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

Owner:  coinsandmedals
Last Modified:  1/7/2020
  
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 the 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 an issue 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 for seven years. This contract further stipulated several details. Peck notes the most important that these pieces were to be struck using the finest English copper on rolled blanks and 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 as 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 as the contract required. This is likely in part because the English copper was more imperfect than that of 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 impingement on his right to issue high-quality copper coinage. 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 that Mary’s portrait be removed 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 sole 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, but smuggling dies from the Tower Mint to France. Although the charges were dropped, it seems as though his connection with the acquisitions 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 harm 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 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 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 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 the 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. The needs of the poor were quickly becoming a burden to the upper-class.

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 the counterfeiting ran rampant. 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 token, 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 It 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 conscious 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 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 needs of the many have caught the attention of someone in a position to effect change.

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, help 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 secure 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 that would eliminate the issues and boost production. Pence coins were struck through 1797 and ended August of 1799; however, Two Pence production did not begin until January of 1798 and would be 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 alieved. 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 few 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 pronounced 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 needed 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. This introduction provides a very brief review of how social elitism in England impacted society as a whole.

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 to 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!

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) 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 1694 G. Britain ½ Penny P-602 Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1694 NGC XF Details The 1694 William and Mary halfpenny is by far one of the most commonly encountered early milled copper pieces on auctions sites like eBay. The vast majority of these pieces, however, will be well worn and will likely have evidence of extensive environmental damage. Finding a nice well-preserved example without environmental damage and clean fields can be a tricky process. Somewhat occasionally very well preserved pieces come up for auction at some of the larger auction firms, but these usually command very strong premiums. Peck notes numerous varieties, but this is an example of the standard variety. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The obverse portrays the conjoined busts of William III and Mary facing right. The bust of William III is cuirassed (dressed in armor), and Mary is draped. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves but no berries. The wreath is tied in a knot behind the neck with two loose ends that point out and downward. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck only interrupted by his ear. Mary has long, curly hair just above her brow. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · ET · MARIA ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed. This particular example has a beautiful, even brown color, and the details are very strong for a circulated example.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 8 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1694” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. Much like the obverse, the color is an even chocolate brown, and a respectable amount of detail remains.

Edge: plain

Notes: I did not catch the edge damage that NGC detected when I submitted this coin, but even if I had, I would likely have submitted the coin anyway. As noted before, finding nice preserved examples with clean fields can be difficult, and the surface of this coin is exactly what you would want to look for. I will try to find another example of equal eye appeal without the rim damage, but this is very low on my priority list.
View Coin 1694 G. Britain Farthing P-616 Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/4P 1694 NGC VF 30 BN The farthings of William and Mary do not seem to come to auction nearly as frequently as the halfpennies, which can make it even more challenging to find a nice example. The same fundamental limitation exists for the farthings in that most specimens are poorly preserved. If given a chance to acquire a nicely preserved example is VF of above for a reasonable price, I will almost always try to purchase it. However, I may be a bit biased because this is one of my favorite series of milled copper. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The obverse portrays the conjoined busts of William III and Mary facing right. The bust of William III is cuirassed (dressed in armor), and Mary is draped. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves but no berries. The wreath is tied in a knot behind the neck with two loose ends that point out and downward. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. Mary has long, curly hair just above her brow. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · ET · MARIA ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed. This example is very pleasing for a very fine grade. The details of the wreath are bit worn, but overall, a good amount of detail remains, and the fields are a smooth, even brown.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 5 crudely formed leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut double line exergue. Under which the date “1694” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. Much like the obverse, the color is an even chocolate brown, and a respectable amount of detail remains.

