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Social elitism: As told by the history of English copper 1694-1807

Owner:  coinsandmedals
Last Modified:  8/12/2022
  
Set Description

For those of you who have read the introductions of my other registry sets, you are likely all too aware of the numerous issues surrounding the copper coinage in Ireland and England. This is the third registry set that I have started this year, and I have partly put it off simply because of the time it requires to write these little introductions and provide detailed descriptions for each of the coins within. To this point, the sets entitled, “Change for a gold Pistole?” and “What comes next? You’ve been freed. Do you know how hard it is lead?” have focused on separate but intertwined issues surrounding the copper coinage of both Ireland and England. A general theme of disregard on behalf of those in power and a desperate cry by those who were impacted is repeated in the history portrayed in both of those sets. Time and time again, the general public would cry out for regal copper, and the ruling class would ignore their request. This set provides additional historical context for the lack of motivation to alleviate the issue in Ireland and further expands the history of this struggle for the English copper coinage.

Silver before copper

An interesting account by Brooke (1932) notes that the issue of small denomination currency was a problem that remained unresolved for much of England’s history since the 1300s. The use of silver to strike pennies, halfpennies, and farthings were proving to be a burden. The production of these coins was limited and cumbersome, and the use of these tiny pieces proved even more complicated; however, the lower poor classes were restricted by their means to purchase items on a smaller scale, which necessitated the need for lower denomination currency. A poor farmer could not be expected to buy a halfpenny worth of beer and not expect change back in return, nor could he afford to purchase a full pennies worth. This created real issues for conducting everyday business. To make matters more complicated, the price of silver was steadily increasing, and the supply was decreasing, which led to the size and weight of this already minimal series of coins to fall. The low weight and small size of these silver coins paired with the increased cost and diminishing supply of material made their production no longer an economical option and as such other means needed to be explored.

It would not be until the reign of Elizabeth I that copper would even be truly considered to mint low denomination currency. Unfortunately, no regal currency copper pieces would be produced until 1672 under the rule of Charles II. Looking through almost any standard reference guide on the subject of English coins would likely lead one to erroneously conclude that this is not true, and both James I and Charles I issued copper coinage of their own. This would be incorrect as these farthing pieces issued under both reigns are tokens and not regal copper. Peck (1964) makes many notes highlighting that both monarchs sanctioned the production of these token farthings but were not to be mistaken as legal tender and were only to be used by those who would have them. As such, as interesting as these tokens may be, they have no place in the current set, and no further mention of them is explicitly made. Brooke (1932) notes that token coinage made up the majority of the lower denomination currency circulating in England with a noticeable peak around the later 1640s up until the release of the regal copper of Charles II in 1672. Both Brooke and Peck mention that although the production of these tokens was mostly illegal, it was not suppressed and, as such, ran rampant.

Charles II attempted to curb this growing trend and reiterated the legality of this practice when he issued his regal coinage. In 1672 is was noted in the London Gazette that the counterfeiting of the regal copper coinage was illegal but was only classified as a misdemeanor. This did little good to alleviate the counterfeiting issue, and the end of the 1670s witnessed the last copper coinage to be struck under his reign. Tin would eventually be adopted for the use in striking farthings in 1684. This was in part due to the many issues experienced at the mint to produce the copper coinage and an effort to prevent further counterfeiting. Perhaps the most significant reason why tin was adopted was that Charles II was heavily invested in the tin mines, and prices had dropped to record lows. The king was losing money, and using the tin from his mines to strike farthings would help him recoup some of those losses. This would prove to be very profitable for Charles II, but the coins were not well received by the general public for three main reasons. First, the coins had no intrinsic value as the cost of the tin was well under the denomination of the currency. Second, counterfeits of these tin farthings ran rampant as the material needed was much cheaper and readily available, which yielded much more profit to the counterfeiter. Third, the tin corroded easily, and these coins quickly degraded to a point where they are unidentifiable. Peck, Brooke, and Spink, all make many notes about the volatility of the materials and further attest to the public disdain for the tin pieces.

Although Charles II took the initial steps to exercise his right as King to produce lower denomination currency, he did so in a fashion that led to more harm than good. He provided us with the first run of milled regal copper, which as a collector, I am ever so grateful for. Still, he also further propagated the growing counterfeiting problem when he introduced tin coinage. This just further speaks to the lack of conviction on behalf of the crown to address the needs of the common. Since the 1300s, the crown was aware of the shortage of lower denomination currency but yielded their prerogative to resolve the issue to those who produced illegal tokens and then seemingly turned a blind eye to the prosecution of those individuals. Charles II took the initial steps to correct this series of events, and according to Peck (1964), denied several patent requests from private individuals based on the premise that these patents would further generate profits for the patent holders at the cost of the common. It seems as though according to this interpretation that Charles II attempted to exercise his royal prerogative for the good of the common; however, this is not the entire case. As previously noted, Charles II was deeply invested in the tin mines and turned his eye to the greater good of the common to further fortify his wellbeing. This is yet another example of extreme social inequality in England at the time. The reign of James II was short and seemingly no exception to this pattern. Despite the growing list of issues with the tin currency, only tin halfpennies and farthings were produced. The penny was reestablished in silver during his reign. James II would abdicate his throne and travel to France on December 23rd, 1688, which gives rise to the first coins contained in this collection produced under the reign of William and Mary.

William and Mary

On the 13th of February 1688, William and Mary took over from James II, and it was during this reign that England would receive its first regal copper coin depicting the busts of two royals. Unfortunately, this new design was unveiled on several issues of tin halfpennies and farthings dated from 1690 to 1692. According to Peck, a patent was granted to Charles Godolphin, James Hoare, and Andrew Corbet to produce halfpennies and farthings in Tin on October 12th, 1689. This proved to be a very profitable venture for both the patent holders and the crown, which realized over 13,000 pounds in profit from 1690-91 alone. Of which, 5,200 went to the crown. The tin coinage of Charles II and James II was not well received by the general public, and the issues by William and Mary were no exception. This marks yet another example of how the interests of the crown trumped the needs of the common people under its rule. By 1692 the public outcry necessitated the seizure of tin coinage production, and by August 3rd, several proposals were made for different metals.

