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

Owner:  coinsandmedals
Last Modified:  1/24/2021
  
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!

KING GEORGE III
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.
1791 JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU


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. The following sections are designed to provide the necessary historical background of the tokens and medals produced at the Soho Mint and provide insight into what role they played at Soho.

Medals:

Although I wish I could provide a comprehensive overview of the medals produced at the Soho Mint, the fact of the matter is that I just started collecting them. I have a ton to learn, but what I can share with you is how they broadly fit within the context of the Soho Mint products. In other words, in this section, I aim to explore how Matthew Boulton and his successors approached the business of striking medals. To do so, I have opted to focus on the principal engraver of the Medals produced at Soho, Conrad Heinrich Küchler. Although the medals themselves are rather impressive, I have decided to forgo any discussion of them here to provide more detailed information in the listing for each piece. The majority of the information I will present in this section can be traced back to Pollard (1970). In his article, Pollard reproduced a fair amount of the correspondence between Boulton and Küchler, and it is this material has proven so invaluable to the topic at hand. Küchler's role in Soho history began in the early part of 1793, and during his 17-year career under the employment of Boulton, he produced a total of 33 medals.
1793 EXECUTION OF LOUIS XVI “FINAL FAREWELL”


In a letter dated March 13th, 1793, Boulton sets the terms of Küchler's employment, which provides us our first glimpse into how Boulton approached the medal business. In this letter, Boulton gives Küchler the option of being paid per die produced or an even portion of the profit gained from the sale of each medal Küchler engraved. Küchler agreed to the former, and he remained in London for two more years, engraving several dies for Boulton. How Küchler is compensated suggests, at least to me, that Boulton may have been less enthusiastic about producing medals than gaining coinage contracts. Although his offer to Küchler is generous, it pales compared to the concessions Boulton made to bring Droz on board. It nearly seems as if Boulton secured the help of Küchler for no other reason than to have a second skilled engraver should anything happen to Ponthon. Most of this is speculation on my behalf, but there is more to the story. In the same letter, Boulton clarifies that he has neither the time nor inclination to oversee "the minutiae of such a minute business as making medals". To this effect, Boulton makes it evident that he views producing medals as a "lesser" task compared to striking coins.
1793 BOARD OF AGRICULTURE


It seems so uncharacteristic of the overly ambitious Matthew Boulton to essentially look down on the opportunity to produce yet another exceptional Soho product. So what is the deal here? To answer this question, we must first consider what was going at the Soho Mint at the time. As a recap, Boulton had endured great expense to build his mint, pay his employees (think of all the money he spent appeasing Droz), and secure material for an English coinage contract that he was convinced was right around the corner. Boulton felt the financial weight of operating a mint that was yet to produce a coinage contract that allowed him to recoup the money he invested (Selgin, 2003). This could, in part, explain the terms Boulton offered to Küchler. Both options would ensure that Küchler had to produce something to get paid, which is a painful lesson he learned from Droz. The second option would have further reduced Boulton's financial burden by offsetting some of the initial production costs to both men. Either way, the options presented to Küchler were likely due to Boulton's financial hardships at the time. The excerpts from the archived correspondence between Küchler and Boulton provided by Pollard (1970) supports this notion. In the summer of 1795, Küchler moved to Birmingham and continued to work for Boulton while still petitioning for the money owed to him. This seems to escalate in a letter by Küchler dated January 21st, 1796, which details his work and the amount he has been paid. On this date, Küchler had completed over £250 worth of work but had barely received over £130 in compensation. The debt was eventually addressed, but it appears this was a reoccurring pattern that eventually changed how Küchler was compensated for his work.
1800 GEORGE III PRESERVED FROM ASSASSINATION


Shortly after, the terms of Küchler's employment were slightly altered in a way that seems to benefit both parties mutually. According to Pollard (1970), the new terms still afforded Küchler payment for each die he engraved, but it also provided him with a portion of the profits from selling specific medals. These terms, of course, came with some caveats. First, it distinguished between medals that were commissioned to be struck by but not sold by the Soho Mint (i.e., private accounts) and medals that were struck and subsequently sold by the Soho Mint (i.e., joint accounts). Under the new terms, Küchler would be compensated for the dies he produced for both classifications, but he would also be granted a portion of the profits for the latter category. Second, the portion of profits was not guaranteed until the total expense of production was paid for. Under the new terms, Küchler could end up owing Boulton money if the sales for the joint accounts were lackluster. The excerpt provided by Pollard (1970) provides a contemporary example of how this would work. This is an important fact to note because it underscores Boulton's desire to protect himself, the Soho Mint, and Küchler.
1800 WESTMINSTER FIRE OFFICE


Although Boulton was a generous man, he was also in the business to make money (no pun intended), so it makes sense that he would want to protect himself as much as possible. The new terms afforded him to do so but also allowed him to remain generous with Küchler should their work be successful. The new terms suggest that perhaps the business of striking and selling medals was not as lucrative as Boulton would have liked. There is evidence to suggest that this may be the case, as a large number of medals were in surplus at the Soho Mint up until its final demise in 1850. There were over 300 medals in the 1850 sale alone, and at least another couple hundred sold in 1912 from the Matthew Piers Watt Boulton collection. This, of course, also does not include the numerous pieces that were part of the James Watt Jr. Collection or the Boulton family holdings (independent of the M. P. W. Boulton collection). All of this suggests, generally speaking, that there was no shortage of supply when it came to several of the medals produced. This is even more obvious when considering that some of these medals come up for sale very frequently. For example, the 1793 Execution of Louis XVI "final farewell" medal has had over a dozen auction appearances this year alone. This is notable because it was the first medal that Küchler produced for the Soho Mint (Pollard, 1970). The fact that Küchler renegotiated his terms of employment to a salaried position after a brief leave of absence in 1802 further suggests that the business of producing medals was not the most lucrative. This may seem like a familiar argument for those of you who read my previous writing about the Soho Mint's original packaging (i.e., the silver-lined brass shells). The information provided above is a more in-depth look at one of the main arguments of that article and provides additional support for my theory about their origin.
1803 NATIONAL EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WORK


In summary, there is little doubt that the medals produced at the Soho Mint are an essential part of its history and, to some extent, account for its success. For instance, the medal celebrating the King's recovery engraved by Droz undoubtedly left a lasting impression on the Lords of the committee on coin. At the very least, this strong impression kept other competitors at bay, which allowed Boulton to secure a contract to strike regal copper. Oddly enough, there were times where the production of medal dies was the only project in progress at the mint, and without it, Boulton would have been paying his workers to do almost nothing. Beyond these factors, I imagine the craftsmanship so boldly displayed on these pieces served to bolster Matthew Boulton's reputation of providing nothing short of the best (Tungate, 2010). No matter how you choose to look at it, the fact that the medals played an integral part in the history of the Soho Mint is undeniable.

Tokens:

This part 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.

This introduction was last updated (11/3/2020).

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 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 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 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 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 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 Bronzed Proof Penny P-1122 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797SOHO P-1122 BRONZED Skinner Collection NGC PF 62 BN I sent this coin back to NGC for review, and they graciously offered to do so for free. I originally submitted this coin raw with the 11 leaves designation listed on the variety plus box. It was confirmed as such, and I did not think much of it until writing up the descriptions for this set. I looked further into the coin, and it has all of the die diagnostics for P-1122, which is a proof strike. The differences between the two are super subtle because the proof was struck using a repolished die much like that of 1133. The primary diagnostic occurs on the obverse and is appropriately described in the next section. Peck lists this coin as very scarce. As of 10/31/29, there are four of these graded at NGC, this coin, one in 63 and 2 in 64. There are currently none explicitly certified with the acknowledged variety at PCGS; however, they do exist in the non-attributed holders. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when this coin came back from NGC.

Obverse: This example is a type 4 obverse which with a small bust of George III facing right. George has a wreath of 11 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 outwards. 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 with the top right dot larger than the others. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. is contained within a sizeable broad rim.

