the last ten years from the major auction houses, I have only been able to locate three that have been offered. Except for a few minor differences, the restrikes closely resemble their currency strike predecessors and do not entirely possess the proof qualities one would expect. Peck even notes these as ‘proof’ restrikes for this very reason. As of 10/26/19, this is the only example graded at NGC, and none are recorded at PCGS.

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The loose end closest to his neck disappears into the fold of his drapery. A brooch of 7 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which is superimposed by the letter K which is raised. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust. Numerous rust spots are visible throughout the obverse. The most obvious of which occur behind his head, in front of his forehead, and just below his chin. There is no question that the die used to strike this coin was seriously mishandled before being repolished and used by Taylor.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse:
Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Peck notes that her hair is distinctly divided into two parts. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with nine leaves and no berries. Most of the leaves are detached from the twig. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points to the right side of the middle of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend which is contained within a thin outer rim and a beaded border and is as follows: BRITANNIA (even spacing). Peck also notes that a significant flaw occurs on the rim from 5 to 10 o’clock.

Edge: Plain

Notes: Looking at the pictures may you may not believe this coin is indeed a proof, especially compared to some of the other examples in this collection; however, examining it in hand tells a much different story. The sharply struck details paired with squared rims and reflective fields leaves no room for doubt. I managed to pick this example up for an excellent deal (i.e., roughly 1/3 of the typical selling price), and it straight graded at PF-63 BN with no issues at NGC. Given the relative scarcity of these 1807 restrikes, I would not hesitate to add another addition to my collection should one be offered to me. Not to mention, it is kind of cool to have the only certified example.
View Coin 1823 Argentina Buenos Aires Proof Pattern Decimo ARGENTINA DECIMO 1822 BUENOS AIRES COPPER PATTERN NGC PF 65 BN The next two entries are in stark contrast to most of the pieces in this set for two reasons. First, they were produced well after the death of Matthew Boulton. Second, they represent a notable deviation from the European theme thus far. The coinage for the Province of Buenos Aires originated with a request made in March of 1822 by the Hullett Brothers & Company (Doty, 1998). The original proposal was for two denominations, but only the smaller of the two would come to fruition. The result was a copper coin worth roughly one-tenth of a silver real, which is referred to as a décimo. Matthew Robinson Boulton waited no time preparing the order, and four million décimo pieces were shipped in April of 1823 (Doty, 1998). A second order would see another four million décimo pieces delivered to Buenos Aires by 1825.



Obverse: The obverse design is remarkably similar to the current Argentine national coat-of-arms. It depicts an elliptical shape, the interior of which contains two outstretched hands shaking while holding a pike with a Phrygian cap resting at the tip. The upper half of the elliptical shape is distinguished by horizontal lines that fall behind the pike and cap, which presumably is meant to symbolize the blue sky. A radiating sun appears immediately above the center of the elliptical shape. A wreath of two branches tied together flanks both sides of the elliptical shape but does not completely engulf it. This entire design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse depicts a similar wreath as the one on the reverse, but this time it completely engulfs the entire design. Contained within the wreath is the legend BUENOS AYRES UN DECIMO, which conforms to the curved nature of the wreath. The date, 1822 appears in the center of the reverse but is completely enclosed by the legend. This entire design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain edge

Alignment: Medal

Notes: The current piece is an 1822 copper pattern of the adopted design. Although I have not meticulously studied this piece, I did not note any major differences between it and the currency issue in the next entry. As I continue to study scarce pieces such as this, I have come to recognize an odd pattern. In this case, there was a nearly decade-long lull when only a handful of examples came to market, which was abruptly ended by no less than four examples appearing in less than two years. I have also noticed other instances of this trend with pieces that have fewer than five confirmed examples. I suppose the adage of never knowing what to expect is somewhat true. Nonetheless, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to add this example to my collection without the frustration of waiting years for it to resurface in the market. Although it is somewhat at odds with the bulk of my collection, it signifies a short but important part of Soho's history.
View Coin 1823 Argentina Buenos Aires Decimo ARGENTINA DECIMO 1823 BUENOS AIRES NGC MS 63 BN A second order would see another four million décimo pieces delivered to Buenos Aires by 1825 (Doty, 1998). The eight million coins would prove more than sufficient, and eventually, many of these pieces would be overstruck and reissued. These overstruck pieces can be readily found, but most of them are in well-circulated condition. Likewise, the currency issue pieces that were not overstruck are seldom seen in higher grades, with most falling in the MS-60 to MS-63 range. True gem examples with remaining color are seldom seen.



Obverse: The obverse design is remarkably similar to the current Argentine national coat-of-arms. It depicts an elliptical shape, the interior of which contains two outstretched hands shaking while holding a pike with a Phrygian cap resting at the tip. The upper half of the elliptical shape is distinguished by horizontal lines that fall behind the pike and cap, which presumably is meant to symbolize the blue sky. A radiating sun appears immediately above the center of the elliptical shape. A wreath of two branches tied together flanks both sides of the elliptical shape but does not completely engulf it. This entire design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse depicts a similar wreath as the one on the reverse, but this time it completely engulfs the entire design. Contained within the wreath is the legend BUENOS AYRES UN DECIMO, which conforms to the curved nature of the wreath. The date, 1823 appears in the center of the reverse but is completely enclosed by the legend. This entire design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain edge

Alignment: Coin

Notes: It appears the currency pieces are found with both coin and medal alignment, with the medal alignment examples being slightly scarcer. This example is struck in coin alignment and is typical of the surviving mint state examples that can be found today. Although I hope to eventually upgrade this piece, I understand it may be years before an opportunity presents itself. Beyond a few toning spots this is an attractive example of the type, I just wish it were more equally matched with the proof in this set.
View Coin 1806 Bahamas Proof Penny Bahamas 1/2P 1806 BAH. NGC PF 65 BN There was unlikely a busier year for the Soho Mint than 1806, as it included the production of both English and Irish contracts that resulted in millions of coins. Nonetheless, Boulton still managed to churn out a relatively small order of copper coinage intended to circulate in the Bahamas. This project was placed on the back burner by all those involved for several years but did not gain traction until 1805. As Doty (1998) notes, the timing could not have been worse. At the time, the Soho mint was amid preparations for another issue of British coinage, the pressure of which was further compounded by the Irish coinage contract. There is little doubt that Boulton must have felt under pressure, which explains why he opted to use the obverse die for the British Halfpenny to strike the Bahamas Penny. In total, 120,317 Bahamas Pennies shipped on November 11th, 1806 (Doty, 1998).


Obverse: George III is depicted facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two loose ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. A brooch of 8 jewels (the 8th is noticeably smaller than the rest) on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e. a series of lines titled to the left), which is superimposed by K . (note the period is spaced from the “K”). The legend contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date, 1806, appearing at the bottom below the bust. This is all contained within a beaded border and slightly raised rim.

Reverse: Supposedly, the reverse design is meant to commemorate Captain Wodes Roger’s victory over the pirates in 1717. No matter the intent, the reserve is very attractive. It depicts a three-masted ship at sail adoring British flags at either end. The sails are full, and the underlying seas are rough giving the impression of an active scene. In the background, a ship can be seen at either end of the main three-masted vessel. An island appears on the horizon in the distant background. This entire scene appears above a sharp horizontal exergue line, beneath which appears the legend EXPULSIS PIRATIS RESTITUTA COMMERCIA in three lines. The legend translates to PIRATES DEFEATED COMMERCE RESTORED. The word BAHAMA appears centered and immediately above the entire scene. This is all contained within a beaded border and slightly raised rim.

Edge: Assume to be engrailed

Notes: Doty (1998) notes that a small number of proofs and restrikes are known to exist, but he provides very little additional information. Relative to the coins struck at the Soho Mint, there is very little readily available information on the Bahamas Pennies. Pridmore provides some information but falls short of painting a full picture and some of the details he provided have proven inaccurate. Nonetheless, Doty’s statement stands – proof and restrikes do exist. These can typically be distinguished by the remnants of die rust found on the restrikes. To my knowledge, all the restrikes have a plain edge, whereas the original proof strikes have an engrailed edge. One of the more frustrating facts is that it appears both major grading services started encapsulating these pieces before they had a firm grasp on what they were. For instance, this coin is graded by NGC as an 1806 Bahamas Halfpenny. No such coin exists. Of course, it might have been a mechanical error, but they also did not list the edge type on the label. Unfortunately, this piece was graded before they switched to the edge view holder. The lack of die rust makes me assume this is an original proof with an engrailed edge. This assumption is further supported by the notes made by Peck when discussing P-1366. This is a particularly well-preserved example, and very deserving of its gem status. As is the case with many coins in older holders, the plastic is marred with many scratches which sadly show up in the pictures.
View Coin 1792 France 5 Sol Maz-145 FRANCE - ESSAIS 5S 1792 MAZ-145 BRONZE PCGS MS 64 Brown The French token coinage struck at the Soho Mint is in a league of its own. Not only are the 5 Sol pieces crowned-sized, but they are loaded with intricate details and revolutionary symbols. They also distinction of being one of the first real tests for the Soho Mint machinery as noted in the introductory text for this set. Aesthetically pleasing, large, copper, and rich in history. What more could you possibly want? Oh, did I also mention that they are relatively affordable?