Peck also notes that on March 25th, 1693, a patent was granted to Andrew Corbet of the prior contract in 1689, to produce 780 tons of copper halfpence and farthings for nine years. It appears as though Corbet was slow to produce anything and what little he did was underweight and of poor craftsmanship. As such, none of his pieces ever made it past the development stage to see significant circulation. He eventually lost his patent in the summer of 1694 to Sir Joseph Herne, Sir Francis Parry, George Clark, Abel Slaney, and Daniel Barton. Under this new contract, 700 tons of copper halfpence and farthings were to be struck over seven years. This contract further stipulated several details. Peck notes the most important of which was that these pieces were to be struck using the finest English copper. Furthermore they were to be struck on rolled blanks that were then milled to produce the final result. The first run of coins was produced in late June of 1694.

From the very beginning, the coinage of William and Mary exploits the needs of the poor for the wealth of the elite. This pattern persists throughout this reign and well into the reign of William III. The contractors paid to produce this coinage did so by sparing every expense possible and even violating the very terms laid out in the contract. Quality control seems to have been absent as numerous spelling errors occur in the legends, most notably the presence of an inverted “V” as opposed to an “A”. Furthermore, a good portion of the coins appear to have been struck on cast and milled blanks, which is not what was agreed to in the contract required. This is likely in part because the English copper contained more imperfections than the Swedish copper used by Charles II, which left the metal more challenging to work with. The process of rolling the blanks was complicated and time-consuming, two things that often slow production and as such profits. By melting the copper and pouring it into casts, the blanks could be made quicker. The issue with this process is that when the metal solidified, the surfaces were often very pitted, and the quality of the final product often suffered. This deficient practice was not evident from the beginning, and the earlier pieces were most likely produced with rolled blanks, which resulted in a final product with smooth surfaces. Given that counterfeiting had been such a big problem, I can only speculate how suspicious the common people were of the pitted surfaces and inaccurate legends of the examples made using cast blanks.

The crown seemed uninterested in correcting these issues even though they are a direct violation of the contract agreed to and ultimetly lead to an inferior final product. This is yet another example of how those in power could not be bothered with the issues of the commoners. Instead, these matters were referred to individuals who had the sole mission to gain profit for themselves at the expense of the general public. This line of abuse is prevalent throughout the reign of William and Mary and propagates further degradation afterword.

William III

After Mary’s death on December 28th, 1694, William III became the sole ruler and ordered the removal of Mary's portrait from the design of all proceeding coinage. Despite the numerous violations of the contract details, the patent holders retained their place and continued to strike regal copper for England under the reign of William III. Peck (1964) notes that numerous complaints were lodged against the patent holders and details the one complaint made January 13th, 1696 which indicates that the coins produced were underweight, made from cast blanks, and the exchange of tin coinage for copper coinage was not being upheld by the contract holders as stipulated. These complaints were investigated on April 6th, 1696, but were quickly dismissed. This further illustrates that the ruling class did not care or was not sufficiently motivated to effect change.

To further highlight the blatant disregard for integrity, the contractors hired John Roettier to produce the obverse dies. This man was charged with smuggling dies from the Tower Mint to France. Although the charges were dropped, it seems as though his connection with the accusations would have yielded him unfit for the current position. Peck (1964) also notes the Roettier argued for the quality of the cast pieces citing that the process was less time consuming and yielded a softer metal that wore down the dies less compared to the rolled pieces. It also appears that Peck had some evidence that a portion of regal copper pieces were made entirely by casting, which would have been a double violation of the contract details agreed to. As if these violations were not enough to save money, the contractors also opted to use inverted “V”s for “A”s in the legend to avoid making a new punch. This led to the numerous varieties listed by Peck with slightly misspelled legends or improper letter usage.

All of the corner-cutting would eventually come back to impact the coveted profit of the contractors. Peck (1964) notes that by early 1698, 460 tons had been struck, and certain areas such as London were utterly overrun with them while other areas were almost completely deprived. The contractors had failed to properly disperse their product likely to cut costs of shipping large amounts of heavy copper coinage great distances. Again, the elite class resided in London, and although some areas were utterly deprived, an act was proposed to suspend production for six months. Despite pleads on behalf of the contractors, an act was passed on May 12th, 1698, that suspended production for a year starting June 24th, 1698. Two more petitions would be registered to further suspend production for another year in both 1699 and 1700, but both were dismissed.

Because of the carelessness of the contractors and the indifference of the ruling class, the needs of the poor were once again used to make a profit for the elite. The insufferable need on behalf of the contractors to cut costs at every turn yielded a series of regal copper far inferior to that of any other reign. These coins are difficult to find well preserved, and rolled examples are few in comparison to the numerous cast blank examples. Nonetheless, the crude design details and pitted surfaces are a stark reminder of the social inequalities of the time.

George I

Much like the reigns of James II and Anne, the reign of George I is somewhat uneventful in the way of numismatic history related to regal copper coinage. Anne produced no regal copper for circulation in her short tenure as Queen. The poor quality of the William III pieces likely did not aspire much confidence, and by 1717, the need for regal copper was extremely high. Peck (1964) notes that on September 13th, 1717, the production of said coins was authorized, but these were to be substantially lighter than prior issues due to the increase in copper prices. The first issue of this series is referred to as “Dump” coins, which is in reference to their smaller diameter but slightly thicker appearance. These coins are usually well sought and can command very high prices. Unlike the copper produced under William III, the Tower Mint was in charge of the production of these pieces. Although noticeably better quality than previous regal issues, these pieces are not without numerous issues. The relatively high relief paired with low pressure striking yielded weak details, omitted stops, and an overall blurring of the design (Peck, 1964; Montague, 1893). By all accounts, the total production of the copper coinage of this era produced a total of £30,289 of regal copper coinage, according to Peck, the last of which was dated 1724.