Key Differences: The uppermost berry has a distinct stem, and numerous rust spots occur on the rim above the legend. For example, look at the “R” in GEORGIUS or the “RE” in REX.
KEY DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: This is a reverse type C, which is described by Peck as Britannia seated on a rock with large letters. Britannia is seated 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 with six incuse gunports appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. An ensign appears at the stern. The legend BRITANNIA. occurs within a large, broad rim. The date 1797 appears at the bottom of the coin. Peck notes that the waves are not crested with foam, but I have yet to understand what he is talking about.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is somewhat of an odd situation mostly because you would think it would be easy to determine a proof from a business strike. As it turns out, this can be a rather tricky task for Soho pieces. In fact, I had an in-depth discussion with one of the senior numismatists at A. H. Baldwin about this very topic. He had many more years of experience than I did and had seen coins I could only dream of, and yet he found it a difficult task at times. I am delighted that NGC was ultimately able to verify my hunch that this was a bronzed proof. Beyond the relative scarcity of the coin, it removes the financial burden normally associated with purchasing a proof 1797 Penny. This coin was purchased at a price that was extremely fair for a 10 leaves variety business strike, so I honestly could not be luckier.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Penny(Proof P-1123?) Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO Skinner Collection NGC UNC Details I will refrain from adding a Peck variety to this coin, as NGC and I disagree. I submitted this coin requesting the variety attribution for P-1122, which is a proof striking. I have a graded example in this set for your comparison. As noted, the die diagnostics between the business strike and the proof are complicated to discern, and this is where the issue arose between my opinion and that of NGC. Peck notes faint but extensive rust marks between the letters on the rim, which are present on this example. Furthermore, the rusted areas are an exact match between this example and the one already graded by NGC in this set. If this were simply a business strike, the rust marks should not be present as the die would have been used for the extent of its striking life without being stored long enough to rust. Beyond this, the hundreds of currency strikes that I have examined have had no evidence of rust on the rims. Although I ardently oppose the variety attribution, I respect NGC’s opinion and am happy to have this coin protected in their holder.

Obverse: This example is a type 4 obverse with a small bust of George III facing right. George has a wreath of 11 leaves and two berries tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. The upper loose end points outwards. 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 with the top right dot larger than the others. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. is contained within a sizeable broad rim.

Key Differences: The uppermost berry has a distinct stem, and numerous rust spots occur on the rim above the legend. For example, look at the “R” in GEORGIUS or the “RE” in REX.

Reverse: This is a reverse type C, described by Peck as Britannia seated on a rock with large letters. Britannia is seated 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 with six incuse gunports appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. An ensign appears at the stern. The legend BRITANNIA. occurs within a large, broad rim. The date 1797 appears at the bottom of the coin. Peck notes that the waves are not crested with foam, but I have yet to understand what he is talking about.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is somewhat of an odd situation mostly because you would think it would be easy to determine a proof from a business strike. As it turns out, this can be a rather tricky task for Soho pieces. In fact, I had an in-depth discussion with one of the senior numismatists at A. H. Baldwin about this very topic. He had many more years of experience than I did and had seen coins I could only dream of, and yet he found it a difficult task at times. As always, NGC’s customer service was top-notch, and I was able to communicate back and forth with the grader on the coin. Although we agreed on several points, we ultimately came to the conclusion that this was a problematic attribution and moved on. I may decide to resubmit this coin with a detailed letter justifying the attribution, but that is a task for another day. For now, I am happy that it is in a protective case.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain 10 Leaves Obverse Penny P-1132 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO NGC MS 62 BN Although not as iconic as the 1797 twopence pieces, the pence are still very popular. There are two main varieties of the currency strikes. One with ten leaves in the wreath and one with 11 leaves. The 11 leaf variety is much more scarce, but this is an example of the ten leaf variety (P-1132). These are by no means rare, but finding an appealing uncirculated example for a reasonable price can be tricky given their popularity. For those interested in starting the series, I would recommend buying this coin next after tracking down a suitable 1799 halfpence. These coins are relatively large (e.g., almost 36 mm, over 3 mm thick, and weigh an ounce), which adds to their impressive stature. Due to their size and weight, it can be tricky to find an example free of edge bumps. 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 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. Peck lists this variety as common.

Obverse: This example is a type 4 obverse with a small bust of George III facing right. George has a wreath of 10 leaves and two berries 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 ·: which varies by die. The legend GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. is contained within a sizeable, broad rim. This coin's obverse shows several contact marks, but the rims and fields are relatively clean for a circulated example of this heavy copper coin. The lovely brown color paired with the unusual "cameo" effect created by the contrast between the primary devices and the fields makes this an attractive coin, in my opinion.

Reverse: This is a reverse type C, 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. The reverse is relatively free of die cracks, but there is ample evidence of, as described by the auctioneers, "metal lapping" on the reverse.

Edge: Plain

Notes: Although this isn't the best example I have come across, I like the look of it, and I picked it up for a real bargain. I love the cartwheel coinage, so do not be surprised if I end up with several more examples of the course of the years. It is just too hard to turn down a nicely designed large copper coin from the 18th century. THIS COIN HAS SINCE BEEN SOLD.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain 10 Leaves Obverse Penny P-1132 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO 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 1797 G. Britain Contemporary Counterfeit Penny P-1110 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797SOHO 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 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1234 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO P-1234 BRONZED PATTERN NGC PROOF Details The 1799 Penny pieces mark a point of further renovation on the part of Matthew Bolton. The prior contract with the British government to strike Pence and 2 Pence coins for England nearly destroyed the Soho mint. The giant rims and thick planchet did not agree with the presses he had at the time. The dies broke often, and the machines struggled to keep pace, and production suffered. The renovation of the steam engine paired with the presses gave rise to the 2nd Soho mint that these coins would be struck in. As noted in the introduction, the designs of the coins were changed to help eliminate some of the issues from the prior contract. The rims were made thin, the fields were concaved, and the security edge was added. All of these steps helped boost production while still maintaining the integrity of the work done at the Soho Mint. This is an example of one of the numerous patterns struck at the Soho mint with the new design details. Peck notes that the British Museum secured three examples from the Roberts Collection (1808) and the Banks Collection (1818). This fact, paired with the workmanship, led Peck to classify this as an Early Soho strike. They are listed as Scarce.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right with the typical wreath of 11 leaves but in much detail than usual. The veins of the leaves can be seen branching from the center on most. The wreath is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. In keeping with the immense detail, the upper riband loop is striated horizontally (e.g., small lines embellish the areas mentioned). 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. The two center jewels of the brooch are slightly out of line. Peck also notes that a flaw shaped like a comma often occurs in the drapery just under the neckline. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). This particular example has two noticeable scratches, one protruding from the forehead to the rim, and another across the neck extending about a quarter of the way across the field in front of 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 14 leaves and no berries. A massive 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.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY


Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This coin was purchased at auction raw. The seller suggested it was a proof coin but made no effort to sell it as such. The scratches were apparent, but the eye appeal was too strong to pass up. I knew this coin would yield a details grade by NGC, but I did not want to let a 200-year-old coin to get further damaged in my collection, and I figured the best way to protect it was to have it encapsulated. After all, we are only temporary curators of these pieces, and I believe every effort should be made to preserve them for future generations. Peck notes that this piece is relatively common in relation to the other 1799 pattern halfpennies and that this likely prevented Taylor from producing restrikes. It appears that Bolton was proud of this example and struck many at the Soho Mint. A total of 14 examples have been graded by NGC and another three at PCGS. This coin has since been sold.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Proof Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1246 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO 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 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 ½ Penny P-1248 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1799SOHO Skinner Collection NGC MS 64 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.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 11 leaves 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, which is 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).

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 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” completely separated from the sea. The reverse of this coin is spectacular, and the reddish fields contrast nicely with the brown device to create what almost creates the illusion of a cameo in hand (keep in mind this is a business strike and as such a cameo would not be possible). 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.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This coin was somewhat of a gamble when I purchased it off of eBay some time ago. The seller posted very out of focus pictures of the coin in an old scuffed up cardboard 2x2 holder that was labeled with the grade XF. It was difficult to distinguish any significant details of the coin, but the color made me think that it was likely an uncirculated example. Worst case scenario, it might have been an XF coin that been harshly cleaned, but the quality of the pictures made it impossible for me to come to a definite conclusion. When I got the coin in hand, it was clear that the surfaces were original and that it was an uncirculated example. I was very pleased — this one of the most delightful examples I have seen for the assigned grade. The underlying red in the fields is intense and contrasts very well with the brown color of the devices. The fields are clean, and the coin has, in my opinion, the merits of an MS-65 example. This was also my first “+” graded coin I received back from NGC. There currently four graded MS-64+ RB at NGC with 97 in higher grades.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain 1/2 Penny Bronzed Restrike P-1258 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO P-1258 BRONZED RESTRIKE NGC PF 64 BN This is by far my favorite observe design of the entire Halfpenny series. In my opinion, nothing says “I am a king” quite as well as a large crown and a determined portrait. I wish this had been the design adopted, but given that the designs had to be approved by the King it appears that he did find the portrait as appealing as I do. A more modest bust was adopted, and this design was employed for the majority of the proofs, patterns, and restrikes of the 1799 Halfpenny. Peck (1964) classifies this coin as a rare restrike. Although this variety is relatively rare to the rest of the series, it appears that a few examples come up for sale every year. My affection for the design seems to be well shared as the examples depicting the King adorned with a large crown often command significant premiums over other more relatively rare verities. I assumed that obtaining an example of this variety would be a stretch for my budget, but this example came at a time of modest prosperity for me.