Obverse: The obverse design is a relatively intense deception of the Fête de la Fédération. I will do my best to describe it, but viewers are encouraged to make their observations based on the images provided. The main scene is contained within a vertically oblong oval. A large pyramidal column appears in the immediate background of a helmeted female draped in robes is depicted facing right. Presumably, this woman is an allegorical figure of the French Republic. Her left arm is completely obscured by the tablet in her hands, which is inscribed CONSTITUTION DES FRANCAIS. An oddly shaped shield appears to her right, which is decorated with a series of fine horizontal lines that are superseded by fleur de lis. She is seated on what appears to be a solid platform, like what one would see on a statue or monument. The side of which includes the engraver's name DUPRÉ. F. . Although uncollected to the platform, a slightly taller albeit narrower platform is depicted. We only see one side, but there is an engraving of what appears to be King Louis XVI. A slightly disheveled laurel wreath is affixed above and to the sides of the king’s portrait. In the foreground immediately in front of these platforms a small group of partially unraveled scrolls. There is indistinct writing on the upper scroll, but we can see PRIV on the one resting on the ground. I assume this is a nod to the abandonment of privileges. To the immediate right of the seated figure appears a large group of Garde Nationale soldiers marching in formation in full uniform with slight variations in headgear. Their right arm is raised and pointing straight, presumably a symbol of their oath to the republic. The soldier in the immediate foreground is grasping the hilt of his sword with his left hand. Several more rows of soldiers holding rifles with bayonets affixed are either directly depicted or implied to exist behind this first row of saluting soldiers. One of the soldiers, either from the first or second row, is hoisting his sword high in the air. Although not all are clear enough to describe, at least four flags are presented by the soldiers. The most prominent of which is embellished with a liberty cap above a scroll that I believe is supposed to read as VIVRES LIBRES OU MOURIR. Above this entire scene, but still contained in the oval, appear the words PACTE FEDERATIF. . In two lines, the legend 14 JUILLET. 1790 appears in the exergue. The oblong oval is contained within the perfectly formed inner circle with a slightly raised rim, within which appears the legend VIVRE LIBRES on the left, and OU MOURIR. on the right. The entire design is enclosed by a toothed border. The obverse of this example is beautifully toned with hints of reb, cobalt blue, and magenta.

Reverse: The obverse is stunning and outshines the reverse, which lacks a bit of imagination. The entire reverse design is contained within a toothed border. Tightly hugging this border appears the legend MONNERON FRERES NEGOCIANS A PARIS, which is separated by an inner raised ring. The date 1792 appears at the bottom. Within the inner ring appears the legend MEDAILLE DE CONFIANCE DE CINQ-SOLD REMBOURSABLE EN ASSIGNATS DE 50. ET AU DESSUS in seven lines. An exergue line appears but does not bisect the inner ring. Under this line, it reads L’AN IV. DE LA LIBERTE in two lines.

Edge: Départements de Paris. Rhone et Loire. Du Gard (incuse)

Notes: The typical obverse design of these coins is rather intense by Soho Mint standards. Intricate details abound throughout the central devices, and this is likely because the design is an adaptation of Agustin Dupré’s work. Although a notable engraver, he was not under the purview of Boulton and had no obligation to oblige to the simplistic elegance standard of the Soho mint. Nonetheless, this is an amazing design to study closely. There is no lack of attention to detail – even the soldiers down the line have distinct facial features. This fact is even more impressive when considering that these pieces were struck in mass quantities during a very short period in the 1790s.

This coin is currently tied with one other for the finest graded at PCGS.
View Coin 1792 France 5 Sol Maz-150 Specimen FRANCE - ESSAIS 5S 1792 MAZ-150 BRONZE PCGS MS 64 Brown *****This coin is graded PCGS SP-64BN - the NGC system does not recognize the SP prefix for PCGS graded coins*****

Please note that the introductory text below and the notes section do not differ between the like pieces in this set; however, the descriptions of obverse, reverse, and edge do differ as needed.

The French token coinage struck at the Soho Mint is in a league of its own. Not only are the 5 Sol pieces crowned-sized, but they are loaded with intricate details and revolutionary symbols. They also distinction of being one of the first real tests for the Soho Mint machinery as noted in the introductory text for this set. Aesthetically pleasing, large, copper, and rich in history. What more could you possibly want? Oh, did I also mention that they are relatively affordable?

Obverse: The obverse design is a relatively intense deception of the Fête de la Fédération. I will do my best to describe it, but viewers are encouraged to make their observations based on the images provided. The main scene is contained within a vertically oblong oval. A large pyramidal column appears in the immediate background of a helmeted female draped in robes is depicted facing right. Presumably, this woman is an allegorical figure of the French Republic. Her left arm is completely obscured by the tablet in her hands, which is inscribed CONSTITUTION DES FRANCAIS. An oddly shaped shield appears to her right, which is decorated with a series of fine horizontal lines that are superseded by fleur de lis. She is seated on what appears to be a solid platform, like what one would see on a statue or monument. The side of which includes the engraver's name DUPRÉ. F. . Although uncollected to the platform, a slightly taller albeit narrower platform is depicted. We only see one side, but there is an engraving of what appears to be King Louis XVI. A slightly disheveled laurel wreath is affixed above and to the sides of the king’s portrait. In the foreground immediately in front of these platforms a small group of partially unraveled scrolls. There is indistinct writing on the upper scroll, but we can see PRIV on the one resting on the ground. I assume this is a nod to the abandonment of privileges. To the immediate right of the seated figure appears a large group of Garde Nationale soldiers marching in formation in full uniform with slight variations in headgear. Their right arm is raised and pointing straight, presumably a symbol of their oath to the republic. The soldier in the immediate foreground is grasping the hilt of his sword with his left hand. Several more rows of soldiers holding rifles with bayonets affixed are either directly depicted or implied to exist behind this first row of saluting soldiers. One of the soldiers, either from the first or second row, is hoisting his sword high in the air. Although not all are clear enough to describe, at least four flags are presented by the soldiers. The most prominent of which is embellished with a liberty cap above a scroll that I believe is supposed to read as VIVRES LIBRES OU MOURIR. Above this entire scene, but still contained in the oval, appear the words PACTE FEDERATIF. . In two lines, the legend 14 JUILLET. 1790 appears in the exergue. The oblong oval is contained within the perfectly formed inner circle with a slightly raised rim, within which appears the legend VIVRE LIBRES on the left, and OU MOURIR. on the right. The entire design is enclosed by a toothed border.

Reverse: The obverse is stunning and outshines the reverse, which lacks a bit of imagination. The entire reverse design is contained within a toothed border. Tightly hugging this border appears the legend REVOLUTION FRANÇAISE, which is separated by an inner raised ring. The date 1792 appears at the bottom. It is worth noting that the size of the lettering on the reverse is substantially larger than that found on Maz-145 or other similar pieces. Within the inner ring appears the legend MEDAILLE QUI SE VEND in two lines. Centered in the middle of the reverse in the much larger font are the words CINQ – SOLS. The reverse legend continues in the smaller font of the first two lines. Separated into three lines it reads A PARIS CHEZ MONNERON PATENTE with the last word appearing between two vertical lines of varying shape. Oddly, the inner circle is incomplete with a notable void at 5 o’clock and numerous thin areas throughout. This is likely due to the over-polishing of the dies.

Edge: La. Confiance. Augmente. La. Valeur. (incuse)

Notes: The typical obverse design of these coins is rather intense by Soho Mint standards. Intricate details abound throughout the central devices, and this is likely because the design is an adaptation of Agustin Dupré’s work. Although a notable engraver, he was not under the purview of Boulton and had no obligation to oblige to the simplistic elegance standard of the Soho mint. Nonetheless, this is an amazing design to study closely. There is no lack of attention to detail – even the soldiers down the line have distinct facial features. This fact is even more impressive when considering that these pieces were struck in mass quantities during a very short period in the 1790s.
There are currently two other examples graded SP-64 BN with one finer (an SP-65) at PCGS.
View Coin 1792 France 5 Sol Maz-150 FRANCE - ESSAIS 5S 1792 MAZ-150 BRONZE PCGS MS 64 Brown Please note that the introductory text below and the notes section do not differ between the like pieces in this set; however, the descriptions of obverse, reverse, and edge do differ as needed.