George II

The reign of George II marks one of the more interesting eras of regal copper coinage. On July 21st, 1729, copper production was authorized to be resumed. Peck (1964) notes that because of his absence, Queen Caroline signed this authorization on behalf of George II. This is a notable exception to the ordinary proceedings; however, much like the regal copper of his predecessors, the issues produced under George II were plagued with counterfeits. This began as a somewhat simple operation of melting down regal coppers and casting forgeries of less weight for circulation. The excess copper would yield a profit to the counterfeiter. Peck notes that by 1725, this was the most common type of counterfeiting operation that primarily impacted the halfpence pieces. Eventually, the scheme escalated, and regal copper was melted down, the metal diluted to a less pure state, and the forgeries were created from the less pure metal. This allowed a twofold profit for the counterfeiter because the less pure copper mixture allowed them to produce more underweight forgeries.

Up until this point, counterfeiting was still classified as a misdemeanor, and guilty parties were often given minimum sentences. This would all change in 1742 when the penalties for counterfeiting were made more severe, and the system was changed to require increased accountability. Furthermore, the new changes initiated a plea bargain type of operation in which a criminal could receive a lighter sentence or even complete forgiveness if they provided information that led to additional arrests. Peck (1964) notes that the two-year jail sentence remained in place, but additionally, the convicted had to find a person who was willing to place a predetermined amount of money as a voucher on their behalf. If the released criminal violated any law during those two years, the voucher would be lost. To make the law more effective, the crown offered £10 to any informer who provided information that led to a conviction. Those charged with counterfeiting could give testimony against their accomplices, and if their testimony led to the conviction of two others, the charges against them would be dropped.

Although the new law made the punishments more severe, it seems as though the impact was not as significant as intended. Peck notes that the law was not written concerning pieces that had noticeable differences to the regal issues. For instance, if the forgery had numerous spelling errors or slight alterations of the bust and did not have a nearly exact similarity to the regal issue, prosecution was made much harder and often resulted in a minimal punishment. This why so many non-regal invasion type pieces have slightly different legends and design details in comparison to the regal issues. This idea took off, and by 1751, counterfeiters were advancing to the use of hand presses to produce their forgeries. This allowed them to produce more pieces at a faster rate yielding even more profit. This quickly became a multifaceted operation with one location melting the regal issues, one location diluting the copper, another producing the blanks, and yet another striking the forgeries. A final agent would be involved in distributing the counterfeits to the market. This fragmented process made apprehending the criminals very difficult. Numerous sources have listed Birmingham as the capital of this underground counterfeiting world, and it appears as though this was no secret at the time. Peck notes that in 1744 a mint official visited the town to investigate, which ultimately led to several convictions.

Yet again, the needs of the poor were extorted to raise profits for the few. This time the profits were netted by illegal activates not sanctioned by the crown. Nonetheless, the poor working-class paid the price. The regal issues of George II should have yielded an abundance of copper coinage across the nation, but extensive counterfeiting and lack of distribution resulted in the majority of the copper situated in populated areas such as London. Although the copper shortage was resolved in these areas, the majority of the country was in dire need. During this process, the needs of the poor were quickly becoming a burden to the upper-class int he areas overrun with these coppers.

The legal tender status of the copper was limited to transactions up to 6 pence. Any transactions above which were to be completed with silver. As Peck points out, the copper coinage was deemed as “tokens” and not real currency by the elite, such as Joseph Harris. Harris served as the King’s assay master, and in 1757, he notes that the coppers could not be used in excess of 6 pence, or the counterfeiting issue would only deepen due to the possibility of even more profit on behalf of the counterfeiter. He further points out the copper coinage is reserved for the poor working class. To illustrate this point, further, Peck notes that the Mint workers were paid entirely in the new copper coinage who did not earn enough to be paid in silver. The Mint workers, like many others, needed to purchase goods and services from wealthier merchants. These transactions would likely never exceed 6 pence and, as such, would be completed entirely in copper coinage. Merchants who catered to the needs of the poor eventually accumulated large amounts of copper coinage that they had difficulty using because the legal status was limited to transactions of less than 6 pence. The copper crisis had come full circle, and now the rich and the poor alike had an issue that required attention. Peck notes that numerous proposals were made to fix the problem. One proposed that all the copper could be collected, remade, and redistributed to the entire country. This would have been an expensive and time-consuming process and, as such, was denied. Another important proposal came from the Mint in early 1755, which suggested that the copper should be devalued to allow for more copper to exchange hands in transactions under 6 pence. The proposal would have reduced the halfpence to 1/3 and the farthing to 1/6 of a penny. This proposal was denied, and on February 20th, 1755, the production of all regal copper was seized.

The lack of a concentrated effort on behalf of the few to alleviate the issues of the many ultimately resulted in the crisis that plagued the copper coinage for generations to come. It remains possible that counterfeiting may not have run as rampant through this era had the issue been adequately resolved in the past. The ruling elite viewed the problem of lower denomination currency as a burden, and this nuisance would later become a genuine issue for them in the upcoming years with the budding industrial revolution. The next regal copper coinage would not be struck until the early 1760s, and in the meantime, the need for lower denominational currency to pay workers would grow and further widen the social divide.