Obverse: Peck (1964) classifies this as a “large crowned bust”. Essentially, the obverse depicts King George III facing right (a notable deviation from the normal orientation) adorned by a very large crown. The crown is highly detailed, and for the sake of parsimony, I will only describe the portions of the highest interest. For instance, the lis on either side of the inner cross have been slightly altered from the original dies prepare by Kuchler and now appear more angular. The inner center cross has also been retouched, and in the process, a substantial portion of the pearl immediately above it is missing. Hair flows from under the crown, and a group of large curls appears just above his ear. His hair flows down the back of his neck and rests on his shoulder. A small lock of hair can be seen immediately under the draped bust. Unlike the numerous other 1799 Halfpennies, there is no jewel to catch the folds of the drapery. A very large “K.” is present on the lowest fold of the drapery, and on this example, a faint die crack can be seen extending through this fold in the drapery and extending to the edge of the hair curl resting on his shoulder. It appears Taylor retouched this obverse design, and according to Peck (1964), Taylor added the legend to this die. The legend “GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX” is contained with a thin raised rim and a toothed border.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: By most accounts, the reverse design of this variety is very similar to the other employed in this series; however, Peck (1964) notes several deviations. Like most 1799 Halfpennies, 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. The middle prong point to the left limb of the “N” in “BRITANNIA”. To her left is an oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored). Peck (1964) notes that a thin raised line appears around the shield, but is incomplete toward the bottom right of the shield. Under magnification, this almost gives the appearance of the shield being partially dug into the ground. The space between the butt of the spear and shield is almost devoid of detail except for four small horizontal lines. The mintmark “SOHO” occurs on a rock just below the shield, and a series of three raised dots in a triangular shape appears on the rock behind the shield. A 3 masted warship with a poop (i.e., a sub-deck above the main deck) appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. The sea is weak in places and shows very little detail. Peck notes that the original ship has been polished off and replaced with a very crudely engraved one. This is very apparent, and comparing this ship with those engraved by Kutchler makes this one look like something out of a cartoon. Peck also notes that there are no gun ports, and an irregular lump (i.e., raised bump) occurs under the stern. The sea is curved, and a large flaw (i.e., a die crack) occurs from the bottom of the sea extending through Britannia’s foot and eventually tracing the edge of the sea and concluding in almost equal height to the foremast. The date “1799” occurs just under the curved sea with the “1” completely separated from the sea. Two large die cracks occur on both sides of the last “9” in the date. The legend “BRITANNIA” occurs within a thin, raised rim and toothed borders. The numerous rust spots throughout the fields and the weak spots in the drapery and sea attest to the fact that this a restrike made from heavily repolished and altered dies. The reverse is very appealing, with a slightly subdued reddish-brown color.
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: Wow, this is a really coin. It may even be one of my favorites and is certainly a coin I had wanted to add to my collection for some time. I wish I were able to share it right after I purchased it, but the holder looked seemed to have been used a hockey puck, which made photographing the coin very difficult. I have done my best to polish the holder to remove the numerous scratches, but I will eventually need to send this coin back to NGC for a fresh holder. At some point, I would love to add the other three varieties that utilize a similar obverse design. For now, I have posted the images with the scoffed up slab. Currently, there are 19 examples at NGC with six in higher grades and only two examples over at PCGS (i.e., 21 total graded examples at both major TPGs). Given the small number of certified examples compared with the number of appearances at auction, it seems logical to conclude that the majority of these are the same coins trading hands.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Restrike Farthing P-1281 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1799 Soho P-1281 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 1805 G. Britain Bronzed Restrike Pattern ½ Penny P-1309 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1805SOHO P-1309 COPPER RESTRIKE PCGS PF 64 Brown This coin is erroneously labeled as a Penny when it is, in fact, a halfpenny (30.5 mm and not 35.5 mm). The ‘Britanniarum” pieces are some of the more exciting restrikes made by Taylor. The obverse portrait used on these coins is different from their Irish counterparts, and the reverse dies are retouched from those used to strike some of the rarer coins struck at the Soho Mint. This was my first “English” coin bearing the portrait meant for the Irish coinage. Peck lists this as Very Scarce.

Obverse: The observe depicts George III facing right with the customary wreath tied behind the neck with a riband with one loop and two loose ends. A decent-sized flaw (i.e., raised lump of metal) occurs at the top of the uppermost part of the loop, and another similar-sized flaw occurs just below and to the left. The curls of the hair hang behind the neck as well as to the side and touch the left shoulder. A brooch of 8 square jewels catches the drapery. Kuchler’s initial (i.e., K) followed by three dots is on the lowest fold of the drapery. Rust spots occur on the neck and jaw as well as a noticeable rust spot between “G” and “IUS” in the legend. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and a beaded border and reads as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX.
KEY OBVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Reverse: The reverse depicts Britannia seated left on a rock surrounding by waves. She wears close-fitting drapery, and her right arm is extended, holding an olive-branch of 10 leaves and four berries. Her lowered left-hand holds a trident. An oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. The three-masted warship described as “stubby” appears in the sea before her. Most notably, this ship looks more squared and lacks some of the detail we would typically see on an original Soho piece. Immediately under the right side of the shield, the word SOHO appears and slightly overlaps the shield. The K usually present to denote Kuchler’s initial is missing. Peck speculates that the removable of the initial from the reverse was an attempt by Taylor to create a variety. The waves below are described as “showing signs of being crested with foam”. This refers to the slight detailing of the wave crests as opposed to crisp lines. Placed even further down, below the curved sea is the date “1805”. The 5 in the date has a noticeable defect that bisects the horizontal bar protrudes to the top of the curve. The legend which is contained within a thin raised outer rim and a beaded border is as follows: BRITANNIARUM (evenly spaced).
KEY REVERSE DIAGNOSTICS FOR THIS VARIETY

Edge: Plain

Notes: I love the combination of the Irish obverse portrait with the English reverse. This is mostly due to my partiality for the Irish coins struck at the Soho Mint. This was somewhat of an impulse buy. I had just lost an auction that I wanted, and this was on my watched list. With the “new found” funds, I was able to secure this example for my collection. It has been described as “an even brown representative with subdued luminosity to the surfaces and hardly a mark visible”. This description hits the head on the nail. The color is exactly what you would want, and the fields are free from any distracting marks. This coin is currently tied with one other example for the finest graded at PCGS, with only 1 graded higher at NGC. Previously part of the Lake County Collection.This coin has since been sold.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1326 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1806SOHO 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 Penny P-1342 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1806SOHO 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 Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1370 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1806SOHO P-1370 BRONZED PCGS PF 65 Brown I am somewhat amused by how I acquired this coin. It seems to have slipped through the cracks of an auction. It has all of the hallmarks that typically lead to bidding wars. Although I am not a plastic collector, the coin is housed an old green label holder that was used from January 1990 to February 1993. The holder itself is likely older than I am and yet mostly looks brand new. The part that matters is that this piece is a real gem. The fields are evenly toned, and the details are sharp. The only blemish occurs on the obverse between “R” and “G” in GEORGIUS. Despite this, I was the sole bidder. Peck does list this variety as a late Soho piece and denotes it as common, suggesting that a good number were struck. Although Peck’s rarity scale is a good starting place, one must remember the collections he had at his disposal.