The French token coinage struck at the Soho Mint is in a league of its own. Not only are the 5 Sol pieces crowned-sized, but they are loaded with intricate details and revolutionary symbols. They also distinction of being one of the first real tests for the Soho Mint machinery as noted in the introductory text for this set. Aesthetically pleasing, large, copper, and rich in history. What more could you possibly want? Oh, did I also mention that they are relatively affordable?

Obverse: The obverse design is a relatively intense deception of the Fête de la Fédération. I will do my best to describe it, but viewers are encouraged to make their observations based on the images provided. The main scene is contained within a vertically oblong oval. A large pyramidal column appears in the immediate background of a helmeted female draped in robes is depicted facing right. Presumably, this woman is an allegorical figure of the French Republic. Her left arm is completely obscured by the tablet in her hands, which is inscribed CONSTITUTION DES FRANCAIS. An oddly shaped shield appears to her right, which is decorated with a series of fine horizontal lines that are superseded by fleur de lis. She is seated on what appears to be a solid platform, like what one would see on a statue or monument. The side of which includes the engraver's name DUPRÉ. F. . Although uncollected to the platform, a slightly taller albeit narrower platform is depicted. We only see one side, but there is an engraving of what appears to be King Louis XVI. A slightly disheveled laurel wreath is affixed above and to the sides of the king’s portrait. In the foreground immediately in front of these platforms a small group of partially unraveled scrolls. There is indistinct writing on the upper scroll, but we can see PRIV on the one resting on the ground. I assume this is a nod to the abandonment of privileges. To the immediate right of the seated figure appears a large group of Garde Nationale soldiers marching in formation in full uniform with slight variations in headgear. Their right arm is raised and pointing straight, presumably a symbol of their oath to the republic. The soldier in the immediate foreground is grasping the hilt of his sword with his left hand. Several more rows of soldiers holding rifles with bayonets affixed are either directly depicted or implied to exist behind this first row of saluting soldiers. One of the soldiers, either from the first or second row, is hoisting his sword high in the air. Although not all are clear enough to describe, at least four flags are presented by the soldiers. The most prominent of which is embellished with a liberty cap above a scroll that I believe is supposed to read as VIVRES LIBRES OU MOURIR. Above this entire scene, but still contained in the oval, appear the words PACTE FEDERATIF. . In two lines, the legend 14 JUILLET. 1790 appears in the exergue. The oblong oval is contained within the perfectly formed inner circle with a slightly raised rim, within which appears the legend VIVRE LIBRES on the left, and OU MOURIR. on the right. The entire design is enclosed by a toothed border.

Reverse: The obverse is stunning and outshines the reverse, which lacks a bit of imagination. The entire reverse design is contained within a toothed border. Tightly hugging this border appears the legend REVOLUTION FRANÇAISE, which is separated by an inner raised ring. The date 1792 appears at the bottom. It is worth noting that the size of the lettering on the reverse is substantially larger than that found on Maz-145 or other similar pieces. Within the inner ring appears the legend MEDAILLE QUI SE VEND in two lines. Centered in the middle of the reverse in the much larger font are the words CINQ – SOLS. The reverse legend continues in the smaller font of the first two lines. Separated into three lines it reads A PARIS CHEZ MONNERON PATENTE with the last word appearing between two vertical lines of varying shape. Oddly, the inner circle is incomplete with a notable void at 5 o’clock and numerous thin areas throughout. This is likely due to the over-polishing of the dies.

Edge: La. Confiance. Augmente. La. Valeur. (incuse)

Notes: The typical obverse design of these coins is rather intense by Soho Mint standards. Intricate details abound throughout the central devices, and this is likely because the design is an adaptation of Agustin Dupré’s work. Although a notable engraver, he was not under the purview of Boulton and had no obligation to oblige to the simplistic elegance standard of the Soho mint. Nonetheless, this is an amazing design to study closely. There is no lack of attention to detail – even the soldiers down the line have distinct facial features. This fact is even more impressive when considering that these pieces were struck in mass quantities during a very short period in the 1790s.
This coin is currently tied with 3 others for the finest graded at PCGS.
View Coin 1792 France 2 Sol Maz-157 FRANCE - ESSAIS 2S 1792 MAZ-157 BRONZE NGC MS 63 BN PL The standard design of the French 2 Sol pieces struck for the Monneron Brothers is more typical of the simplistic elegance standard of the Soho Mint. This is likely because Boulton had the ability to oversee the design process, as the dies were produced by his engraver Ponton. The design, although simple compared to the 5 Sol pieces, is still attractive and loaded with symbolism.


Obverse: A sun with radiating rays shines down on a seated female allegorical figure of liberty draped in robes appears left. She is proudly perched on what appears to be a square slab of stone. Her right arm is extended holding a pike with a liberty cap resting at its tip. Her left arm rests on a tablet inscribed DROITS DE L’HOMME ARTIC V. in five lines. This seems to be a clear nod to the Declaration of the Rights of Man. In the background behind the tablet is a pillar with horizontal facets. The top of this pillar is cut to create a level surface where a rooster is depicted walking and facing left. The foreground of the main device has curved edges that create space between it and the beaded border. The bottom is straight, which creates a semi-circular exergue containing the legend L’AN IV . DE LA LIBERTÉ, in two lines. The main legend tightly hugs the beaded border but is divided between liberty. It reads LIBERTÉ SOUS LA LOI.

Reverse: The entire reverse design is contained within a toothed border. Tightly hugging this border appears the legend
REVOLUTION FRANÇAISE, which is separated by an inner raised ring. The date 1792 appears at the bottom. Within the inner ring appears the legend MEDAILLE QUI SE VEND in two lines. Centered in the middle of the reverse in the much larger font are the words DEUX– SOLS. The reverse legend continues in the smaller font of the first two lines. Separated into three lines it reads A PARIS CHEZ MONNERON PATENTE with the last word appearing between two vertical lines of varying shape.

Edge: La. Confiance. Augmente. La. Valeur. (incuse)

Notes: As can be seen from the images, this token has an insane amount of contrast between the fields and main devices. Even the relatively plain reverse has a cameo. Of course, this token was also awarded the coveted Proof Like (PL) designation. In my opinion, this coin has all of the hallmarks one would typically see from a proof, but not so much from a standard currency piece. Nonetheless, I am very pleased to have such a beautiful example in my collection.

This is currently the single highest grade specimen with the + and PL designations at NGC.
View Coin 1796 Gold Coast Trade Ackey Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Inscribed Wrapper Ghana 1ACKEY 1796 KM-PN7 GOLD COAST BRONZED JAMES WATT COL. NGC PF 66 BN Please note that this is one coin from a three-piece set and the descriptions are similar for all three. This paired with the next two entries represents the entirety of Lot 309 of the James Watt Jr. Collection. The description reads:

“Gold Coast Settlements, Trade Coinage, 1796, bronzed proof ackey, quarter-ackey and taku, obvs., PARLIAMENT correctly spelt on both larger coins, revs., crowned Royal cipher GR in wreath (Vice 2B, 8B, 9B), late Soho and with the die flaws associated with the issue, mint state, in shells and paper wrappers inscribed “African 1 Akie 1796”, “African 2 Takoe 1796” and “African 1 Takoe 1796” respectively (3)."

The lot had an estimated hammer price of £400-600, but it shot past that selling for £1400. What an extreme bargain, even back in 2002. Currently, this piece is a single top-pop at NGC.

Obverse: The obverse design strays from the typical “simplistic elegance” often associated with the coinage struck at the Soho Mint. I will do my best to describe it, but the reader should form their description based on the images provided. The central device is a somewhat oval cartouche divided into two parts. The largest section occupies the lower two-thirds. A three-masted ship with seven gunports is depicted navigating gentle waters. Interestingly, each gunport is occupied by a defined cannon. A Union Jack is mounted at the rear of the ship just above the decorated railing on the quarterdeck while an ensign appears affixed to the bowsprit. A pennant appears at each of the three masts. Horizontal striations delineate the boundary between the upper and lower sections of the cartouche. The upper section depicts a cornucopia on the lower left side, while a beehive appears centered on the right. The beehive is surrounded by eight well-formed and evenly-spaced stars organized in an oval. The outer rim of the cartouche is decorated, but I will omit the minor details in this description. Resting upon the immediate center of the cartouche a tightly twisted coil of material rests under the feet of an elephant. The tusked elephant is depicted facing left with a downward trunk with its back covered by what appears to be a Union Jack. A bannered turret surmounts the elephant's back. A standing figure appears on either side with one hand seemingly supporting the cartouche. The figure on the left is wearing a feathered crown and holding a bow in their right hand. The figure on the right is wearing what is often described as an “elephant headdress” and is holding some unidentified item in their left hand. These figures and the cartouche rest upon an area of foreground divided into two distinct sections. A vine of some sort with flowers appears at their feet. These vines are seemingly hanging out of the mouth of what appears to be a lion that appears at the bottom center of the cartouche. The obverse legend begins close to the toothed border above the right figure. It reads FREE TRADE TO AFRICA • BY ACT • OF PARLIAMENT · 1750 · .