George III

The early portion of George III’s reign repeated much of the same story that has plagued the reigns of his predecessors. The common people urged for new regal copper, the request was ignored, and counterfeiting ran rampant.
COUNTERFEIT 1775 1/2 PENNY
Eventually, George III did authorize the production of regal farthings in 1762 and 1763. Oddly enough, these pieces would be struck from old dies used during the reign of 1754 and were dated as such with the portrait of George II. Peck notes that this was a negligible amount and did little to address the copper crisis at the time. Eventually, the Tower Mint would produce regal halfpennies and farthings from 1770 to 1775 that, according to Peck, would amount to £46,455 in total. During this period, counterfeiting was even more prevalent than before, and these coins were melted down in large numbers and remade for circulation in Scotland. The Scottish at this point had never seen a regal piece with the portrait of the new king and were likely not to question the authenticity of the counterfeit pieces. Peck notes that although a new law was enacted on June 24th, 1771, making counterfeiting of regal copper a felony, the counterfeiting business was extraordinarily profitable and turned into an extensive operation. Much like the reign of George II, this was a multifaceted operation with many working parts, which made it nearly impossible to shut down. The counterfeiting was so extensive that Peck notes a mint report from 1787 estimated that only 8% of the copper in circulation had any resemblance to the regal copper produced at the Tower mint. This led the Mint to propose doubling the weight of both the halfpence and the farthing but this proposal was never approved.

The basic pattern would be repeated, the issue would go unresolved, and the working poor would carry the burden. Through the decades between 1750 and 1775, the industrial revolution was in full stride, and all the time, a constant pressure was applied to create a wage-based type of compensation for workers. The introduction of wage-based pay further strained the already dwindling supply of regal copper coinage in circulation. Copper bearing dates from the 1750s remained in circulation among the more contemporary pieces stuck in the 1770s; however, it was not enough. The wages paid to workers were rather low and necessitated the use of smaller denomination coinage such as farthings, pennies, and most notably halfpennies. This would eventually give rise to an entirely new breed of trade tokens, unlike those produced in earlier years. These tokens, nicknamed “Conder” tokens, were usually of high quality, close to the intrinsic weight of the denomination, and listed the location where they could be redeemed. Although the conder tokens provided some relief they did little to satisfy the need and next to nothing to curb the growing counterfeiting operations. To make matters worse, the of the heart counterfeiting operation remained in Birmingham, which was less than a mile from the residence of Matthew Boulton, who later become a pivotal role in the numismatic history of England.

Given that Matthew Boulton, in partnership with James Watt, was already enthralled in the industrial revolution with his steam engine company and numerous other enterprises, it is clear why he would want to get involved with minting coins. His business required the employment of a large number of workers, all of which were paid wages that demanded the use of smaller denomination coinage. What may be less obvious is how Boulton’s national pride, ambition, and moral values may have played into the decision to create the Soho Mint. Given that Boulton was a member of a committee tasked with hedging against crime, it is only reasonable to conclude that the counterfeiting operation of his neighbors was a prime concern. The town was laden with criminals whose primary offense was counterfeiting. By all accounts, Boulton appears to possess a great amount of national pride and a sense of duty to his community. This pride and moral integrity paired with the need to pay his workers may have led to his conviction to seek a contract to strike regal copper coinage and alleviate the needs of the public. It appears for once that the needs of the many have caught the attention of someone in a position to make a difference.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Soho Mint, I strongly urge you to check out my other custom set entitled “What comes next? You’ve been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?”. This set provides a very abridged history of the Soho Mint how it led to the industrialization of the minting process. The application of steam-powered technology with the art and science of minting yielded coins of extraordinary quality. The quality of the pieces, both in craftsmanship and standardized weights close to intrinsic value, paired with the added security features such as the engrailed edge, helped curb counterfeiting, which was a significant issue in England. On his own accord, Mathew Boulton would seek a contract with the British government to strike regal copper coinage for England of unprecedented quality.

Through considerable personal expense and numerous risks of complete ruin, Boulton remained persistent and eventually secured a full contract and patent by the Lords of the Committee on Coin to produce regal copper March 3rd, 1797, for 500 tons of copper coinage in Pence and Two Pence denominations. A total of 20 tons were to be struck and delivered each week with the first delivery scheduled for June 26th, 1797. The first coins were struck on June 19th, 1797, and this nearly wrecked the 1st Soho Mint. Production speed was slow, and the machines lacked the needed power to correct the numerous issues that arose. Nonetheless, Boulton did not seize production and kept good on his delivery dates. It would not be until January 17th, 1798 that a new way of connecting the steam engines would be discovered, eliminating the issues and boosting production. Pence coins were struck through 1797 and ended August of 1799; however, Two Pence production did not begin until January of 1798 and was completed by April. Although a second official contract would not be granted until November 4th of 1799, two unofficial renewals kept the Soho mint in production under the same contract until July 27th, 1799. By the end of this contract and the two renewals, a total of 43,969,204 Pence and 722,180 Two Pence were struck for a total of 44,691,384 coins.

Although Boulton finally realized his ambition and struck regal copper for England, he was limited to Pence and Two Pence. His real desire was to produce the much-needed halfpennies. He proposed a contract to the committee to produce halfpennies on August 17th, 1798, but it wouldn’t be until November 4th, 1799 that he was granted permission. The contract charged Boulton to produce 550 tons of regal coppers with the ratio of 10 halfpennies to each farthing. The first delivery was scheduled to occur on the 18th of November. With most of the issues worked out that arose during the completion of the first contract, the Soho mint was able to finish the second contract by July 18th, 1800. In total 46,704,000 coins were struck, 42,480,000 halfpennies and 4,224,000 farthings.

Boulton proposed the third contract on November 20th, 1804, to produce more Pence, halfpennies, and farthings, but this proposal would not be approved until March 20th, 1806. By March 31st, 1806, the Soho Mint had struck a total of 4,833,768 farthings, which concluded the entire production of that denomination for the year. Production of Pence pieces commenced on April 28th, with the first delivery being made on May 7th. In total, 19,355,430 Pence coins were struck in 1806 alone. The first delivery of halfpennies was made on June 28th, 1806. By the end, a total of 87,893,526 halfpennies bearing the date 1806 would be struck. Production continued in 1807, but at some point, the dates were changed on the dies to reflect the new year. An additional 11,290,168 Pence pieces, 41,394,384 halfpennies, and 1,075,200 farthings would be struck bearing the date 1807. The final distribution of these coins was completed in March of 1809, just four months before the passing of Matthew Boulton on August 17th, 1809. At this point, Boulton’s son Matthew Robinson Boulton (hereunto referred to as Matt) was mostly in control of the operation of the Soho Mint. On July 27th, 1809, Matt petitioned to continue the production of copper coinage for England but was refused. In total, the third contract with England yielded an output of 165,842,526 regal coppers.