Edge: plain

Notes: Overall, this is an excellent circulated example of a tough coin, and I am delighted to have it in my collection. I would eventually love to add a solid uncirculated example to the collection, but given that these seldom come up for sale, it will be some time before I can do so. There are currently nine graded VF-30 BN with 12 graded higher at NGC.
View Coin 1694 G. Britain Farthing Pattern in Silver P-623 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1694 P-623 SILVER NGC PF 35 I have always thought it was odd that the proofs were primarily struck in silver, but this is an example of one. I love the look of this piece even though it seems so odd to see a single piece of silver in a sea of copper. The quality of the strike is noticeably better than the currency strikes in copper, and as such, the details are bold even on this circulated example. Peck lists this coin as rare.

Obverse: The obverse portrays the conjoined busts of William III and Mary facing right. The bust of William III is cuirassed (dressed in armor), and Mary is draped. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 6 leaves but no berries. The wreath may have eight leaves, but the tops of the two top leaves are barely visible on this example. The wreath is tied in a knot behind the neck with two loose ends that point out and downward. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck only interrupted by his ear. Mary has long, curly hair just above her brow. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · ET · MARIA ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed. The fields of this coin are very reflective, and the primary device is boldly detailed. Oddly enough, the letters are poorly made, and no do not seem to conform to the typical block-like letters of the currency strikes. The stop after “GVLIELMVS” is oblong and notably different than the other stops.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 6 crudely formed leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut double line exergue. Under which the date “1694” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the main device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. Much like the obverse, the fields of this coin are very reflective, and the primary device is boldly detailed; however, the letters appear to return to the block-like appearance from the currency strikes.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is one of my first purchases from an auction house based in London. As some of you may know, the British are not as keen on certifying their coins, and as such, a good deal of them must be purchased raw. I the images online were good quality, so I placed an absentee bid and received an email a day later, notifying me that I had won. As with most international packages, it took several weeks to arrive, but I was so pleased when I finally got the coin in hand. I only hope that I can collect all the silver proofs to add to this collection! There are only five graded examples at NGC, 2 of which are in the VF range, and three are uncirculated.
View Coin 1695 G. Britain ½ Penny P-638 Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1695 NGC VF Details I believe this coin was struck on a rolled blank. The smooth surfaces and relatively early date have led me to this conclusion, but I will do a little more digging and update this description when I get a chance. As the introduction mentioned, the copper coinage of William III is notorious for poorly made examples. The contractors cut corners at every opportunity, and even coins that left the presses were often already pitted because they were struck on cast blanks. This particular example has been marked as “Burnished” by NGC, but looking at this coin very carefully, I cannot say I agree with their assessment. To any extent, I respect their opinion, and I am happy to have it in an NGC slab for protection. Peck lists this coin as very scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves and no berries, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 7 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1695” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 1 example. This is an excellent example of an otherwise poorly made series. The fields are smooth, and even, the color is an even brown, and a respectable amount of detail remains. I may eventually crack this coin out and resubmit it.
View Coin 1696 G. Britain ½ Penny P-641 Cast Blank ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1696 S-3554 NGC VF 25 BN The uneven, slightly pitted surfaces of this coin are a dead giveaway that this coin was likely struck on a cast blank. Even the coloring of this piece is noticeably different than that of the other 1696 examples. When I first started out collecting William III copper, I had no idea that some were struck on cast blanks and other on rolled blanks. I had just assumed the difference in quality was just some from environmental damage or maybe only due to the use of English copper and not Swedish. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves and no berries, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 7 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1696” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 1 example. This is an excellent example of a poorly made coin of this series. The fields are rough and pitted, the color is noticeably different than that of the other 1696 example, but a respectable amount of detail remains. There are currently three graded VF-25 BN with two graded in higher grades at NGC.
View Coin 1696 G. Britain ½ Penny P-641 Rolled Blank Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1696 NGC VF 25 BN I believe this coin was struck on a rolled blank. The smooth surfaces and relatively early date have led me to this conclusion. After acquiring the other example in this set, the difference in quality between the two is evident even though they are both graded the same. The issue is not the NGC grading, but rather the difference between a coin struck on a rolled blank versus a cast blank. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves and no berries, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 7 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1696” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 1 example. This is an excellent example of an otherwise poorly made series. The fields are smooth, and even, the color is an even brown, and a respectable amount of detail remains. Although by no means a high-grade example, I am happy to have this coin in my collection. There are currently three graded VF-25 BN with two graded in higher grades at NGC.
View Coin 1697 G. Britain ½ Penny P-647 Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1697 S-3554 NGC VF Details I am not sure what to make of this particular example. The somewhat grainy surfaces make me think this was likely made using a cast blank, but NGC has noted it as “environmental damage”. The designation gives me pause to come to a clear decision. I had examined this coin in some detail before submitting it, and I had thought there was a good chance this coin was struck on a cast blank, which would explain the surfaces so needless to say I was somewhat surprised by the opinion of NGC. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves and no berries, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 7 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1697” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 1 example. As previously noted, I am not entirely satisfied with the designation given by NGC. I may eventually crack this coin out and resubmit.
View Coin 1697 G. Britain ½ Penny P-647 Rolled Blank ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1697 NGC VF 30 BN The smooth, even brown fields of this coin paired with the odd-looking pattern on the tip of the bust is a tall tale sign that this example was struck on a rolled blank. If only the contractors had taken the time to produce all of the coins in this manner, perhaps the series would be more appealing to a more substantial portion of collectors. This is a very nicely struck example of an otherwise horribly made series. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 8 leaves and no berries, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. Neither of which are obstructed by the hair. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held up, clasping an olive branch of 7 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held down and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1697” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device. This is currently the only example graded VF-30 BN with four graded higher at NGC.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 1 example. The fields are smooth, and even, the color is an even brown, and a respectable amount of detail remains. What more could you want from this series?
View Coin 1697 G. Britain ½ Penny P-647 Double Struck Great Britain England 1600-1707 1/2P 1697 ENGLAND DOUBLE STRUCK NGC MINT ERROR F 15 BN I know I keep saying that I do not collect errors, and somehow, they keep showing up in my sets, but this one was just too cool to pass up. Both the obverse and reverse are completely double struck. Although the obverse looks a bit rough, the reverse is much nicer. This is one coin that I wish was placed in the holder with the reverse showing under the label and not the obverse. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The obverse should follow the same basic layout as all the other William halfpennies up to this point, but the double strike makes determining this a bit more complicated. I will allow the pictures to do most of the descriptive work here, as this is well outside of my wheelhouse.