Reverse: The reverse design is the same between all three coins in this set. It depicts the royal cipher “GR” in a script monogram. The outer fringes and thicker limbs of the letters are ornately decorated, but I leave the details of that observation to the reader. It is worth noting that although this reverse design is very similar to that found on Droz’s pattern Six Pence pieces, these dies were almost undoubtedly engraved by Küchler. Floating immediately above the center of the cipher is an ornate crown. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones. The upper portion of this band is separated by a series of small bands, above which the remaining upper portion forms a small series of points in some areas and bisects either fleur de lis or a cross in other areas. A cross appears in the immediate middle of the crown, which is flanked on either side by a fleur de lis. The outermost edges of the crown show what appears to be a slightly curved crown. The top portion of the crown consists of two bridges protruding from the outer curved crosses, one on the left and one on the right, which convene at the top of the center cross. Both bridges are decorated with nine sharply cut beads resting upon a curved bar. A dainty cross with its bottom leg obscured by a large sphere appears balanced by two small beads resting upon the center cross. The crown is positioned in a way that allows the viewer to see the inner ring where it would rest upon the head. This area is decorated with a seemingly random array of indentations to portray texture. The crown separates the date at the top of the coin, with “17” appearing on the left, and “96” appearing on the right. A quintessentially Küchler-designed laurel wreath appears immediately below the cipher. The wreath consists of two branches tied together by a ribbon with one large bow and two loose ends. The left loose end is wrapped over the stem of the right branch while the right loose end is placed below the stem of the left branch. This entire design is contained within a toothed border.

Edge: Plain

Notes: The original order of coinage for the African Company of Merchants occurred in 1796 and consisted of four denominations struck in silver. This original issue had an unfortunate misspelling on the obverse. This point is noted in the auction catalog: “The original issue of these coins was characterised by the mis-spelling “Parliment”, which was corrected when a further supply was ordered in 1801. Vice notes that the 1796 half-ackey from the series was not restruck by Soho, probably because the dies had been damaged or lost.”. To this end, we can be confident that the coin pictured above is struck from the new dies prepared for the 1801 order.
View Coin 1796 Gold Coast Quarter Trade Ackey Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Inscribed Wrapper Ghana 1/4ACK 1796 KM-PN4 GOLD COAST BRONZED JAMES WATT COL. NGC PF 67 BN Please note that this is one coin from a three-piece set and the descriptions are similar for all three. This paired with the other two entries represent the entirety of Lot 309 of the James Watt Jr. Collection. The description reads:

“Gold Coast Settlements, Trade Coinage, 1796, bronzed proof ackey, quarter-ackey and taku, obvs., PARLIAMENT correctly spelt on both larger coins, revs., crowned Royal cipher GR in wreath (Vice 2B, 8B, 9B), late Soho and with the die flaws associated with the issue, mint state, in shells and paper wrappers inscribed “African 1 Akie 1796”, “African 2 Takoe 1796” and “African 1 Takoe 1796” respectively (3)."

The lot had an estimated hammer price of £400-600, but it shot past that selling for £1400. What an extreme bargain, even back in 2002. Currently, this piece is a single top-pop at NGC graded as PF-67 BN.

Obverse: The obverse design for the two smaller denominations differs from the Ackey in multiple ways. The central device is a well-defined shield divided into two parts. The largest section occupies the lower two-thirds. A three-masted ship with six gunports is depicted navigating gentle waters. Interestingly, each gunport is occupied by a defined cannon. A Union Jack is mounted at the rear of the ship just above the decorated railing on the quarterdeck while an ensign appears affixed to the bowsprit. A pennant appears at each of the three masts. Horizontal striations delineate the boundary between the upper and lower sections of the shield. The upper section depicts a cornucopia on the lower left side, while a beehive appears centered on the right. The beehive is surrounded by eight well-formed and evenly-spaced stars organized in an oval. Resting upon the immediate center of the shield is a tightly twisted coil of material that rests under the feet of an elephant. The tusked elephant is depicted facing left with a downward trunk with its back covered by what appears to be a Union Jack. A bannered turret surmounts the elephant's back. Each end of the shield appears to roll backward onto itself. A small, flowered vine droops from the curl formed by the outer edge of the shield on both sides. These vines vary slightly in their design. The obverse legend begins close to the toothed border above the right figure. It reads FREE TRADE TO AFRICA · BY ACT • OF PARLIAMENT · 1750 · . A large die crack appears from the rim, through the “A” in ACT, and protrudes through the shield before dissipating within the design of the elephant’s head.

Reverse: The reverse design is mostly the same between all three coins in this set. It depicts the royal cipher “GR” in a script monogram. The outer fringes and thicker limbs of the letters are ornately decorated, but I leave the details of that observation to the reader. It is worth noting that although this reverse design is very similar to that found on Droz’s pattern Six Pence pieces, these dies were almost undoubtedly engraved by Küchler. Floating immediately above the center of the cipher is an ornate crown. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones. The upper portion of this band is separated by a series of small bands, above which the remaining upper portion forms a small series of points in some areas and bisects either fleur de lis or a cross in other areas. A cross appears in the immediate middle of the crown, which is flanked on either side by a fleur de lis. The outermost edges of the crown show what appears to be a slightly curved crown. The top portion of the crown consists of two bridges protruding from the outer curved crosses, one on the left and one on the right, which convene at the top of the center cross. Both bridges are decorated with eight sharply cut beads resting upon a curved bar. A dainty cross with its bottom leg obscured by a large sphere appears balanced by a small bead resting upon the center cross. The crown is positioned in a way that allows the viewer to see the inner ring where it would rest upon the head. This area is decorated with a seemingly random array of indentations to portray texture. The crown separates the date at the top of the coin, with “17” appearing on the left, and “96” appearing on the right. A quintessentially Küchler-designed laurel wreath appears immediately below the cipher. The wreath consists of two branches tied together by a ribbon with one large bow and two loose ends. The left loose end is wrapped over the stem of the right branch while the right loose end is placed below the stem of the left branch. This entire design is contained within a toothed border.

Edge: Plain

Notes: The original order of coinage for the African Company of Merchants occurred in 1796 and consisted of four denominations struck in silver. This original issue had an unfortunate misspelling on the obverse. This point is noted in the auction catalog: “The original issue of these coins was characterised by the mis-spelling “Parliment”, which was corrected when a further supply was ordered in 1801. Vice notes that the 1796 half-ackey from the series was not restruck by Soho, probably because the dies had been damaged or lost.”. To this end, we can be confident that the coin pictured above is struck from the new dies prepared for the 1801 order. It is interesting to note that the denomination is not listed on any of these pieces.
View Coin 1796 Gold Coast One Trade Taku Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Inscribed Wrapper Ghana 1TACK 1796 KM-PN1 GOLD COAST BRONZED JAMES WATT COL. NGC PF 67 BN Please note that this is one coin from a three-piece set and the descriptions are similar for all three. This paired with the other two entries represent the entirety of Lot 309 of the James Watt Jr. Collection. The description reads:

“Gold Coast Settlements, Trade Coinage, 1796, bronzed proof ackey, quarter-ackey and taku, obvs., PARLIAMENT correctly spelt on both larger coins, revs., crowned Royal cipher GR in wreath (Vice 2B, 8B, 9B), late Soho and with the die flaws associated with the issue, mint state, in shells and paper wrappers inscribed “African 1 Akie 1796”, “African 2 Takoe 1796” and “African 1 Takoe 1796” respectively (3)."

The lot had an estimated hammer price of £400-600, but it shot past that selling for £1400. What an extreme bargain, even back in 2002. Currently, this piece is a single top-pop at NGC graded as PF-67 BN.

Obverse: The obverse design for the two smaller denominations differs from the Ackey in multiple ways. The central device is a well-defined shield divided into two parts. The largest section occupies the lower two-thirds. A three-masted ship with seven gunports is depicted navigating gentle waters. The design has been reduced so much that we can no longer determine if each gunport is occupied by a cannon. A Union Jack is mounted at the rear of the ship just above the decorated railing on the quarterdeck while an ensign appears affixed to the bowsprit. A pennant appears at each of the three masts. Horizontal striations delineate the boundary between the upper and lower sections of the shield. The upper section depicts a cornucopia on the lower left side, while a beehive appears centered on the right. The beehive is surrounded by eight well-formed and evenly-spaced stars organized in an oval. Resting upon the immediate center of the shield is a tightly twisted coil of material that rests under the feet of an elephant. The tusked elephant is depicted facing left with a downward trunk with its back covered by what appears to be a Union Jack. A bannered turret surmounts the elephant's back. Each end of the shield appears to roll backward onto itself. A small, flowered vine droops from the curl formed by the outer edge of the shield on both sides. These vines vary slightly in their design. The obverse legend begins close to the toothed border above the right figure. It reads FREE TRADE TO AFRICA · BY ACT • OF PARLIAMENT · 1750 · . A large die crack appears from the rim, through the “A” in ACT, and protrudes through the shield before dissipating within the design of the elephant’s head.