In the end, Mathew Boulton produced a total of 257,237,860 regal copper coins across 12 years. The copper shortage was alleviated. Furthermore, the quality of the coins paired with the added security features went a long way to eliminate counterfeiting copper coinage. The business was no longer profitable, and the supply of genuine regal copper was sufficient to reduce the desperate need for inferior copper. The ramifications of the Soho mint would be far-reaching and go on to impact nearly every aspect of the modern minting process.

Summary:

In summary, the needs of the many could have been resolved by means of the few, but the lack of interest and motivation led to a corrupt monetary system plagued by counterfeiting. The shortage of small denomination currency was evident since the 1300s and yet was not genuinely addressed until Charles II, who eventually did more harm than good to protect his interests. From this reign forward, counterfeiting would plague every attempt to produce regal copper, and the working poor would have to carry the burden. It would not be until the industrial revolution of the mid to late 18th century that the upper-class would fully feel the toll of the copper crisis. The choices of the social elite came full circle to impact their interests, which finally provided the needed motivation to solve the issue. Matthew Boulton proved to be the man for the job, and his work at the Soho Mint went a long way to alleviate the copper crisis and lift the heavy burden from the working class.

Disclaimer:

For a considerable portion of the notes used to build this set, I did not keep an accurate record of citations. Instead, I took general notes from multiple sources in a very informal way. As such, the facts within this write up have been confirmed, but I encourage readers of this to do their research and by all means, contact me if they discover I have made a mistake. Listed below are the numerous sources I used to compile the information written above.

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.

Coins of England & the United Kingdom Pre-decimal Issues (2018). London: Spink and Son LTD.

Cope, G. M., & Rayner, P. A. (1975). The standard catalog of English milled coinage in silver, copper, and bronze 1662-1972. London: Spink and Son, Limited.

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

Julian, J. W. (2018). Boulton’s British copper from 1797-1807 [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://www.numismaticnews.net/article/boultons-british-copper-1797-1807

Lobel, R., Davidson, M., Hailstone, A., & Calligas, E. (1999). Coincraft’s Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins 1066 to date. London: Standard Catalogue Publishers LTD.

Montagu, H. (1892). The Copper, Tin, and Bronze Coinage and Patterns for Coins of England, From the Reign of Elizabeth to that of Her Present Majesty. London: G. Nordman and Son.

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

Soho Mint. (2019) Retrieved from http://sohomint.info/index.html

Thorburn, W. S. (1887). A Guide to the Coins of Great Britain & Ireland in gold, silver, and copper from the earliest Period to the Present Time with their Value. London: London and County Printing Works.

Tungate, S. (2011) Matthew Boulton and The Soho Mint: copper to customer (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I.

The current set:

Several factors limit the breadth and scope of the current collection. Perhaps the two most limiting factors are time and money in no specific order. I lack a reasonable amount of both. To make this set even more challenging, I have done my best to hunt down raw examples of these coins, and after scrutiny, I have sent them to NGC to be graded. These coins are denoted with the “Skinner Collection” pedigree on the holder. Please keep in mind that both time and money are limiting factors, so if a coin bears the Skinner collection pedigree, I have put forth a great deal of effort to include it in this collection. Although most coins bear this pedigree, a few pieces do not. These are coins that I either did not feel comfortable purchasing raw or have not been able to find an attractive raw example at the purchase price offered for the already certified piece.

The pictures of those coins not bearing the Skinner collection pedigree are noticeably better than those with the pedigree. This is because these coins, for the most part, have been professionally photographed, and I have inherited those images as the new owner. All of the coins bearing the Skinner collection pedigree were purchased raw, and the pictures included within this set were taken by me. Given my depleted coffers and my unwillingness to spend money on a nice camera as opposed to a coin, I have opted to use my iPhone to take pictures of the coins that were not previously photographed by a professional. I do my best to ensure that I capture an image that depicts the actual color, character, and condition of the coin. This is an ongoing learning process, and I will periodically update the pictures as I hone my skills.

A few notes about the classification of the coins in this set:
Although numerous attempts have been made to produce a standard catalog of the varieties of English copper, 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 help of the British Museum, still struggled to differentiate the many patterns, proofs, currency strikes, and restrikes of the coins produced. He often notes that his classification is at times based on speculation but that every attempt was made to logically interpret the data at hand to be as accurate as possible. For those of you who may be interested, I would strongly encourage you to purchase a copy of Peck. Fair warning, this book is expensive and seldom comes up for sale, but the information contained within is invaluable to a serious collector.

At times, it can be next to impossible, if not impossible, to distinguish between proofs, patterns, and currency strikes. Although it is particularity true of several series, it is especially true of the numerous coins 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.

Peck 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 at a later date, they are not classified as restrikes but rather as "late Soho" pieces. The term "restrike" is used to denote pieces that were not struck at the Soho mint but were instead struck using dies purchased by Taylor from the Soho Mint in 1848. Throughout the descriptions of this set, I do my best to include the classification assigned by Peck in the first paragraph of the description. I also have done my best to list the rarity assigned to each coin by Peck. 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 both NGC and PCGS in the notes section of each coin. 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. Essentially the planchet was wiped with a powder combination that left a layer of the material on the planchet before striking.