Reverse: The reverse is rather interesting to look at. The first impression is rather apparent is roughly aligned where it should be. The second impression appears just below and seems to have been rotated clockwise by about 10 degrees. I find that to be both really odd and pretty cool. I will let the pictures do the rest of the describing.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is such an odd piece not only because of the double strike but also because of the noticeable difference in the obverse and reverse surfaces. If I ever get the time, I hope that I get to sit down and study this piece in more depth.
View Coin 1699 G. Britain ½ Penny P-687 Rolled Blank Skinner Collection ENGLAND 1600-1707 1/2P 1699 NGC VF Details This is yet another example of this series that I sent to NGC to be graded that came back with a designation that makes no sense to me. I am not sure what made them conclude that this coin has environmental damage, but this would be a good candidate to crack out and resubmit. The relatively smooth surfaces and even brown color make me think this example was struck on a rolled blank. Peck lists this coin as scarce.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of William III facing right appears on the obverse. His hair is adorned with a wreath of 7 leaves, which is tied behind the neck by a knot with two loose ends protruding out and down. The hair obstructs the bottom loose end. Peck notes that three berries occur in the wreath, but this example is too worn to make out those details. Several rows of curly hair protrude from under the wreath just above his brow, and this line of curls extends down his neck, only interrupted by his ear. The legend reads “GVLIELMVS · TERTIVS ·” and is dived by the primary device. The border is toothed.