Reverse: The reverse design is mostly the same between all three coins in this set. It depicts the royal cipher “GR” in a script monogram. The outer fringes and thicker limbs of the letters are ornately decorated, but I leave the details of that observation to the reader. It is worth noting that although this reverse design is very similar to that found on Droz’s pattern Six Pence pieces, these dies were almost undoubtedly engraved by Küchler. Floating immediately above the center of the cipher is an ornate crown. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones. The upper portion of this band is separated by a series of small bands, above which the remaining upper portion forms a small series of points in some areas and bisects either fleur de lis or a cross in other areas. A cross appears in the immediate middle of the crown, which is flanked on either side by a fleur de lis. The outermost edges of the crown show what appears to be a slightly curved crown. The top portion of the crown consists of two bridges protruding from the outer curved crosses, one on the left and one on the right, which convene at the top of the center cross. Both bridges are decorated with seven sharply cut beads resting upon a curved bar. A dainty cross with its bottom leg obscured by a large sphere appears balanced by a small bead resting upon the center cross. The crown is positioned in a way that allows the viewer to see the inner ring where it would rest upon the head. This area is decorated with a seemingly random array of indentations to portray texture. The crown separates the date at the top of the coin, with “17” appearing on the left, and “96” appearing on the right. A quintessentially Küchler-designed laurel wreath appears immediately below the cipher. The wreath consists of two branches tied together by a ribbon with one large bow and two loose ends. The left loose end is wrapped over the stem of the right branch while the right loose end is placed below the stem of the left branch. This entire design is contained within a toothed border.

Edge: Plain

Notes: The original order of coinage for the African Company of Merchants occurred in 1796 and consisted of four denominations struck in silver. This original issue had an unfortunate misspelling on the obverse. This point is noted in the auction catalog: “The original issue of these coins was characterised by the mis-spelling “Parliment”, which was corrected when a further supply was ordered in 1801. Vice notes that the 1796 half-ackey from the series was not restruck by Soho, probably because the dies had been damaged or lost.”. To this end, we can be confident that the coin pictured above is struck from the new dies prepared for the 1801 order. It is interesting to note that the denomination is not listed on any of these pieces.
View Coin 1834 Guernsey 8 Doubles GUERNSEY 8D 1834 NGC MS 63 BN The Guernsey coinage marks the unfortunate decline of the Soho Mint. At this point, the machinery had been sold and Matthew Robinson Boulton was just starting to rebuild the mint. The 1830 coinage was not struck using steam presses, but I am not sure if this also applies to the 1834 coinage. According to Doty (1998), a total of 221, 760 Eight doubles were struck at the Soho Mint.

Obverse: The entire obverse design is contained within a narrow-raised rim and beaded inner border. The legend GUERNESEY appears centered at the top. A shield appears in the center of the obverse, with a defined outer rim. A sprig of three leaves protrudes from the valley formed by the two upper ridges of the shield. The inner portion of the shield is a series of evenly placed vertical lines. A series of three lions superseded this decoration. Each lion is crouching to their left with their right limb outstretched upward in front of them. The front left and rear right legs are pressed forward while the front left leg is outstretched behind. Their tails for what could be described as a sideways S. All three lions are facing the viewer. A wreath of two twigs tied together by a ribbon with two bows and no loose ends appears immediately below and flanks both sides of the shield.

Reverse: A wreath found on the obverse adorns the bottom of the reverse and flanks the legend, which appears in three different font sizes. The number 8 appears centered in the upper third of the reverse in the largest font. Immediately below, is the word DOUBLES in a relatively small font. The date, 1834 appears centered in medium font. The entire reverse design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is far from the nicest example I have seen, but it does have a rather appealing evenly toned color to it. It is a very pleasing coin to inspect in hand. Nonetheless, this coin will eventually be upgraded when I find an example that strikes my fancy more. For the time being, I am happy to have this very affordable example in my collection.
View Coin 1804 Bombay Presidency Pice Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Wrapper INDIA - BRITISH PICE AH1219//1804 BOMBAY PRESIDENCY NGC PF 67 BN I have focused on English and Irish copper coinage for some time now, and I never thought I would also pursue coinage from the Bombay Presidency! Initially, this set was only to include coinage struck at the Soho Mint depicting George III, but I quickly realized that doing so alienated a significant portion of the mint's history. Around the same time, I was researching the silver-lined brass shells that occasionally accompanied a Soho product and came across this jaw-dropper. Not only is the coin a gem (PF-67!), but it has retained its original shells and wrapper. To make things even better, the coin is traced back to the collection of James Watt Jr., the son of James Watt! Watt Jr. served as the mint master for many years, shortly following the death of Matthew Boulton in 1809. By most accounts, Watt Jr. was the only real coin collector among the Soho Mint's significant players. He built a truly remarkable collection expanding beyond the products of the Soho Mint, and the pieces he preserved are among some of the most excellent examples in existence. ALL SCUFFS ARE ON THE HOLDER


Obverse: The Obverse design is rather pleasing, with the East India Company's arms surrounded by the legend. The company's arms consist of two outward-facing lions perched on top of a curved ribbon bearing the inscription "AUSPICIO REGIS & SENATUS ANGLIAE" which translates to "By right of the King and Senate of England". The innermost foot of each lion is resting upon a ball above the ribbon. The lions are upright on hind legs supporting a shield with one arm and holding a slightly angled flagpole bearing an English flag. The shield is quartered, a crowned shield depicting the English and French coat of arms appears on the upper left-hand side. The remaining three quadrants are blank. Centered immediately above the central shield supported by the upright lions is a knight's helmet adorned with a necklace. Centered upon the top of the helmet is an upright lion with one paw resting on a ball. The lion is holding a regal crown and facing the viewer of the coin. The legend "EAST INDIA COMPANY" adorns the top of the coin. The date "1804" rests at the bottom centered under the coat of arms. The somewhat peculiarly spaced beaded border is contained within a very thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse design is much more simplistic. The main device is a balanced set of scales. Each pan is well engraved and gives a sense of depth. The pans are connected by three lines that are detailed to look like chains that come to a head attached to the scale's main arm. Three branches terminated by dots appear at the top, middle, and bottom of the scale's main arm with the pans attached to the lowest. This occurs on both sides. The main body of the scale is moderately ornate, with the main arm getting progressively thicker until it reaches the center. Bisecting the main arm is another branch that terminates in a ball. This is connected to a ring. The Persian legend "Adil," which translates to "Fair" occurs centered between the two pans. The date "1219" appears in Arabic just below. The beaded border on the reverse is more closely spaced and contained within a slightly thicker outer rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This coin is nothing short of a jaw-dropper. The primary devices are deeply frosted on both the obverse and reverse, which makes me wonder why this coin was not awarded at least the cameo designation. To any extent, the coin is well struck, highly reflective, free of any detectible blemishes, and has a lovely rich chocolate brown color. In short, this coin has it all and has quickly become one of my favorite coins struck at the Soho Mint. Unfortunately, the holder looks like it was used as a hockey puck for a few seasons and needs to be replaced. I will eventually do this, and I look forward to making some new images of this monster when I do!
View Coin 1803 Madras Presidency 10 Cash Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Wrapper India - British 10CASH 1803 INDIA Ex. James Watt Jr. NGC PF 65 BN This coin alongside the other Madras and Bombay Presidency pieces marks some of the first coins I acquired with the Watt Jr. provenance. As such, they hold a special place within the larger context of my collection. For the sake of simplicity, I have opted to include this entry just above that of the 1808 10 Cash piece, although this does not align with the rest of the general layout of the set. You will likely notice that the obverse between the two pieces is the same between the Madras and Bombay coins. The East India Company had control over both territories and was logical to include their coat of arms on the coinage that circulated freely between them. Like its two other counterparts, this piece has retained its original shells and wrapper and is traced back to the collection of James Watt Jr.



The story of the last Madras Coinage contract is marred with bad fortune. First, the Soho Mint and the East India Company sparred over logistics (price, who would obtain the copper, etc.). Then the Soho Mint made a major mistake and produced too many of one denomination and not enough of another, which created a shortage of the later (Doty, 1998). This shortage was further exasperated when the Admiral Gardner ships sank in early 1809, leaving the company with many issues. This would be the last Madras contract for the Soho Mint.