For instance, although this coin is listed as common, I can only find three auction records for this variety (my 2019 purchase, 2017, and 2005). The other issue is that both NGC and PCGS will only attribute the variety is the fee is paid, which leads to the complicated description of “Bronzed”. This is entirely too vague because there are no less than eight different bronzed varieties for this year and denomination alone. To illustrate this point, NGC only has 1 example attributed as P-1370 but has 11 “Bronzed” 1806 halfpennies in their census. Similarly, PCGS has none attributed as P-1370 and also has 11 classified as “Bronzed”. The lack of clarification only serves to further muddy the waters. Peck lists this coin as common, and given the lack of clarity on behalf of most sources, I suppose I have to agree, although auction records seemingly do not support that conclusion.

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. A brooch of 8 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The eighth or topmost jewel is noticeably smaller than the others. 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 followed by a dot, both of which are raised. 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.

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 uppermost leaf and two berries 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 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 incuse gunports and a very long pennant at the mainmast. 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”.

Edge: Grained

Notes: This is just a spectacular piece, and I am thrilled to have it in my collection. The even mahogany brown color paired with the crisp details and reflective fields makes for an impressive piece. This example is a testament to the high-quality pieces that Soho Mint was equipped to produce. As noted earlier, speculating on the actual census of this variety is complicated, but I guess that this variety is not as common as Peck might suggest.This coin has since been sold.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Proof ½ Penny P-1371 Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1806SOHO Peck-1371 NGC PF 63 BN Although this is not the rarest variety of the series, the fact that it has remained paired with its original silver-lined bronzed shell casing makes it somewhat unique. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Matthew Boulton was a man of many talents. In addition to striking some of the highest quality pieces the world had ever seen at the time, he also produced numerous trinkets and novelties that were highly sought after by the upper class. It should be no surprise that he was able to put his substantial talent to use to preserve further the coins he produced. Matthew Boulton took great pride in the proof coins he created, and on special occasions, he would make tightly fitted pressed silver-lined brass cases (often called shells) to house them in. These particular example has remained paired with their original shells for at least the last 200 years. It is exceedingly difficult to find specimens still paired with the original shells. Part of this is because, without the context of the coin, the shells are nondescript and have little meaning. However, when paired with the coin, the shells attest to the detail and attention paid on behalf of Boulton. The majority of the Soho pieces that have been sold paired with their original shells came from the sales of either the Boulton or Watt family holdings. Although it would be enticing to say these coins came from either of those collections, I can make no claim in one direction or the other. These pieces were described at auction as part of the Walker Collection. The following is the excerpt from the auction catalog:

“The following coins are part of the estate of the late Miss Pamela Joan Walker, daughter of Robert Cecil James Walker. Her father’s collection was accumulated in the 1920s and ’30s, his enthusiasm for coins, perhaps being inspired by his duties with the Midland Bank Ltd. in the City of London. Details of many of the coins are noted in his meticulous manuscript on individual mini-envelopes, reflecting his researches as a member of a north London numismatic society. After his death in 1938, the collection was retained intact by his daughter.”

His collection was assembled sometime before the bulk of the Boulton and Watt collections came up for sale, and as such, it is unclear where Mr. Walker obtained this piece from. To any extent, I am very proud to have this coin in my collection. Peck lists this variety as scarce. As of 11/18/2019, this is there are two other (both graded higher) at NGC and no specific examples recorded at PCGS.

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. Excluding the obverse spot, the obverse fo this coin is beautiful.

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: With the exception of the slightly distracting spot behind George III’s head, this coin is very pleasing in hand. As expected for Soho proof strikes, this coin is boldly struck, emphasizing some of the most minute details. The quality of the strike is impressive, but when paired with the deeply-mirrored watery chestnut brown surfaces and hints of purple and neon blue toning, the coin pops out at the viewer. Taken these physical characteristics alongside the silver-lined Soho Mint shells makes for quite an impression when viewing the coin in hand. I wrote this part while the coin was at NGC for grading, and now that I have the coin in hand, I am once again bewildered by the magnificent toned and deeply mirrored fields. This coin nothing short of spectacular.

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. I came to NGC as a humble collector with a simple goal of preserving what I thought was an exciting piece of history. I wanted the shells to be preserved alongside the coin so that there was no risk of the shells being lost. This request was complicated and created a series of unique and challenging obstacles, mainly the use of a multi-coin holder that was not designed to accommodate my request. To my surprise, although in hindsight, I should not have been given the level of service I have experienced, NGC was accommodating and worked diligently to fulfill my request. Now, thanks to the dedication and hard work of NGC, the unique history told by the silver-lined Soho Mint shells will be preserved alongside this coin for future generations to enjoy. I could not be happier with how this turned out. I want to personally thank Mr. Scott Heller and the entire NGC staff, who helped make this wishful idea a reality.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain 1/2 Penny Copper Proof P-1371 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1806SOHO 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 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike ½ Penny P-1383 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1807SOHO 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 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 was very proud of his Soho Mint and the coins that he struck. This lead him to create his collection of specimens that were often housed in tight-fitting silver-brass lined shells. These specimens were no doubt some of the most spectacular examples of the pieces he struck. The current coin is an example of a very scrace variety of an 1806 farthing from his personal collection. These coins were passed down through the generations after the Soho Mint’s founder passed away in 1809. His predecessors continued to add to Boulton’s collection, as made evident by the numerous Taylor restrikes attributed to the family holdings. This particular example is missing the silver-lined brass shells that were almost certainly separated from 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. This marks only the fourth coin in my collection that I can attribute to either Boulton or Watt family collections, and as such, it is a coveted treasure. 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 1806 G. Britain Proof Farthing P-1391 Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 Soho Peck-1391 NGC PF 64 BN This description is a near replication of that from the ½ Penny paired with the original shells. Although this is not the rarest variety of the series, the fact that it has remained paired with its original silver-lined bronzed shell casing makes it somewhat unique. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Matthew Boulton was a man of many talents. In addition to striking some of the highest quality pieces the world had ever seen at the time, he also produced numerous trinkets and novelties that were highly sought after by the upper class. It should be no surprise that he was able to put his substantial talent to use to preserve further the coins he produced. Matthew Boulton took great pride in the proof coins he created, and on special occasions, he would make tightly fitted pressed silver-lined brass cases (often called shells) to house them in. These particular example has remained paired with their original shells for at least the last 200 years. It is exceedingly difficult to find specimens still paired with the original shells. Part of this is because, without the context of the coin, the shells are nondescript and have little meaning. However, when paired with the coin, the shells attest to the detail and attention paid on behalf of Boulton. The majority of the Soho pieces that have been sold paired with their original shells came from the sales of either the Boulton or Watt family holdings. Although it would be enticing to say these coins came from either of those collections, I cannot claim one direction or the other. These pieces were described at auction as part of the Walker Collection. The following is the excerpt from the auction catalog:

“The following coins are part of the estate of the late Miss Pamela Joan Walker, daughter of Robert Cecil James Walker. Her father’s collection was accumulated in the 1920s and ’30s, his enthusiasm for coins, perhaps being inspired by his duties with the Midland Bank Ltd. in the City of London. Details of many of the coins are noted in his meticulous manuscript on individual mini-envelopes, reflecting his researches as a member of a north London numismatic society. After his death in 1938, the collection was retained intact by his daughter.”

His collection was assembled sometime before the bulk of the Boulton and Watt collections came up for sale, and as such, it is unclear where Mr. Walker obtained this piece from. To any extent, I am very proud to have this coin in my collection. Peck lists this variety as rare. As of 11/18/2019, this is the only graded example at NGC, and there are none graded by PCGS.

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse. Peck notes this obverse portraying portrait one, which is distinct from two in that the whiskers above the ear are detailed with incuse lines. Furthermore, the two lowest leaves are overlapped by a strand of hair. 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 lowest loop of the rie-band is detached and does not form a perfect loop. 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 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 appearing at the bottom 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 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).

Edge: Grained

Notes: Although the pictures do not do this coin justice, it is an absolute stunner in hand. It is very well struck, and as such, the details are incredibly sharp and crisp. Beyond the strike characteristics, the main devices pop off of the chocolate brown surfaces that would make any true copper collector a little weak at the knees. Although not evident in the pictures, the devices of the obverse and reverse are accented with blueish purple undertones. In hand, this coin is truly eye candy. The coin by itself is impressive, but when presented alongside the original Soho shells, it leaves little to nothing to be desired for. Just imagine the stories this little coin could tell if it could talk! This coin has found a forever home, and I only hope that someday I can pass it along to my kids if my wife and I are ever fortunate enough to them.