Reverse: The reverse portrays Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is extended and held down, clasping an olive branch of 4(?) crudely formed leaves and no berries. Her left arm is held up and holds a spear that points between her head and the second “N”. Under her left arm is a slightly slanted shield that bears the combined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. Unlike the previous examples, her right leg crosses her left. The entire primary device rests upon a straight cut single line exergue. Under which the date “1699” appears. The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIA ·” and is divided by the primary device between the first and second “N”. The border is toothed. The digits of the date protrude through the exergue line and nearly touch the bottom of the primary device.

Edge: plain

Notes: Peck classifies the William III copper as either type 1, 2, or 3. This is a type 3 example. Peck notes that this third type is notorious for inferior workmanship and often have letters of different sizes, inverted “V”s used as “A”s and numerous spelling errors. This particular example is free of all those negative attributes. The letters are all normal and roughly equal; there are no spelling errors, and fields are a smooth brown color.
View Coin 1717 G. Britain ½ Penny P-768 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1717 NGC MS 61 BN This was my first example of a “Dump” coin that I had purchased, and I did not know what to expect given the seller's blurry pictures, but I was super happy when I received the coin in hand. Both the obverse and reverse of this coin have a somewhat odd tone that only serves to add to the allure of this piece for me. Given the unusual circumstances of how I came to own it paired with its own merits, this coin has found a home in my box of 20. Peck lists this coin as common.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of George I is depicted facing right. A wreath of 8 leaves and three berries adorns his head, which is tied behind the neck with a tie-riband in a knot with two loose ends. Both of which flow out and down. A line of hair curls protrudes from under the wreath above the brow and extends to his jawline. A small area of flowing hair extends just under his ear and ends in several small curls behind the neck. The horizontal straps on the shoulder and chest plate are plain. The legend “GEORGIVS · REC ·” occurs above the bust but is contained within a raised flat ring, which is further contained within an outer broad toothed border. In this particular example, the inner ring is distinct from the outer toothed border, with a notable exception occurring above the “I” in GEORGIVS.

Reverse: Britannia is seated on a globe facing left wearing slightly tighter fitting drapery. The drapery completely covers her left leg. Her right hand is held out and slightly down, clutching a spray of leaves. Her left arm is raised and pointed up, holding a spear almost at its tip. An upright shield occurs to her left side that contains the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device is situated upon a straight cut exergue line with two lines. The bottom line is noticeably thinner and shorter than the top. The date “1717” appears below. The legend “BRITANNIA” occurs above and divided between the two “N”s. Peck also notes that the leaves do not protrude into the legend.

Edge: Plain

Notes: It appears as though this coin was struck on a clashed die. An indentation of the olive branch from the reverse is present just below the two loose ends on the obverse. Faint indentations from the obverse details can be seen throughout the reverse. From numerous auction catalogs and Peck’s notes, it appears that this is a common occurrence on these pieces. I love the look of this coin, and I am super proud to have this example in my collection. After looking at other examples graded numerically higher, I think I would be hard-pressed to find another example with better eye appeal. This is currently the only example graded MS-61BN with 12 in higher grades.
View Coin 1736 G. Britain Farthing P-864 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1736 NGC AU 55 BN By all accounts, this is not the most expensive nor most impressive coin in my collection, but the excellent eye appeal paired with the even color makes it deserving of its place. This is a coin I purchased a whim for next to nothing and decided to have graded. This was more so just a test of my grading ability than any half-hearted attempt to add value to my collection. This is just a pleasing circulated example of a 283-year-old piece of copper. Peck lists this coin as very common.

Obverse: George II is depicted facing left wearing armor with five plates on the shoulder as opposed to the six generally found on the halfpenny. A wreath of 8 leaves and three berries occur in his hair, which tied behind his neck in a knot with two loose ends. Both of which are relatively straight and point downward. Numerous hair curls protrude from under the wreath and connect with others to form an unbroken line of curls that extends to the neck. The legend “GEORGIVS · II · REX ·” occurs above but is divided by the bust between “GEORGIVS” and “II”. The toothed border is unusually broad.