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 had the pleasure of interacting with some of the hardest working NGC team members. I want to thank personally, Mr. Ben Wengel for his assistance with helping me correctly identify 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 Soho Mint shells will be preserved alongside their original coins for future generations to enjoy. Of course, all of this would not be possible if it were not for the helpful and friendly customer service staff who always patiently hear me out and guide me in the appropriate direction. All of you work together to provide truly exceptional customer service.

Set Goals
With this set, I hope to highlight the social circumstances that further propagated that numerous issues surrounding the production of regal copper, bronze, and tin coinage in England from the reign of William and Mary to that of George III. Furthermore, in using the coins in my modest but expanding collection, I hope to provide some basic knowledge regarding the numerous patterns, proofs, and business strikes of regal English copper. It is my sincere hope that giving the historical context in the introduction, paired with examples from my collection, may entice others to explore this vibrant area of history. I am too sensible to think this meager set will have a profound enough impact to make any significant contributions to the hobby. Still, if I can intrigue even one collector, I would consider the time and effort invested in this collection to be a striking success!

This set won the NGC Registry "Most Creative Custom Set" award in 2019. This was a complete surprise and it means a great deal to me that others have found some enjoyment from my collection.

Notes from the judges:

The goal of this collector is to portray a historical pattern of discrimination against the poor and working classes through neglecting their need for small change coins. Despite plenty of evidence that low value copper pieces were needed, Britain’s Royal Mint seldom attended to this need before the 19th Century. This tale is told through a selection of about two dozen coins spanning 1694-1807. Each entry provides excellent photos and highly detailed commentary about its numismatic aspects and the owner’s experiences with that coin.

Slot Name
Origin/Country
Item Description
Full Grade
Owner Comments
Pics
View Coin “1694” ND G. Britain ½ Penny Gilt Pattern P-594 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P (1694) England P-594 COPPER PATTERN PCGS AG 3 Brown This is a coin I never really expected to own simply because they do not come up to auction very auction. I was only able to locate three auction results for this piece and two of which are for the coin in this collection. It seems as though interest in the very early pattern pieces under the reign of William, and Mary only attracts a few buyers. Although this would generally be an ideal situation, it appears these select few have a much larger budget than I do. On any note, I was able to pick this example up for an extremely reasonable price, and I am proud to have it in my collection. Peck lists this coin as extremely rare.

Obverse: As one may be able to guess from the assigned grade, this coin is very worn, which makes it very difficult to distinguish any fine details. The basic design is the conjoined bust of William and Mary, with William in the foreground and Mary in the background. A wreath adorns William's head, but only the top two leaves are visible. The wreath is tied behind the neck by a riband, but I am unsure if there is a loop. The two loose ends protrude out to the rim with the upper loose end pointing slightly up. Peck notes that the bust of William III has long hair and that he is cuirassed, but Mary is draped. Only part of the legend is visible but reads “GVLIELMVS”. Some trace of the remaining legend can be seen but should have read “ET MARIA”. The border is noticeably toothed.

Reverse: The reverse of this example is even more worn than the obverse and is rotated about 45 degrees clockwise. Only a faint trace of the outer lines of the shield is visible. Peck describes the shield as large and bearing the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. He also notes that a shell occurs above. The reverse should read “ENGLISH COPPER” but this example is worn to the point that only “COPPER” is visible. Like the obverse, the reverse border is noticeably toothed.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is a very worn example of an extremely rare coin that was, without doubt, a magnificent coin when first struck. The plate image in the back of Peck is fantastic. I believe this coin was weakly struck on the right side (when observing the obverse). The details are nonexistent, and no trace of them ever existing is present, and this holds for the corresponding area on the reverse; however, the left side of the obverse is noticeably better struck with a very strong legend on both corresponding sides. This currently is the only graded example at PCGS, and there is only one graded MS-65 BN at NGC.
View Coin 1788 G. Britain ½ Penny Copper Pattern P-945 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1788 G.britain P-945 COPPER PATTERN Skinner Collection NGC PF 50 BN This is one of the numerous pattern halfpennies designed by Jean Pierre Droz struck at the Soho Mint. Peck lists this coin as an early Soho strike. It is listed as very rare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Edge: Plain

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

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

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

Edge: Plain

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

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

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

Edge: Plain

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

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

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

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

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

The struck pieces using the genuine Soho dies (i.e., Peck-1110) are rather good, and I imagine these readily passed as currency at the time. An example of one of these pieces from my collection is pictured above. To take this one step further, I also would not be surprised if these fooled some collectors who assumed they were well-circulated genuine examples.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1122 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797SOHO G.britain 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 10 Leaves Obverse Penny P-1132 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO G.britain 10 Leaves Obv. Skinner Collection NGC AU 58 BN This is an example of a 1797 currency strike penny struck at the Soho Mint. This is by no means a rare coin and of the two currency types, the ten leaves obverse and the 11 leaves obverse, this is by far the most common. For those of you interested in getting your collection started, the 1797 10 leaves penny is a real bargain for the series. These coins are relatively large and often can be found with beautiful, even brown color. If looking at these coins raw, be sure to find an example that is free of rim bumps.

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

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

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

Edge: Plain

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

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


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

Edge: Obliquely grained

Notes: The attention to detail and quality one would expect from the Soho mint is on full display with this coin. Individual branching leaf veins and fine whisker details can be easily seen with the naked eye when examining this coin in hand. Currently tied for the finest graded, this near gem example is nothing short of amazing.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Restrike Proof 1/2 Penny P-1258 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO G.britain 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 ½ Penny P-1248 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1799SOHO G.britain NGC MS 66 RB The 1799 halfpenny currency strikes come up for sale very often, and exceptional examples can be had for relatively little. This would make for an excellent starting point for a new collector of English copper. Given the abundance of these coins, I would urge the buyer to hold out for an example that speaks to their set goals. The current example retains a great deal of original red luster, and the fields are clean of any significant marks. This coin is listed as Very Common. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that over 42 million were minted. This particular example is stellar in many regards, which I detail in the ‘notes” section.