Obverse: The Obverse design is rather pleasing, with the East India Company's arms surrounded by the legend. The company's arms consist of two outward-facing lions perched on top of a curved ribbon bearing the inscription "AUSP REGIS & SENATUS ANGLIAE" which translates to "By right of the King and Senate of England". The innermost foot of each lion is resting upon a ball above the ribbon. The lions are upright on hind legs supporting a shield with one arm and holding a slightly angled flagpole bearing an English flag. The shield is quartered, a crowned shield depicting the English and French coat of arms appears on the upper left-hand side. The remaining three quadrants are blank. Centered immediately above the central shield supported by the upright lions is a knight's helmet adorned with a necklace. Centered upon the top of the helmet is an upright lion with one paw resting on a ball. The lion is holding a regal crown and facing the viewer of the coin. The legend "EAST INDIA COMPANY" adorns the top of the coin. The date "1803" rests at the bottom centered under the coat of arms. The somewhat peculiarly spaced beaded border is contained within a very thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse design is much more simplistic than the obverse but significantly more complicated for the English engravers to execute. The denomination "DAH KAS DO FALUS AST" or “ 10 CASH MAKE TWO FALUS” appears in Persian above two parallel lines. Immediately below THE denomination, the legend "X. CASH." appears just above a decorated divider with a flower in the center and radiating branches bisected by progressively smaller balls. The entire reverse design is contained within a beaded bored and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: I was able to work closely with NGC to get this coin and its shells housed together in a single multi-coin holder. The slab makes for an impressive display, but more importantly, it helps ensure that the shells remain paired with the coin. In general, the coin is remarkably well persevered and does not exhibit excessive hairlines. When purchased, it came with an old NGC insert with the grade of PF-66 BN. In my opinion, the piece is conservatively graded. Unlike its 1808 counterpart, this piece weighs the standard issue weight of 6.47 grams.
View Coin 1803 Madras Presidency Proof 1 Cash Ex. Puddester (Label Error) INDIA - BRITISH CASH 1803 MADRAS PRESIDENCY Robert P. Puddester Coll. NGC MS 65 BN The Madras One Cash piece is, by far, the smallest coin struck at the Soho Mint, measuring just 11.5mm. It seems somewhat comical that the largest and smallest coinage struck at the Soho Mint would prove the most difficult. In this case, Boulton had to design special equipment to strike such a tiny coin with any degree of proficiency.


Obverse: Compared to the other East India Company coinage struck by the Soho Mint, the obverse design is very plain. I assume the tiny size of the coin prevented any intricate design. The obverse design consists of a left-outward-facing lion perched on top of a tightly knotted and curved ribbon. The lion’s left foot is resting upon a ball above the ribbon, while the right foot is flexed pushing off the ribbon. The lion is holding a regal crown upright to the left side of the coin from the viewer’s perspective. The date “1803” appears immediately below the ribbon and just above the relatively thick raised rim.
Reverse: The denomination " KAS" or “CASH” appears in Persian above two parallel lines. Immediately below the denomination, the legend "I. CASH." appears just above a decorated divider with a flower in the center and radiating branches bisected by progressively smaller balls. The entire reverse design is contained within a relatively thick raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This example is from the Robert P. Puddester Collection, which was one of the finest collections of East India Company coinage assembled. Although listed by NGC as MS, the auctioneer, Mr. Puddester, and the source where Mr. Puddester purchased this piece, all consider it a bronzed proof. After careful consideration, I am inclined to agree with the majority, but I have been unwilling to forfeit the special label affixed to this coin to have the issue corrected. Nonetheless, I am happy to have a gem example of a very popular type.
View Coin 1803 Madras Presidency 1 Cash INDIA - BRITISH CASH 1803 MADRAS PRESIDENCY PCGS MS 64 Brown As noted by Doty (1998), 720 of these coins could be produced from a single pound of metal, and they were too small to be wrapped for shipping. Instead, they were placed loose in the casks. In line with the predominate ill-fate of the entire Madras affair, several of these casks split in shipping, and over 10,000 pieces were lost. Today, it can be challenging to find a nicely preserved example, and one needs to be careful not to unknowingly purchase a reasonably deceptive modern fantasy piece. Some of these modern fantasy pieces have been graded as genuine examples by all of the major grading companies. Please see the notes section for additional information.


Obverse: Compared to the other East India Company coinage struck by the Soho Mint, the obverse design is very plain. I assume the tiny size of the coin prevented any intricate design. The obverse design consists of a left-outward-facing lion perched on top of a tightly knotted and curved ribbon. The lion’s left foot is resting upon a ball above the ribbon, while the right foot is flexed pushing off the ribbon. The lion is holding a regal crown upright to the left side of the coin from the viewer’s perspective. The date “1803” appears immediately below the ribbon and just above the relatively thick raised rim.
Reverse: The denomination " KAS" or “CASH” appears in Persian above two parallel lines. Immediately below the denomination, the legend "I. CASH." appears just above a decorated divider with a flower in the center and radiating branches bisected by progressively smaller balls. The entire reverse design is contained within a relatively thick raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is one of the nicest currency strike examples I have encountered. It is fully struck, retains some original red color, is fully lustrous, and free of any major imperfections relative to most of its counterparts. The only downside is that PCGS placed the coin in the holder at an angle, which makes it very difficult to photograph. I plan to reach out to have this issue corrected. As I previously mentioned, some caution is warranted as modern fantasy strikes exist. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between a genuine and modern restrike is by the weight. The modern fantasy pieces were struck on thick flans and typically weigh 1.3 grams compared to the average 0.64 grams of the genuine pieces. Beyond this diagnostic, there are numerous differences in the design, which I illustrate below.
View Coin 1808 Madras Presidency 10 Cash INDIA - BRITISH 10CASH 1808 MADRAS PRESIDENCY (4.7g) NGC MS 64 BN The breadth of this collection has changed over the years, but the most recent adaptation strives to present a type-set of the numerous coinages struck at the Soho Mint. Those produced for the East India Company constitute a substantial chapter of Soho's history and deserve a rather broad representation in this set. Unfortunately, many of these coins are plagued with environmental damage, and those that have survived unscathed are not easily acquired. I encourage those hoping to build an entire set of Soho Mint East India Company coinage to seize every opportunity to acquire them. The stark contrast between the inflated mintages and the number of problem-free examples available is not something that I foresaw. The pieces contained in this set were only added after spirited bidding, a few curse words, and a touch of frustration.
As I noted in a previous EIC write-up, the story of the last Madras Coinage contract is marred with bad fortune. This is particularly true when considering the ill-fate of the 1808 Ten Cash pieces, which went down on the Admiral Gardner, in the Goodman Sands in 1809 (Doty, 1998). Collectors of this series are undoubtedly familiar with the seemingly endless supply of sea-salvaged 1808 Ten Cash pieces that are on the market. In fact, one will have a significantly difficult time finding an example that is not associated with the Admiral Gardner shipwreck. To this end, problem-free examples are very difficult to find and often command strong prices that are greatly disproportional to the number produced.



Obverse: The Obverse depicts the East India Company's arms surrounded by the legend. The company's arms consist of two outward-facing lions perched on top of a curved ribbon bearing the inscription "AUSP REGIS & SENATUS ANGLIAE" which translates to "By right of the King and Senate of England". The innermost foot of each lion is resting upon a ball above the ribbon. The lions are upright on hind legs supporting a shield with one arm and holding a slightly angled flagpole bearing an English flag. The shield is quartered, a crowned shield depicting the English and French coat of arms appears on the upper left-hand side. The remaining three quadrants are blank. Centered immediately above the central shield supported by the upright lions is a knight's helmet adorned with a necklace. Centered upon the top of the helmet is an upright lion with one paw resting on a ball. The lion is holding a regal crown and facing the viewer of the coin. The legend "EAST INDIA COMPANY" adorns the top of the coin. The date "1808" rests at the bottom centered under the coat of arms. The somewhat peculiarly spaced beaded border is contained within a very thin raised rim.

Reverse: The denomination "DAH KAS DO FALUS AST" or “ 10 CASH MAKE TWO FALUS” appears in Persian above two parallel lines. Immediately below the denomination, the legend "X. CASH." appears just above a decorated divider with a flower in the center and radiating branches bisected by progressively smaller balls. The entire reverse design is contained within a beaded border and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: Although not listed on the label, this piece weighs 4.66 grams (medal alignment, 25.8 mm diameter). As I noted above, it is very difficult to find problem-free examples of the 1808 Ten Cash pieces because so many of them are salt-water damaged. This example retains a good amount of the original red on the obverse, but the reverse is slightly subdued by the toning. Unfortunately, I purchased this coin already graded, and the scratched holder makes it difficult to fully capture the character of the coin. Please disregard any notable marks that appear in the image, as these are almost certainly on the holder and not the coin.
View Coin 1808 Madras Presidency 10 Cash Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Wrapper INDIA - BRITISH 10CASH 1808 MADRAS PRESIDENCY (4.7g) Ex. James Watt Jr. NGC PF 65 BN I came across this coin at roughly the same time when I bought the 1804 Bombay Pice, and just like its counterpart, this coin is exceptional. The first Madras Presidency coinage contract proceeded Boulton's engagement to strike for the Bombay Presidency, but this coin is a byproduct of a later contract and thus displayed after the Bombay piece. You will likely notice that the obverse between the two pieces is the same. The East India Company had control over both territories, and was logical to include their coat of arms on the coinage that circulated freely between them. Like its Bombay counterpart, this piece has retained its original shells and wrapper and is traced back to the collection of James Watt Jr.