Reserve: Britannia is seated on a globe facing left wearing slightly tighter fitting drapery. The drapery completely covers her left leg. Her right hand is held out and slightly down, clutching a branch of 7 leaves. Her left arm is raised and pointed up, holding a spear almost at its tip. An upright shield occurs to her left side that contains the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The entire primary device is situated upon a straight cut exergue line with two lines. The bottom line is noticeably longer than the top but does not extend beyond the width of the device. The date “1736” appears below in small letters. The legend “BRITANNIA” occurs above and divided between the two “N”s. The spacing of the last three letters is uneven, and this most noticeable between the second “I” and the last “A”. Peck also notes that the leaves do not protrude into the legend. The toothed border is unusually broad.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This is simply a super attractive example of a lightly circulated farthing. Enough detail remains to give the viewer a good idea of what the design was intended to look like without the added expense of a mint state example. I wish I had the opportunity to add more pieces like this to my collection for the same price. There are currently four graded AU-55 BN and 5 in higher grades at NGC alone.
View Coin 1771 G. Britain ½ Penny P-898 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1771 NGC MS 62 BN You would think that tracking down a nice example of the earlier issues by George III would be more complicated because of the extensive counterfeiting that led to so many being melted. Still, overall these coins are not difficult to track down in mint state. This particular example has a spectacular reverse but an average obverse. Peck lists this coin as very common.

Obverse: The cuirassed bust of George III faces right with a wreath of 9 leaves and three berries in his hair, which is tied behind the neck with a riband with one loop and two loose ends. Both loose ends are curvy and flow downward with the uppermost end slightly pointing out. Peck notes that the right shoulder armor is adorned with a strap of 6 scales and five plates. He further describes the breastplate as having a strap with scales and a central boss. The legend “GEORGIVS · III · REX ·B” occurs above and is divided by the bust. The border is toothed.

Reverse: This is a type A reverse which depicts Britannia seated on a globe facing left wearing slightly loose-fitting drapery. Her right hand is held out and slightly down, clutching a branch of leaves. Her left arm is raised and pointed up, holding a spear just below a ball that separates the tip. An upright shield occurs to her left side that contains the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. The bottom lines under the shield are curved. The entire primary device is situated upon a straight cut exergue line with two lines. The top line is noticeably longer than the bottom and extends beyond the width of the device almost to the rim. The date “1771” appears below. The legend “BRITANNIA” occurs above and divided between the two “N”s. The border is toothed.

Edge: plain

Notes: I wish the obverse was as lovely as the reverse. The reverse has a vibrant chocolate brown color, which is further illuminated by an iridescent orange tone. The details are boldly struck. The obverse is average for the type but still retains a beautiful, even brown color and boldly struck details. Overall I am happy with this coin for this set and do not see a need to find an “upgrade” in the near future. There are currently 16 graded at MS-62 BN and 31 in higher grades at NGC alone.
View Coin 1788 G. Britain ½ Penny Copper Pattern P-945 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1788 P-945 COPPER PATTERN Skinner Collection NGC PF 50 BN This is one of the numerous pattern halfpennies designed by Jean Pierre Droz struck at the Soho Mint. Peck lists this coin as an early Soho strike. It is listed as very rare.

Obverse: Depicts George III’s undraped bust facing right with a wreath of 10 leaves and three berries. The signature D.F. is absent from the truncation of the shoulder. A noticeable flaw occurs at the bottom edge of the coin under the shoulder protruding from the narrow wire rim with a toothed border. The obverse legend as follows: GEORGIUS III ◊ D ◊ G ◊ REX ◊ (even spacing).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes: This was the second example of a Droz pattern piece had I purchased, and although I much enjoy this coin, it is an example of why one should always buy the book before the coin. Had I known beforehand that this particular variety was relatively common among the series, I may have opted to hold out for an uncirculated example. Nonetheless, I do find the coin to have an undeniable character. Although impaired, the fields are reflective, and a good deal of gilt remains. The areas where the gilt has worn off further attests to the desperate need for circulating copper in Britain. This is a gilt piece that would have been stunning when first struck, and yet the demand outweighed the beauty, and this piece found its way into circulation. This is currently the only PF-35 example graded at NGC, but there are eight more in higher grades at NGC alone, with another three graded higher examples at PCGS.
View Coin 1790 G. Britain ½ Penny Bronzed Restrike P-1007 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1790 P-1007 BRONZED RESTRIKE NGC PF 63 BN This is an example of a bronzed restrike of one of Droz’s pattern halfpennies. Please note that there is a difference between a bronze coin and a bronzed coin. A bronze coin has been struck using the metal bronze; however, a bronzed coin is a coin likely struck in copper that has had been brushed with a “bronze” agent that helps seal the surfaces of the coin and protect its color. This is undoubtedly one of the many pieces struck by Taylor after purchasing the dies from the Soho auction in the 1850s. It is listed as rare.