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. I came to NGC as a humble collector with a simple goal of preserving what I thought was an exciting piece of history. I wanted the shells to be preserved alongside the coin so that there was no risk of the shells being lost. This request was complicated and created a series of unique and challenging obstacles, mainly the use of a multi-coin holder that was not designed to accommodate my request. To my surprise, although in hindsight, I should not have been given the level of service I have experienced, NGC was accommodating and worked diligently to fulfill my request. Now, thanks to the dedication and hard work of NGC, the unique history told by the silver-lined Soho Mint shells will be preserved alongside this coin for future generations to enjoy. I could not be happier with how this turned out. I want to personally thank Mr. Scott Heller and the entire NGC staff, who helped make this wishful idea a reality.
View Coin 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike Farthing P-1403 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1807 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 1793 Bermuda Penny Skinner Collection BERMUDA 1P 1793 NGC MS 63 BN A brief introduction to the 1793 Bermuda Penny

I had the opportunity to acquire an example of a 1793 Bermuda Penny, which is a highly sought after and particularly rare issue. In doing a little research before its arrival, I stumbled upon an excellent article written by Mark A. Sportack (2001). For those of you who wish to learn more about this one-year type coin, his article is an invaluable asset.

Most of you are probably familiar with the modern coinage of Bermuda, such as the 1970 coinage or the odd triangle-shaped collector’s coins issued in the recent past; however, you are likely much less aware of their earlier coinage. Like most other British colonies, one might assume that Regal coinage was issued in a sporadic fashion that provides a handful of examples to collect. This assumption, however, would be incorrect. In fact, the 1793 Penny would be the first Regally sanctioned coinage issued in Bermuda during its first three centuries under English control. Sportack (2001)discusses the numerous explanations of why this might have been in his article. He notes that coins were likely issued as a commemorative to mark Bermuda’s settlement of a capital city (i.e., Hamilton). Looking over various historical accounts, it appears that this was a hotly debated topic amongst Bermudians, and therefore was deserving of a celebratory coinage. Sportack (2001) argues that this was likely proposed to George III to increase the chances of the new coinage being approved. This seems logical given the Monarch’s resistance towards issuing copper coinage despite the shortage of low denomination coins even in England at the time.

Eventually, the coinage was approved, and permission was granted to use the King’s effigy on the pieces; however, the burden fell on Bermuda and not the crown to acquire the materials needed and secure a contract with a Mint to produce the coinage. The Royal mint would play no part in their final production. Bermuda contracted John Brickwood of London to act as their agent, and Brickwood contacted Boulton on November 8th, 1792 (Sportack, 2001; Doty, 1998). Boulton replied the next day, and as Sportack (2001) points out seems to suggest that he has dies ready-made for use. Looking at the obverse design, it is clear that the design used is some rendition of George III’s effigy designed by Droz. This obverse design was employed on numerous pattern Halfpennies struck in an attempt by Boulton to secure a contract to strike regal English copper coinage. The reverse design is new to me, but Sportack (2001) points out that it is likely attributable to the work of Noel-Alexandre Ponthon. I am not nearly as familiar with his work as I am that of Kuchler and Droz, but if the reverse design is his, then he was quite talented. The idea of recycling old designs is something that would occur again with the coinage of the Bahamas in 1806. This process served to keep Boulton’s expenses down.

Like most of the pieces struck by Boulton, not to his fault, there was a lengthy delay between initial talks and actual production. A total of 100 specimens had been sent to Bermuda on May 9th, 1793, but over a month later, there was no response back from Bermuda. It would not be until April of 1794 that the final products would make their way into circulation. Although the actual mintage figures for the 1793 Bermuda coinage is a mystery, most estimates fall in a range from 70,000 to 83, 589 pieces. According to several records, it appears that this coinage disappeared from the Island by 1823, and no effort was made to seek another contract.

Many of you are probably wondering why these pieces are so rare today. A mintage of 80,000 or so would likely ensure a decent amount of well-preserved survivors; however, this is clearly not the case. Finding a well-preserved example is no easy feat, and a quick trip over to the Heritage archives confirms this with just 24 sold examples in Mint state since 2009. We can bump this number up to 29 if we include AU examples. Even the TPG data confirm this with only 37 Mint state examples at NGC and 17 at PCGS. So what gives, why did so few mint state examples survive? One potential explanation is that a large amount were melted down as the intrinsic value of the metal quickly exceeded the declared value of the coin. Sportack (2001) provides some evidence that large numbers of these pieces were exported to Spain for this very reason, and perhaps an equally large number were melted to meet domestic metal needs to produce products that were otherwise not economically viable to ship to Bermuda. To this extent, the mintage figure becomes irrelevant as it would likely have little to no bearing on the number of well-preserved examples left for collectors today. THIS COIN HAS SINCE BEEN SOLD
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 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 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 1805 Ireland Penny S-6620 Skinner Collection IRELAND 1603-1823 PENNY 1805 NGC MS 63 BN Although not an English coin, it appears as though Boulton took a great deal of pride in fulfilling the contract for Irish pennies, halfpennies, and farthings. As you may recall, this was the contract that delayed the start of his 3rd and the final striking of English regal copper. This is an example of a Pence coin produced at the Soho mint. I have a personal weakness for Irish copper in general, but it is my humble opinion that coinage struck at the Soho mint is bar far the most beautiful. I have yet to discover an excellent reference book for varieties that even comes close to the caliber of Peck, and as such, 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 has a few scattered contact marks across the device and fields, but it premium quality for the grade. A small and very faint die crack appears starting at the horizontal bar of the “G” in GEORGIUS and extends to the back of the “E”. 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 10 beads resting upon a curved bar; however, the curved bar of the right bridge is incomplete and ceases to exist after the 6th bead. No part of the crown 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: As I said before, I have a weakness for Irish copper and very few pieces sum it up as well as a large copper penny! Except for a few carbon spots on the reverse, this coin has a light brown cholate color and relatively few contact marks. The luster is somewhat subdued but gives the coin a very unique appearance that I am not able to describe. The bold strike allows for the observation of tiny details such as the hairlines on George’s head or the intricate details of the mermaid-like fin on the half-clad lady. Overall this coin has great eye appeal and exudes the type of character that I have so diligently strived to include in this collection. Beginner collectors should note that these pieces are often dubbed as easy to find and that may be true for average circulated pieces, but finding a true uncirculated example for a reasonable price is a beast of different nature. This is generally true of most Irish copper (except for the Wood’s Hibernia coinage which is a conversation based saved for later) and one will be hard-pressed to find a decent example in any meaningful amount even in the largest auction houses catalogs. Also a note of warning about price guides. Although they can provide a baseline measure of value they are essentially useless. The data is typically old and prices are often deflated due to the limited auction appearances. I would suggest that you do your own research on current selling prices and be cognizant of the fact that what sold for $300 in 2012-15 may very well be a $600-800 coin now. There are currently 2 graded MS-63 with 4 in higher grades at NGC.
View Coin 1805 Ireland 1/2 Penny Copper Engrailed Edge Proof Skinner Collection IRELAND 1603-1823 1/2P 1805 COPPER ENGRAILED EDGE NGC PF 64 BN CAMEO This is one of my first purchases from a London based auction house that has quickly become one of my favorite places to shop. I visited this shop in person when I was there this past summer (2019). The lady I spoke to was extremely friendly, and we had a great conversation about circulated patterns. I knew going into their office the type of inventory they had and that at best, I would only be able to afford the “lower-end” of their inventory. I was open to the dealer about my budget, and she was very enthusiastic and took the time to show me coins that were five and sometimes even six times my total budget. It was one of the most enjoyable coin browsing experiences I had. Although I walked out empty-handed, I took note of their excellent service and made a point to purchase something from their upcoming auction. In true European style, this coin was purchased raw. I saved up a few other submissions and got this one over to NGC. Needless to say, I am very pleased with the grade! These pieces, in particular, are exceedingly rare with a cameo designation.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 8 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. An odd hooked shaped curl facing upward appears on the far end of the hair curl just above the ear. A brooch of 6 beaded jewels catches the drapery on the right shoulder. The drapery is a bit more detailed than that on some of the English Halfpennies of the same date. This is most noticeable on the shoulder just above the lowest fold. In particular there are a series lines that protrude from the upper fold of the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain with a K in roughly the center; however, unlike the business strikes there is no dot following the “K”. 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 is a very well struck and beautifully preserved specimen. The pictures do not portray this, but the darker areas are actually neon blue. I have yet to figure out how to use axial lighting to fully capture toning.