The story of the last Madras Coinage contract is marred with bad fortune. First, the Soho Mint and the East India Company sparred over logistics (price, who would obtain the copper, etc.). Then the Soho Mint made a major mistake and produced too many of one denomination and not enough of another, which created a shortage of the later (Doty, 1998). This shortage was further exasperated when the Admiral Gardner ships sank in early 1809, leaving the company with many issues. This would be the last Madras contract for the Soho Mint.

Obverse: The Obverse design is rather pleasing, with the East India Company's arms surrounded by the legend. The company's arms consist of two outward-facing lions perched on top of a curved ribbon bearing the inscription "AUSPICIO REGIS & SENATUS ANGLIAE" which translates to "By right of the King and Senate of England". The innermost foot of each lion is resting upon a ball above the ribbon. The lions are upright on hind legs supporting a shield with one arm and holding a slightly angled flagpole bearing an English flag. The shield is quartered, a crowned shield depicting the English and French coat of arms appears on the upper left-hand side. The remaining three quadrants are blank. Centered immediately above the central shield supported by the upright lions is a knight's helmet adorned with a necklace. Centered upon the top of the helmet is an upright lion with one paw resting on a ball. The lion is holding a regal crown and facing the viewer of the coin. The legend "EAST INDIA COMPANY" adorns the top of the coin. The date "1808" rests at the bottom centered under the coat of arms. The somewhat peculiarly spaced beaded border is contained within a very thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse design is much more simplistic than the obverse but significantly more complicated for the English engravers to execute. The denomination "DAH KAS DO FALUS AST" or “ 10 CASH MAKE TWO FALUS” appears in Persian above two parallel lines. Immediately below THE denomination, the legend "X. CASH." appears just above a decorated divider with a flower in the center and radiating branches bisected by progressively smaller balls. The entire reverse design is contained within a beaded bored and a thin raised rim.

Edge: Plain

Notes: The holder this coin is housed in also very scuffed and needs to be replaced. The scuffed holder makes it nearly impossible to capture decent pictures of this coin, so once it is placed in a new holder, I will upload better images of it. For now, you will need to imagine what the coin should look like behind the marred plastic. Overall the piece is free of any major marks, and the color is the same rich milk chocolate brown color found on the Bombay piece. Unfortunately, it does not have the same cameo contrast but is a very pleasing coin nonetheless. I hope to eventually add more of these Watt Jr. pieces to the collection, but they seldom come up for auction. It should also be noted that this is a lightweight piece weighing just 4.7 grams instead of 6.47.
View Coin 1805 Ireland Proof Penny Ex. James Watt Jr. Collection with Original Soho Shells IRELAND 1603-1823 PENNY 1805 COPPER-BRONZED PLAIN EDGE RESTRIKE JAMES WATT COL. NGC PF 65 BN I have a soft spot for the Irish coinage struck at the Soho Mint. I remember being mesmerized by the high-quality Irish pieces from the Boulton Estate when I first discovered Bill McKivor’s website. From that moment on the decision was made – I had to have a nice Irish piece from either the James Watt Jr. or Boulton Family collection. I was fortunate enough to add this blazing example to my collection in 2023. Not only can its ownership be traced over two centuries, but it has also retained the original silver-lined brass shells.


Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves and three berries tied behind his neck with a riband of 1 bow and two loose ends. The top loose end appears to intersect the loop while the bottom loose end floats freely down, and the tip barely touches the upper leftmost curl. The bow and two loose ends appear lightly striated. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 well-defined square jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain with a K in roughly the center. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. all evenly spaced. There is an odd planchet flaw under the “O”. Although not designated on the holder, the obverse has a very deep cameo.

Reverse: The reverse portrays a crowned harp with 9 strings. The left side of the harp consists of a half-clad woman; her lower half is adorned with what I describe as a mermaid-like fin. Her top half is exposed with her arms depicted as wings that make up the top part of the harp where the crown rests. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones that appears as the following: (• · : ? : ·?· : ? : · •). It should be noted that the center stone should be rotated 180 degrees, and the square gems are not in proper proportion or location, but I am not tech-savvy enough to do that. The top of the crown consists of two bridges, one on the left and the right, which convene at the top center of the cross located in the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with ten recut beads resting upon a curved bar. The bottom left interior portion of the crown (used to depict the inner ring where it would rest on the head) is plain. The corresponding right side is missing entirely. Note the design of the right arm of the harp. This design becomes less elegant as the denomination decreases. The legend reads as follows: HIBERNIA. With several notable flaws throughout most of the letters. The most obvious appear on the H, I, B, and A. Beyond those flaws, all the letters have been double-struck with a slight counterclockwise rotation. The date 1805 appears below the main device with several notable flaws. For instance, the 8 is missing the top and bottom loops. The entire legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. Like the obverse, the reverse has a very deep cameo.

Edge: When verifying the certification number, the data reported indicates that this coin has a plain edge. I am unable to verify this because the coin is an older holder with the prongs.

Notes: The pictures do not do this coin justice because the holder is very scuffed, which makes it difficult to photograph. I am surprised that NGC did not at least assign this coin the cameo designation. Overall, this coin is stunning in hand. My only worry is that I may never have the opportunity to find an equivalent halfpenny and farthing to complete the set. This piece appeared as lot 342 of the Watt Jr. auction and fetched a whopping £280 at the time. Sadly, the catalog description mentions an inscribed wrapper that has seemingly been lost to time, but it has retained the original silver-lined brass shells. Notably, this piece was sold as a single-item lot given the large group lots that preceded it in the catalog.

It is worth noting that this piece is marked as a "plain edge restrike", but is more appropriately classified as a "Late Soho" piece as it was not struck by Taylor.
View Coin 1805 Ireland Proof Penny Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells Ireland 1603-1823 PENNY 1805 IRELAND Skinner Collection NGC PF 64 RB The proof Irish pennies tend to come up for sale much more frequently than either the farthings or halfpennies, which in part made me pickier about adding an example to my collection. I watched several very nice examples pass through various auction houses without placing a bid, mainly because these coins seemed to be selling for very strong prices. I did not want to pay an exorbitant price for a relatively common coin just to complete a set, but I was willing to pay more for an exceptional coin. I told myself that I would go all-in for a nice cameo piece (either graded or raw) or a nice example with the original shells. After a little over a year of searching, I stumbled upon this piece which nearly checked all of the boxes on my want list. Although not quite to the level deserving the cameo designation, there is a decent amount of contrast between the fields and main devices. Given how scarce cameo examples are in the marketplace I consider this a win that is only further complimented the silver-lined brass shells. The only thing that would have made this purchase better would be a provenance to either the Boulton estate or the Watt Jr collection. As I have noted before, I have yet to discover an excellent reference book for varieties that even comes close to Peck's caliber. I only provide basic details in my descriptions, followed by some observations that I have made.



Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves and three berries tied behind his neck with a riband of 1 bow and two loose ends. The top loose end appears to intersect the loop while the bottom loose end floats freely down, and the tip barely touches the upper leftmost curl. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 square jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain with a K in roughly the center. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. all evenly spaced. This particular example is remarkably free of contact marks and is truly premium quality for the grade and appears to be a well-struck example. Although the images do not accurately depict it, I would estimate that the obverse retains about 80% of its original red luster.