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

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This is one of the most well-preserved examples that I have come across. It looks as though it was taken off the presses and carefully placed in someone’s collection. The fact that it has retained so much of its original red color over the last 221 years is impressive. The slightly reflective fields contrast nicely with the primary devices and make for a pleasing experience when viewing this coin under a light. To make matters more interesting, this coin is housed in an old NGC soapbox holder, which makes me confident that its color is stable. I have a dozen or so of these coins in my collection, and this is my favorite of the lot. As noted by Peck, there are several different variations of the business strike examples. Although not mentioned on the label, this is P-1248, which is distinguished by the five incuse gunports. Given that the variety is not listed on the holder, I have opted to provide census data for those that mark the variety and those that do not. NGC has graded 4 1799 ½ pennies in MS-66 RB (no variety listed) with none higher (they have also graded 2 in MS-66 RD!!!). When the specific variety is noted, NGC has graded 4 in MS-65 RB (no reds), and PCGS has graded 4 MS-65 RB (3 MS-64 RD). Essentially, this coin is a top pop in terms of technical grade across the board; however, it would be a top pop in all senses of the term if the variety were listed on the label.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Copper Proof Farthing P-1278 Ex. Boulton Collection With Shells Great Britain FARTH 1799 G.BRITAIN Ex. Boulton NGC PF 63 BN It is interesting to note that although Boulton was not a coin collector in the traditional sense, his family amassed a rather large selection of Soho pieces even after his death in 1809. Of course, this was likely the byproduct of Watt Jr’s attempt to build an entire set of Soho wares for his personal collection – as it turns out he was the only true collector of the entire lot of people associated with the running of the Soho Mint. It is a bit of speculation, but I imagine the efforts of Watt Jr. resulted in duplicates that were then passed along to the Boulton family. This particular example must have been one of those duplicates and as such its pedigree can be traced back over two centuries to the Boulton Family. As an added bonus, it has retained the original shells that have housed it since its production. This variety is listed as Very Scarce.



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

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

Edge: Grained or obliquely striated

Notes: This is the first purchase I ever made from my friend Bill McKivor. He and I spent a good deal of time discussing the Soho Mint until he passed away in 2021. This piece holds a special sentimental place in my collection, which is only confounded how spectacularly amazing it is in hand. Although not designated as such, both the obverse and reverse have a soft cameo set apart from the rich even milk chocolate color of the fields. Although I believe it is conservatively graded, the pedigree paired with the fact that it has retained its original shells over the last two centuries sets this example in a league of its own. I was fortunate enough to work with NGC to get the coin and shells encapsulated together in a single multi-coin holder, which ensures that the unique history of the shells is in less danger of being lost. This is currently the only graded example of this variety at NGC and none at PCGS.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Restrike Farthing P-1281 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1799 G.britain 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 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1326 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1806SOHO G.britain P-1326 BRONZED PCGS PF 63 Brown Wow, this is a spectacular coin! I had passed on two higher-graded examples of the same type to purchase this coin because I was that impressed with the eye-appeal. The color on this coin is crazy and is parallel only by the 1823 Ireland proof halfpenny I have in my collection. It is a wonder that this coin did not get the cameo designation. I am contemplating sending this one to NGC to see if I can get the coveted star designation. Peck lists this variety as very scarce. As of 10-31-19, there are four graded at NGC. One in 64 and two in 65. Oddly enough, PCGS has not graded any examples with the explicit attribution of P-1326.

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


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

Edge: Obliquely grained

Notes: This has quickly become one of my favorite coins that I own. I can say without a doubt that I would have genuinely regretted not purchasing this coin and going for the higher grade examples. Not to mention, this coin complements the proof Irish halfpenny in my collection. I wish every proof I had in my collection had the same eye appeal and pop that this coin has. This piece has a forever home in my box of 20!
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Penny P-1342 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1806SOHO G.britain Skinner Collection NGC MS 63 BN Much like the 1799 currency strike halfpennies, the 1806 currency strike pennies are real bargains in the larger realm of milled English copper. These coins come up for auction frequently, and a quick search through eBay should yield several NGC or PCGS certified examples in mint state for sale. These are relatively large (35.5 mm) and heavy coins (approx. 18.87 grams) that are rather impressive in hand. I find it interesting to compare one of these monsters next to a U.S. large cents from around the same era. This would also make the top of the list for new acquisitions for those just starting. This coin is listed as very common.

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

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I try very hard to purchase eye-appealing coins, and I can say with confidence that is one of the most eye appealing coins in my collection. The rich chocolate brown paired with the protected red luster and neon blueish green tones makes this coin pop. The primary devices on both the obverse and reverse are in high relief and retain an extraordinary amount of detail. It would be effortless for me to “upgrade” this coin for a higher numerical grade, but I feel as though it may be next to impossible to find another example with better eye appeal. Despite the relatively low grade and value of this coin, it proudly resides in my box of 20. There are currently 19 graded in MS-63, with 83 graded higher and a total of 153 at NGC alone.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Proof ½ Penny P-1371 Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1806SOHO G.britain 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 Proof 1/2 Penny P-1371 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1806SOHO G.britain P-1371 NGC PF 66 BN I picked this coin up raw from a dealer who was motivated to move what he considered “nuisance” world coins. The dealer is a nice enough guy, and he has a phenomenal selection of early U.S. type coinage but rarely has any world coins to speak of. I happened upon this example for a price that I thought was reasonable and later submitted to NGC for grading. Peck lists this as a scarce late Soho strike, which pairs nicely with its bronzed sister (P-1370) and fellow copper sister (P-1371) already in this collection. Usually, this would be considered an upgrade as my other P-1371 is graded a PF-63, but the other example has retained its original shells. This example, however, is the finest graded example at either NGC or PCGS, so to some extent, both of these examples in my collection are unique in their own ways. To any extent, this is a real gem, and I am proud to have yet another spectacular example in my collection. The detailed information about the obverse and reverse design is simply copied from the preceding example.