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: (· · · ● · : · ● · : · ● · · ·). This too is a notable difference from the business strikes, as the series of jewels closest to the outer band of the crown only contain three gems in a triangular shape as opposed to four gems in a diamond shape. 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; however, the curved bar of both seems to at the last bead and does not make contact with the cross. The inner ring of the crown is plain. 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 date has no noticeable flaws.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This marks the first 18th-century copper piece that I have submitted to receive the cameo designation. As noted, it is exceedingly rare to find an example with cameo contrast. As if the cameo designation was not enough, this coin is also beautifully toned on both sides. As I am sure you have already figured out, I have an affinity for blue-toned copper. This coin happens to have neon blue and green toning along the edges, which further contrasts against the frosted main devices. Overall this is a breathtaking example of a scarce coin.
View Coin 1805 Ireland ½ Penny S-6621 Skinner Collection IRELAND 1603-1823 1/2P 1805 Skinner Collection NGC MS 63 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. As I noted for the Penny, 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 of 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 10 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, followed by a massive spate and a dot (K .). 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. A slightly noticeable die crack at the bottom right of the “O” in GEORGIUS and extends partially into the field form a hook-like appearance. The tops of III and D:G 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; however, the curved bar of both seems to at the last bead and does not make contact with the cross. The inner ring of the crown is slightly striated. A flaw occurs at the arch of the half-clad lady’s back and extends down the start of her lower body and protrudes out nearly to the 4th harp string. This flaw slightly impedes the design. 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. A die crack can be seen that extends through the “E” towards the rim. Another die crack runs along the top of “RNI”. The date has no noticeable flaws.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: The color of this coin, paired with the strong strike and bold details, make for a very eye appealing coin. 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 five graded MS-63 BN with 13 in higher grades at NGC alone.
View Coin 1806 Ireland Copper-Bronzed Engrailed Edge Proof Farthing S-6622 (KM-146.1b) IRELAND 1603-1823 1/4P 1806 ENGRAILED EDGE BRONZED NGC PF 64 BN Collecting the proof Irish halfpennies and farthings struck at the Soho is somewhat more complicated than other areas. This mostly because, like most other Irish copper, these coins do not come up to auction for reasonable prices very often, and there are numerous types. Spink only lists a handful of the most prevalent types, but countless other examples exist. The edge type can be a critical diagnostic for these pieces. As I mentioned before, I lack a Peck equivalent reference book for Irish coins, and the majority of what I have to state here is just my observations without much in the way of verified information from someone like Peck. I will say, however, that proof farthings seem to be more prevalent than their halfpenny counterparts.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 11 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. A small flaw occurs on the neck. A minor hair-like defect occurs in the field behind the bow. This example is free of any contact marks, and the legend is fully struck with no die breaks. The deeply mirrored fields are highly glossy and are a rich chocolate brown. Red luster dances around the protected areas of the letters, bust, and the hair-like flaw. This is an exceptional example of a bronzed proof Irish Farthing.

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; however, the three beads closest to the cross appear more tooth-like than beaded on both sides. The inner ring of the crown is slightly striated. No flaw occurs under the arch of the harp. 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 and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. Except for a carbon spot under the right side of the harp, this coin is immaculate. The fields are highly reflective, and the color is even brown.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This coin is the epitome of what you would expect from a proof piece struck at the Soho Mint. The details are bold and pop out against the mirrored fields. The craftsmanship allows the observer to see leaf veins and tiny hair details. The red luster paired with the chocolate drown color of the deeply-mirrored fields is beautiful. The reverse is just as splendid as the obverse. This is currently the only graded example at NGC, and I was unable to verify this, but there may be none at PCGS.
View Coin 1806 Ireland Bronzed Plain Edge Proof Farthing S-6622 IRELAND 1603-1823 1/4P 1806 PLAIN EDGE RESTRIKE PCGS PF 64 Brown This one of the odder pieces I have in my collection solely because of the imperfection in the planchet that gives the appearance of George wearing a black mask covering his eyes. I like to call this the black bandit proof farthing. As I mentioned earlier, collecting Irish proof copper can be somewhat complicated for me because I lack an authoritative guide book. This paired with the numerous edge variates restrike coins makes it very difficult to assemble anything resembling completeness. Although not labeled as such, this coin is unmistakably a bronzed piece.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 11 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. Several small flaws occur on the neck. Two imperfections that appear as parallel lines arise between the “U” and “S” of GEORGIUS. This example is free of any contact marks, and the legend is fully struck with no die breaks. The mirrored fields are highly glossy and are a rich chocolate brown. Except for George’s mask and a small spot behind his head, this coin is blemish-free.

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; however, the three beads closest to the cross appear more tooth-like than beaded on both sides. The inner ring of the crown is plain. Several small flaws occur behind the half-clad lady’s back and the 1st harp string. 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 and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. Except for a tiny carbon spot in front of the lady, the reverse is blemish-free. Numerous rust spots occur under the date close to the beaded border and extend up to “NIA”. The fields are highly reflective, and the color is even brown.

Edge: Plain

Notes: I like the odd look of this coin. It does look as though George is a bandit which is all the more fitting given the theme of this set! The reflective brown fields contrast nicely with the slightly frosted devices. The details of this coin are notably less defined than the details on the previously described farthing. Currently, there are ten graded PR-64BN with only one higher at PCGS and only two at NGC, both of which are graded PF-63BN. This coin has since been sold.
1806 Ireland Copper Proof Farthing S-6622 IRELAND 1603-1823 1/4P 1806 ENGRAILED EDGE This is an example of a copper proof Irish farthing, which is made apparent by the lack of a grainy like surface in the devices. This was the first proof Irish farthing I purchased and nearly marked the start of my Irish coin collecting journey. It housed in an old white ANACS holder, and it will likely remain there until it is no longer part of my collection. Given that the holder fits tightly around the edge of the coin, I have no way of telling what the edge looks like.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 11 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. Several small flaws occur on the neck. This example is free of any contact marks, and the legend is fully struck with no die breaks. The mirrored fields are a rich chocolate brown with hints of green and neon blue toning toward the bottom part of the field.

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; however, the three beads closest to the cross appear more tooth-like than beaded on both sides. The inner ring of the crown is plain. Numerous small flaws occur throughout the entire reverse of the coin. 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 and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. The chocolate brown color reflective fields are blemish-free with a hint of neon blue and purple toning.

Edge: Unknown

Notes: Without knowing what type of edge the coin has, it would be challenging to determine what type it is; however, it is clear that it has not been bronzed. The subtle toning on both sides is intriguing, although any further development is unlikely due to the encapsulation. The coin is very eye-appealing, and the mystery of the edge captures the imagination. The details on this piece are more boldly defined than that of the one above. There are currently a total of 4 of these graded at ANACS, 1 in PF-63, 2 in this grade, and 1 in PF-64 RB.
View Coin 1806 Ireland Copper Farthing S-6622 IRELAND 1603-1823 1/4P 1806 PCGS MS 64 Brown This is an example of a business (i.e., currency) strike farthing produced at the Soho Mint. This coin marks the start of my Irish copper coin collecting journey and only barely proceeds the proof farthing described earlier. The currency strike pieces are by far easier to find than the proofs; however, finding an eye-appealing mint state example is not always easy. They are relatively common, but the majority of the survivors are well-circulated examples. This is the most affordable of the Irish coins in this set and, as such, would make a good starting point for someone wanting to pursue Irish copper.