Reverse: The reverse portrays a crowned harp with 9 strings. The left side of the harp consists of a half-clad woman; her lower half is adorned with what I describe as a mermaid-like fin. Her top half is exposed with her arms depicted as wings that make up the top part of the harp where the crown rests. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones that appears as the following: (· ▫· : □ : ·◊· : □ : ·▫). It should be noted that the center stone should be rotated 180 degrees, and the square gems are not in proper proportion or location, but I am not tech-savvy enough to do that. The top of the crown consists of two bridges, one on the left and on the right, which convenes at the top center of the cross located on the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with ten beads resting upon a curved bar. The bottom portions of the crown (used to depict the inner ring where it would rest on the head) are striated. Note the design of the right arm of the harp. This design becomes less elegant as the denomination decreases. The legend reads as follows: HIBERNIA. with the date 1805 appearing below the main device and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. All letters and numbers of the legend are without flaws, except for a small raised dot appearing on the right leg of the last “A” in the legend. Like the obverse, I would estimate that the reverse retains about 80% of its original red luster.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I took my time to locate a choice and highly original example of the 1805 proof Irish Penny and I am so glad that I did. This coin is stunning in hand and if it were not for the slightest break in frost on the obverse, I think this coin would have received the coveted cameo designation. The strong contrast between the main devices and the fields paired with the fiery red luster make for an enjoyable viewing experience, but perhaps even more impressive is the fact this coin has retained its original silver-lined brass shells for well over two centuries. Thanks to NGC I can now rest assured that the shells will not be separated from the coin as they are now encapsulated in one holder. Despite the backlog of orders, staff shortages, and endless customer demands, NGC still took the time to help a small-time collector like me. In my opinion, that says a lot about the integrity of the company.
View Coin 1805 Ireland Penny S-6620 Skinner Collection IRELAND 1603-1823 PENNY 1805 Skinner Collection NGC MS 64 RB I have always admired Boulton's Irish coinage, but I have noticed that high-quality pieces are far more challenging to locate than their English counterparts. This makes sense given the difference in mintages between English and Irish coinage and the fact that Irish coins, in general, seem to be hotly contested in the marketplace. This particular example is a penny struck at the Soho Mint for circulation in Ireland. Like their English counterparts, the Irish Pence also did not bear a denomination in their legends. The size and weight of the coin told the entire story. As I have noted before, I have yet to discover an excellent reference book for varieties that even comes close to Peck's caliber. I only provide basic details in my descriptions, followed by some observations that I have made.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves and three berries tied behind his neck with a riband of 1 bow and two loose ends. The top loose end appears to intersect the loop while the bottom loose end floats freely down, and the tip barely touches the upper leftmost curl. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 square jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain with a K in roughly the center. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. all evenly spaced. This particular example is remarkably free of contact marks and is truly premium quality for the grade. A prominent die crack appears starting at the rim just above the "e" in "REX". It extends through the border bead to the top point of the upper serif of the "E" and across to the lower left leg of the "X" and bisects the bust on the left shoulder. A small degree of fining is evident on the rim, indicating high striking pressure. Otherwise, this coin is relatively free of flaws and appears to be a well-struck example.

Reverse: The reverse portrays a crowned harp with 9 strings. The left side of the harp consists of a half-clad woman; her lower half is adorned with what I describe at a mermaid-like fin. Her top half is exposed with her arms depicted as wings that make up the top part of the harp where the crown rests. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones that appears as the following: (· ˑ : · : ·◊· : · : ˑ ·). It should be noted that the center stone should be rotated 180 degrees, but I am not tech-savvy enough to do that. The top of the crown consists of two bridges, one on the left and on the right, which convenes at the top center of the cross located on the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with ten beads resting upon a curved bar. However, unlike the other example of the 1805 Irish Pence in this set, the curved bar of the right bridge is complete and does not cease to exist after the 6th bead. Also, unlike the other example, the bottom portions of the crown (used to depict the inner ring where it would rest on the head) is striated.A flaw occurs toward the top of the leftmost harp string and extends to the 3rd but does not impede the design. Note the design of the right arm of the harp. This design becomes less elegant as the denomination decreases. The legend reads as follows: HIBERNIA. with the date 1805 appearing below the main device and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. All letters and numbers of the legend are without flaws.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This is one of the nicest circulation strike 1805 Irish Penny that I have seen. Overall, the piece is well struck, dripping with luster, free of significant distractors, and retaining a good deal of red color. The subtle differences between this example and the MS-63 BN example I have in this set are also intriguing. As I noted, I am unaware of an authoritative guide to Irish copper coinage that details different varieties. It would be interesting to see the subtle differences I highlighted are of any meaningful significance. In terms of numeric grade, NGC has graded two higher ( a 65 BN and a 66 BN), and PCGS has graded only 1 65 BN. This is the only red-brown designated example at either NGC and PCGS and, as such, is a top pop in consideration of color designation. Although these pieces are often deemed "common," they are notoriously difficult to find in truly uncirculated condition and all but impossible to find with any original red color remaining. Of course, their proof counterparts are relatively abundant, and it is often a more economical choice to purchase a well-preserved proof example as opposed to a business strike. This is especially true if you are wanting a RB or RD example.
View Coin 1806 Ireland Copper Farthing S-6622 IRELAND 1603-1823 1/4P 1806 NGC MS 66 BN This piece is a marked upgrade form the PCGS MS-64 example I previously had in my collection. Oddly enough, both of the business (i.e., currency) strike specimens I have owned were nicely toned. Given their relative availability I tend to hold out for the nicest example that I can find without much fear of waiting an extended period of time before another comes up for sale. This is the most affordable of the Irish coins in this set. As such, it makes for a good starting point for someone wanting to pursue the Irish copper struck at the Soho Mint.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 9 leaves, and three berries tied behind his neck with a riband of 1 bow and one loose end that flows out to the left and points down. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 beaded jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. all evenly spaced. This example has numerous die cracks. The most notable of which can be found immediately below the bust. A small groups of flaws arise in front of George’s chin and neck giving the King the appearance of a larger large, and singular unruly beard hair. The underlying mahogany brown luster is strong and uninterrupted by any contact marks, which serves to further enhance the deep fluorescent blue tone.

Reverse: The reverse portrays a crowned harp with nine strings. The left side of the harp consists of a half-clad woman; her lower half is adorned with what I describe at a mermaid-like fin. Her top half is exposed with her arms depicted as wings that make up the top part of the harp where the crown rests. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones that appears as the following: (· · ● · · ● · · ● · ·). The top of the crown consists of two bridges, one on the left and on the right, which convene at the top center of the cross located on the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with eight beads resting upon a curved bar. The inner ring of the crown is slightly textured. Note the design of the right arm of the harp; this becomes less elegant as the denomination decreases. The legend reads as follows: HIBERNIA. with the date 1806 appearing below the primary device. All of which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. The chocolate brown reflective fields are blemish-free with the same deep florescent blue tone found on the obverse.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: As I alluded to earlier, the proof versions of this coin come up for sale very frequently. In most cases they are well preserved and have a hint of attractive toning, which is markedly absent on the business strike examples. This particular piece has developed a nice deep blue tone that blends in well with the otherwise even brown fields. Although this is an upgrade from my prior example, I sincerely doubt that a more deserving specimen will come to light. This is truly a spectacular coin in a remarkably high grade. The current specimen is a “Top Pop” at both NGC and PCGS. NGC record two others grading MS-66 BN with two other MS-66 examples recorded at PCGS.
View Coin 1805 Ireland ½ Penny S-6621 IRELAND 1603-1823 1/2P 1805 NGC MS 64 BN The Irish halfpennies are no exception to my affinity for Irish copper. Although roughly half the size of the penny, these coins are still impressive. These coins are often dubbed as common, and again, that is true for average circulated examples. For those of you wishing to build a mint state set, which would be relatively inexpensive, this may prove slightly more complicated. Irish copper, in general, is not traded nearly as often as English copper, but when it is, there are usually quite a few people to compete with. Prices are often quite inflated from the estimates provided in price guides, and one should do their research ahead of time to figure out what fair market value is on the coin.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 9 leaves and three berries tied behind his neck with a riband of 1 bow and one loose end that flows out to the left and points down. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 beaded jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain with a K in roughly the center. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. all evenly spaced. This particular example is remarkably free of contact marks for the assigned grade and possesses a very pleasing red-brown color. The top portions of several letters are weakly struck and show a lack of definition.

Reverse: The reverse portrays a crowned harp with nine strings. The left side of the harp consists of a half-clad woman; her lower half is adorned with what I describe at a mermaid-like fin. Her top half is exposed with her arms depicted as wings that make up the top part of the harp where the crown rests. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones that appears as the following: (· : · ● · : · ● · : · ● · : ·). The top of the crown consists of two bridges, one on the left and on the right, which convenes the top center of the cross located on the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with eight beads resting upon a curved bar. The inner ring of the crown is adorned by a series of small bumps to give the appearance of texture. Note the design of the right arm of the harp; this becomes less elegant as the denomination decreases. The legend reads as follows: HIBERNIA. with the date 1805 appearing below the primary device and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. The top portions of several letters and the bottom portion of the date are weakly struck and show a lack of definition.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: The color of this coin makes it a very eye-appealing. Hints of red luster dance around the protected areas of the bust and letters. In the right light, a slightly blueish green tone can be seen in the fields. Remarkably free of contact marks and unsightly carbon spots, this coin is a premium quality piece for the assigned grade. Although by no means a high grade, I am content to keep this coin in my collection with no desire to seek a higher-graded example. There are currently eleven graded MS-64 BN with 3 in higher grades at NGC alone.

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