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

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

Edge: Grained

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

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

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

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is one of the odder pieces in this collection because of the doubling on the obverse. Looking at this coin in hand gives you the illusion of having double vision. This coin was described as “Chocolate brown with attractive highly glossy fields”. I could not agree more with this description. The pictures honestly do not do this coin justice. One needs to hold this coin in hand to get the full effect. This is also one of the coins that have made it my box of 20 only because of how odd it is. This was also the first coin I ever purchased from a large auction house. Given that this is listed as a mint error, I have no way of checking the NGC census to determine how many examples exist like this; however, only one other example is graded by NGC (PF-65), and none at PCGS. I plan to eventually send this coin back to NGC to be regraded as I believe it is under graded.
View Coin 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike ½ Penny P-1383 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1807SOHO G.britain P-1383 BRONZED RESTRIKE NGC PF 63 BN Put simply, this is a spectacular coin. Both the obverse and reverse are beautifully toned with cobalt blue and neon green accents that contrast nicely against the watery mahogany brown surfaces. I tried to capture this in my images but failed at every attempt. I am considering paying to have this coin professionally imaged because it is a shame that others are not able to see its eye-popping appeal because of my lackluster photography skills. Peck lists this coin as very scarce, which seems to be a slight underestimate of its scarcity given the general lack of auction records for this piece. As of 10-26-19, there is only one other graded example at NGC (a PF-64) and none at PCGS.

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

Edge: Plain

Notes: This was an unlikely purchase that I made while my wife and I were vacationing in London last summer. As part of my birthday, my wife gave me a day to drag her from coin shop to coin shop while searching for that perfect coin to mark both our trip and my birthday. I had been to four shops already, and none of them had “the coin” I was looking for. I didn’t want to settle for just anything, and I wanted something that built upon my collection as opposed to something that complimented it. My last stop of the day was A.H Baldwin’s. I walked into their shop and was immediately disappointed by their selection until a clerk came over to help me. He told me the “good stuff” is upstairs. Let me buzz you in and call a specialist to assist you. I ended up meeting a gentleman who shared my passion for early milled English and Irish copper, and we spoke in detail for well over an hour. We pulled numerous trays of coins for me to inspect, and this one caught my attention early. He had some spectacular pieces, but this coin was just coming to mind. After exhausting his inventory, I finally decided to purchase this coin, and I am so thankful that I did. Not only does it build upon my collection, but it marks a special moment in an already exceptional trip that I was fortunate enough to share with my wife. This coin will forever remain in my box of 20.
View Coin 1806 Gilt Proof Farthing P-1287 Ex. Watt Jr. With Shells GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1806 G.britain GILT PATTERN JAMES WATT JR NGC PF 64 ULTRA CAMEO Note the scratches that appear in the pictures are on the slab, not the coin. This will eventually find its way into a new holder.

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



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

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

Edge: Grained

Notes: This piece is a remarkable addition to my growing collection of coins, tokens, and medals that once resided in either the Watt Jr. or Boulton Family collections. It is also a notable deviation from the norm as it stands alone as the only non-impaired gilt proof in my collection. The degree of preservation paired with the unique history of its origin make this a true one-of-a-kind specimen, and I am deeply honored to be its current curator. Without a doubt, this piece has earned a permanent coveted spot in my box of 20. Eventually, I will have this piece placed in a new holder, but for now, I plan to enjoy it as is.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Farthing P-1390 Ex. Boulton Family Great Britain 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 G.BRITAIN P-1390 BRONZED EX. BOULTON FAMILY NGC PF 65 BN Understandably, Matthew Boulton and his successors were very proud of the Soho Mint and the coins that it struck. I assume this pride paired with a need to move otherwise stale inventory lead to the creation of the tight-fitting silver-brass lined shells that occasionally housed the specimen strikes of numerous coins, tokens, and medals. These specimens were no doubt some of the most spectacularly preserved examples of the pieces struck at the Soho Mint. This particular example is missing the silver-lined brass shells that were likely separated from it after leaving the original Boulton collection. A unique piece of Soho history was lost with those shells, and this is partially why I have worked so diligently to preserve the few pieces in my collection that still retain their shells. Peck classifies this as a very scarce late Soho.

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

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

Edge: Grained

Notes: This coin just happened to come up for sale when I had a little extra cash that was otherwise unaccounted for. I paid a slight premium for the pedigree, but I find it so cool that I own a coin that originally belonged to the family that struck the very coins that I am so captivated by. Overall the coin is nicely preserved and displays a beautiful even brown color that one would want to find on a proof copper coin of its age. The holder on this coin is very scratched, and the picture reflects this. At some point, I may send it in to be re-holdered. For now, I will enjoy it as is.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Proof Farthing P-1391 Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 G.britain 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 G.britain P-1403 NGC PF 63 BN From what I can gather, the 1807 restrikes are more challenging to acquire than Peck’s rarity judgment may suggest. Peck lists this coin as scarce; however, examining auction records of the last ten years from the major auction houses, I have only been able to locate three that have been offered. Except for a few minor differences, the restrikes closely resemble their currency strike predecessors and do not entirely possess the proof qualities one would expect. Peck even notes these as ‘proof’ restrikes for this very reason. As of 10/26/19, this is the only example graded at NGC, and none are recorded at PCGS.

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

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

Edge: Plain

Notes: Looking at the pictures may you may not believe this coin is indeed a proof, especially compared to some of the other examples in this collection; however, examining it in hand tells a much different story. The sharply struck details paired with squared rims and reflective fields leaves no room for doubt. I managed to pick this example up for an excellent deal (i.e., roughly 1/3 of the typical selling price), and it straight graded at PF-63 BN with no issues at NGC. Given the relative scarcity of these 1807 restrikes, I would not hesitate to add another addition to my collection should one be offered to me. Not to mention, it is kind of cool to have the only certified example.

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