Obverse: George III faces right, his head adorned with a wreath of 11 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. One of the largest protrudes from the tip of the bust to the border, and another occurs from the forehead to the border. A smaller yet visible die crack occurs from the bottom of the right shoulder through the letter “G” in GEORGIUS and extends to the “E”. A small groups of flaws arise in front of George’s chin and neck giving the King the appearance of an unruly beard. The underlying mahogany brown luster is strong and uninterrupted by any contact marks and enhanced by a 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 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 plain. 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 and is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. The chocolate brown color reflective fields are blemish-free with the same deep florescent blue tone found on the obverse.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: It is not very often that a business trike coin develops such a deep blue tone. These pieces, in my opinion, are exceptional and noteworthy. Although relatively inexpensive, this coin’s eye appeal land it in my box of 20. If ever given a chance to acquire another example with similar eye appeal, I would happily do so in any grade that fits within my budget. This is truly a spectacular coin. PCGS currently has 4 in MS-64, with eight graded higher. NGC reports 2 in Ms-64 with 7 in higher grades.
View Coin 1813 Isle of Man 1/2 Penny Copper Proof ISLE OF MAN 1709-1860 1/2P 1813 COPPER NGC PF 65 BN Although I have appreciated the design of the Isle of Man coin struck at the Soho Mint, I never really intended to add an example to my collection. This coin, however, was the exception. Perhaps it was the fact this coin is fully struck, or maybe it was the overall eye appeal, but I found myself placing a last-minute bid and winning. I bought this coin raw, and while the seller's pictures were decent quality, they were a bit out of focus. The seller’s images depicted a colorfully toned choice proof coin, but we all know that pictures can be misleading. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in the mail, and now I found myself wanting to complete the Isle of Man series. This is a temptation that I must subdue for the time being, but I fully intend to revisit the issue when more funds come available in the future.

Obverse: The obverse design of the Isle of Man pieces struck at the Soho Mint closely mimic that of the 1797 Penny and Halfpenny issues. The design depicts a draped bust of King George III facing right. Much like its English counterparts, he is adorned with a wreath of ten leaves and three berries. The attention to detail is very noticeable within this design. Much like the P-1234 variety of the 1799 British Halfpenny, this example shows the intricate details in the leaves, such as individual veins and branching connections. This attention to detail is also highly prevalent when comparing the hair detail on this example to that of the business strike examples of the same type. Of note is that the upper-most leaf and the two leaves just above the ear are overlapped by hair. The wreath terminates in a single bow and one loose end which down and outward toward the rim. A group of three large curls falls on this right shoulder, and a smaller curl rests on his left shoulder. A clasp of four jewels catches the drapery. The lowest of which is irregularly shaped and slightly larger than the other three. The lowest fold of the drapery is striated and contains a series of circles ○·○, which is a notable deviation from other Soho products that bore Kuchler’s initial (i.e., K) on the lowest fold of the drapery. It should also be noted that the King’s lips are parted and seem to an oddly shaped end that appears a lot like a sideways “7”. The incuse legend “GEORGIVS III · D: G · REX.” is contained within the broad raised rims. This particular example is sharply struck and free of any imperfections (i.e., stopped up letters, die cracks, etc.). The color on this coin is very appealing, with deeply mirrored fields and an underlying reddish-orange tone paired with hints of purple and blue.

Reverse: The reverse design on this coin is a significant departure from the English coinage struck at the Soho Mint. The primary device is a triskele, which consists of the three Manx legs. I do not know enough about the history behind this symbol to include any historical details, but I will do my best to describe its appearance on this coin. The symbol consists of three legs. All joined together by a central series of lines. Each leg appears to be armored and with a spur affixed on each foot. A series of ten round rivets are depicted on the lower side of the thigh, and a set of 21 round rivets on the top side of the thigh. A series of 11 armor plates cover the thighs. The calves are shielded with two plates of armor separated at the middle and pieced together by five round rivets (two closest to the shin and three toward the back of the leg). The incuse legend “STABIT QVOCVNQVE IECERIS” is contained within the broad raised rim. Much like the obverse, this example is well struck and has the same colorful tones as the obverse. Paired together, this makes for a very eye appealing coin.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is a super impressive coin. My images are lackluster and do not do this coin justice. The colors are much more brilliant in hand, and the luster is exceptionally strong. Overall, this is one of the nicest, if not the nicest, example of this particular year and denomination that I have seen. I would be hard-pressed to find another example with equal eye appeal. This has quickly become one of my favorite new additions.
View Coin 1806 Bahamas Plain Edge Proof Restrike Penny BAHAMAS PENNY 1806 RESTRIKE PCGS PF 63 Brown Although not truly a British coin, it does depict the bust of George III and was struck using dies from the Soho mint. I admittedly have not done much research on this piece yet, and I am unsure if this is something produced after the auction of the Soho Mint or something that was struck at the Soho Mint. Given that Peck is not the person to classify it, I cannot say for sure until I do more research. Peck does allude that Late Soho strikes did occur for this piece (Pg. 379 under P-1366) when he describes how the obverse die was used to strike the proofs. To any extent, it is a fascinating coin.

Obverse: You may recognize this depiction of George III as the one used by Boulton for this third and final contract to produce regal copper for England. He did recycle the obverse die to strike these coins. George III is depicted facing right adorned by a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of one loop and two ends that droop below the neck. 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 with no dot (i.e., K). The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded 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. File marks can be seen on the rims of the coin, which was done by whoever minted the coin. The obverse of this coin is nothing shy of spectacular and possesses a deep vibrant mahogany color. This coin was struck with a repolished die that was not well kept as made evident by the numerous faint rust spots on in the fields. This coin is otherwise free of contact marks is extremely eye appealing.

Reverse: The reverse of this coin depicts an intricate sea battle. The primary device is a large British 3 masted warship that proudly flies the Union Flag. The craftsmanship is so detailed that one can see individual sailors on the deck of the ship. Behind this triumphant ship to the left, a smaller vessel is seen in the distance. It flies a banner too small to be recognized but has the general appearance of sinking. An even smaller and more distantly located ship can be seen behind the British ship to the left. It flies no banners and is sinking in the distance. I believe this is supposed to depict the sinking of pirate vessels that plagued the seas near the Bahamas at the time. The sea is cut straight, and in exergue, the Legend “EXPULSIS PIRATIS RESTITUTA COMMERCIA” appears. This is roughly translated as “Pirates expelled—Commerce Resorted”. If the obverse did not provide sufficient evidence that this coin was struck using a rusty die, the reverse would undoubtedly prove convincing. Numerous rust spots occur throughout the reverse. The largest of which occurs on the top left of the rearmost mast.

Edge: Plain

Notes: These coins are exceedingly rare and are naturally expensive. I sold a few pieces that no longer fit in the collection and spent my entire weekly budget to purchase this coin, but I am happy that I did. This coin is a testament to Boulton’s resourcefulness (if you do not know what I mean, go back and read the 5th paragraph of the Success and inadequacy section of the introduction). This, paired with the commemorative nature of the coin, is a home run for me. Despite its flaws, this coin is spectacular, in my opinion, and has earned a spot in my box of 20. The only two examples PCGS has graded have both been PR-63 BN, and as such, this tied for the finest. NGC has graded three, and none of which are graded above PF-63BN. This coin has since been sold.
View Coin 1801(03) Spain Droz Fraud Medal Skinner Collection BRONZE 1801-DATED SPAIN BRAMSEN-187 CHARLES IV & MARIE LOUISE Skinner Collection NGC AU 55 BN Let me start by saying that this is NOT a product of the Soho Mint, but it has been included in the set because it tells an important part of Soho's history. This medal was designed and engraved by the troublesome artist Jean Pierre Droz. I strongly encourage you to read the section entitled "Soho's Formative Years" for more relevant contextual information for those of you who have not read the entire write-up provided in the set description. For a good reason, Boulton became increasingly fed-up with Droz, and upon his dismissal from the Soho Mint, he found employment at the Paris Mint, which is where this medal was struck. Seemingly more discontent with how things ended with Boulton and seeming to lack any moral compass, Droz started to make an effort to lay claim to some of the achievements Boulton had made. This is painfully clear in the paper he presented to the Napoleonic National Institute in 1802. I will forgo any detailed examination here, but those interested should consult Pollard (1968) for a concise summary. This no doubt angered Boulton, but the final blow would come when Droz circulated this medal. Although dated 1801, this medal was supposedly struck in 1803. At the time, the Paris Mint sought to secure a contract to strike coinage for Spain, and this medal was intended to serve as both an advertisement and a warning (Pollard, 1970). Within the inscriptions, Droz claims that he invented the method of multiplying dies, which is a jab at our friend Matthew Boulton. You see, although Droz promised to complete and perfect this work while under Boulton's employment, he never did. The arbitration documents made available clearly show that Droz failed to do so even by his own account. Yet here he is trying to take claim for Boulton's work and freely circulating his lies around Europe. Boulton would eventually issue a medal of his in response in French. As my friend Bill McKivor likes to point out, Droz and Boulton argued in three languages on medals distributed throughout Europe.

Obverse: The obverse design is rather pleasing with the conjoined busts of Charles IV and Marie Louise. Charles IV's hair is adorned with a laurel wreath of 14 leaves and 11 berries and is tied behind the neck with a ribbon of one bow and two loose ends. The top loose end points outward while the bottom loose end points downward. Hair curls occur both above and below the truncation of the bust. In between the lowest curl of hair and the tip of the bust, the initials M. G. S. appear. Marie's bust is conjoined with Charles IV's at the right. Her hair is adorned with a simplistic tiara decorated with eight circular gems. Several tufts of tightly curled hair occur above and below the tiara. A large, tightly formed hair curl appears on her right shoulder, and a loosely formed hair curl rests on her left breast—several indistinguishable marks depict the design of her dress. The legend "UNION AUGUST" occurs above the conjoined busts. A rather large raised flaw appears in the field parallel to the bow behind Charles IV's neck. The obverse design is contained within a toothed border and a thin raised rim.

Reverse: The reverse design is devoid of any design and is entirely constructed with two legends in Spanish. The central legend occurs in the field in a noticeably larger font. It reads "EVITANDO EL FRAUDE DILACION Y GASTOS IDENTIFICA LOS SIGNOS" which roughly translates to "AVOID FRAUD, DELAY AND EXPENSES, IDENTIFY THE SIGNS". A thin, raised circle separates the second legend from the first. The former is wrapped tightly around this circle. It reads "J · P · DROZ INVENTOR DEL METODO DE MULTIPLICAR LOS TROQUELES" which roughly translates to "J · P · DROZ INVENTOR OF THE METHOD OF MULTIPLYING THE DIES". The date "1801" occurs within the same legend at the bottom surrounded by a star on either side. This legend is sandwiched between the inner raised circle and the outer beaded border, which is then contained within the thin raised rim.

Edge: ACUÑA SUPERFICIE Y CANTO A UN SOLO GOLPE (coin surface and edge lettering with a single strike)

Notes:The history behind this piece is pretty neat. I stumbled upon this medal on eBay before I truly understood its significance. At the time, I had just purchased my first Soho Piece (i.e., the P-945 pattern halfpenny) and was doing some research on Droz. It wasn't until I started reading about the bad blood between Boulton and Droz that the context of this medal became clear. These seem to be coming up for sale more frequently than I remember in years past and are relatively affordable. I intend to find a nice uncirculated example eventually, but I am in no rush. Of more importance to me is securing an example of the medal Boulton produced in response. Either medal alone is rather impressive, but it takes both to tell the entire story. Maybe at some point, I will be lucky enough to add one to my collection.
1803 National Edition of Shakespeare's Works in Silver With shells Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - MEDALS SILVER 1803 G.BRIT BHM-553 NATIONAL EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE'S WORKS
1803 NATIONAL EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WORK

This is one of the more unusual medals produced at the Soho Mint, mostly because allegorical figures were seemingly out of style during this period. Nonetheless, it has an interesting back story. Over several years Mr. Boydell commissioned some of the world's finest artists to paint pictures of the numerous scenes from Shakespeare's work. This collection became rather expansive, and eventually, Mr. Boydell opened the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall. From the original portraits, Boydell started selling prints in 1789 as a subscription service. Eventually, he amounted enough prints to produce a two-volume folio, which brings us to this medal's conception. Boydell had the idea to produce a medal to thank his subscribers and pay tribute to Shakespeare. According to Pollard (1970), a series of mishaps occurred, including a dispute over the material and a slight miscalculation as to the cost. Boydell, seemingly concerned with the cost, requested that the medals be as large as possible but with a reduced weight to conserve silver and reduce overall cost. Accordingly, the dies were completed in the summer of 1802, and according to Pollard (1970); however, it wasn't until May 19th, 1804 that Boydell was billed for ₤200 worth of silver. Oddly, it would not be until 1805 that the medal would be issued, and it appears that Boydell blamed the delay on the Soho Mint. Pollard (1970) also mentions that Boulton's close friend Ambrose Weston requested a specimen, but Boulton refused to sell him one because the contract with Boydell did not expressly permit it. Instead, Boulton referred Mr. Weston to Mr. Boydell to secure a copy. These medals are known to occur in gold (purportedly presented to the King), silver, copper, and lead. Tungate (2010) reports that 654 (in all metals) were produced in 1804 and 1805, with an additional 100 (in all metals) produced in 1807. All of these are dated 1803.
SHAKESPEARE GALLERY


Obverse: The obverse design of this medal is rather striking and is based on a painting that decorated the main entrance of Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery. It depicts Shakespeare looking to the distance while resting upon a rock wearing a buttoned tunic with a decorated collar. His right arm is stiff against the rock, holding his weight up, and his right arm rests on the shoulder of the allegorical figure "Genius of Painting". His right leg is outstretched while his left leg is bent and partially obscured by his left leg. The rock rests upon a rectangular pedestal. Upon which is engraved in four lines, "HE WAS A MAN | TAKE HIM FOR ALL IN ALL | I SHALL NOT LOOK | UPON HIS LIKE AGAIN". The Dramatic Muse appears at the left of the rock with her gaze set on Shakespeare. A theatrical mask adorns her hair, which seems to be tied in a close-fitting knot. Her left arm is outreached, holding a laurel wreath. A four-stringed Greek lyre rests between her chest and her left arm. Her right arm is outstretched with her hand open toward Shakespeare. A loose scarf runs from her left shoulder meets her figure at her lower back, flowing freely in front of her before lopping back behind her. She wears a clinging dress with her right should exposed. Her left foot is back with her toes resting on the foreground. Her right foot is slightly forward and flat, bearing her weight. Her dress is long and freely flows to her the floor in the space between her feet. On the right, the Genius of Painting is depicted looking to the right. Her right arm is outstretched with an open hand pointing to Shakespeare. Her left hand is down and bent in front of her holding a paint palette with several noticeable globs of paint. Her left shoulder and both breasts are exposed, but her dress is draped over her right arm and pinned by her right arm. It extends to the floor, but her outward extended left leg is exposed from the knee down. Her right leg is bent behind her and rests on her toes. Her dress piles behind her and to the left of her right foot. This entire design seemingly rests upon a stage detailed with vertical hatch markings. A small area devoid of detail occurs between two raised lines. Immediately below, a larger void area occurs in the shape of a semicircular protractor. The outer portion of this shape is blank, with the engraving "M·B. Soho occurring on the top left and "C·H·KUCHLER. F." occurs at the right. The usually hollow portion of the protractor shape is adorned with the same vertical hatch markings described earlier. All of this is contained within a very thin raised circular line and a relatively thick beveled rim.

Reverse: A scroll appears at the top under a tipped over four-string Greek Lyre pierced by a laurel branch. Several raised lines radiate from this design. The legend "THIS | MEDAL | REPRESENTING SHAKSPEARE BETWEEN | THE DRAMATICK MUSE AND THE GENUIS OF PAINTING | IS RESPECTFULLY PRESENTED TO | THE PERSON| WHOSE NAME IT BEARS | IN GRATEFUL COMMEMORATION OF THE GENEROUS SUPPORT | GIVEN BY THE SUBSCRIBERS | TO THE GREAT NATIONAL EDITION OF THAT | IMMORTAL POET | BY | I. I. & J. N. BOYDELL. | AND | G. & W. NICOL. | 1803.". All of this is contained within a very thin raised circular line and a relatively thick beveled rim. The reverse has some pleasant pastel toning.

Edge: This example has a plain edge, but often these are encountered with an engraved edge with the name of the recipient (i.e., the subscriber). Boydell wanted these medals to be large, but he was also concerned with the cost. The edge engraving required a decent thickness, which translated to increase the cost.

Notes: This particular example has retained its original shells and was purchased from my good friend William (Bill) McKivor in 2020. My wife is a Shakespeare fanatic, and my acquisition of this piece came about after a chat with Bill. I had just started exploring the Soho Mint medals at the time, and I had no idea that it existed. I find the obverse design to be very impressive and connection to Shakespeare makes it a medal that my wife and I can appreciate. It appears these medals come up for sale rather often but frequently have not retained their original shells. For those interested in pursuing Soho Medals, I recommend trying to find an example of this type. Overall, the design is very pleasing, and the relatively large size (48 mm) makes for an impressive addition to any condition. Although this piece is marked as "wanted", I own it and is only classified this way so that it can be included in the set. This is one of about three dozen raw pieces that I hope to submit to NGC at some point to formally add to this set.

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