Obverse: Oddly enough, the obverse of this coin is an alteration of that found on the 1793 Bermuda Pennies struck at the Soho Mint. King George III is facing right “DROZ F” appears at the truncation of the shoulder. The point of the bust is well rounded in high relief and comes close to the toothed border and wire rim. The hair ends with three large curls, which all form closed circles. A large cluster of hair is present under the bust. The obverse legend as follows: GEORGIUS III ◊ D ◊ G ◊ REX followed by a flower.

Reverse: Britannia seated on globe facing left with her right-hand pointing left. Her left hand is resting on an oval shield with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored). A spear rests against the shield and is superimposed on a laurel branch. The date “1790” is in exergue and is neatly framed by two modern quatrefoils. Immediately preceding the left quatrefoil, the initials DR · F · is present. Reverse legend as follows: BRITANNIA followed by a flower.

Edge: Plain

Notes: This coin is fantastic in hand. The sole distracting mark is the rather large carbon spot on George IIIs cheek. As you may have noticed, this coin does not have a Skinner Collection pedigree, which denotes that I purchased this coin already graded by NGC. I picked this coin up through an auction house and ended up paying less for it already graded than I would have paid for a less attractive raw example. As my first uncirculated proof restrike, I will likely never sell it, but I am actively pursuing options to acquire another. Luckily, this particular example seems to be reasonably abundant in the market at the time. This coin has been described as “Splendidly choice and richly chocolaty, notably few marks of evidence of handling detectable in the fields for the assigned grade”. This is an accurate description of the piece, and as I said before, it is most impressive in hand. This is the only PF-63 example with only 2 in higher grades at NGC. PCGS only has three examples, all of which are higher, 64 (2), and 66 (1). Previously part of the Lake County Collection.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain Gilt Proof 2 Pence P-1073 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 2P 1797 SOHO P-1073 GILT RESTRIKE NGC PF Details Although erroneously listed as a “restrike” on the label, Peck lists this coin as a late Soho piece. Remember, the term late Soho refers to a coin struck at the Soho Mint likely after the date on the coin. A restrike, according to Peck, refers to a coin struck much later by Taylor after he purchased the dies from the Soho Mint in the 1850s. Peck had enough data to suggest that this coin was struck at Soho and, therefore, should have been denoted at a gilt proof and not a “Restrike”. Oddly enough, this coin was purchased in an old NCS holder with a details grade for being “Plated”. It seems as though at the time NGC or NCS did not notice this was, in fact, a gilt proof and instead proceeded to treat it as a currency strike, hence the details grade for being “Plated”. NGC handled the situation very well, and they were able to confirm the appropriate variety designation. As always, NGC's customer service was top notch. It is listed as very rare.

Obverse: The 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.

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 Bronzed Proof Penny P-1122 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1797SOHO P-1122 BRONZED Skinner Collection NGC PF 62 BN I sent this coin back to NGC for review, and they have 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 several 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.

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.

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. My fingers are crossed that it comes back as the proof, but if it does not, this is still a very scarce coin with the 11 leaves obverse. There are currently only 8 of the 11 leaves obverse business strikes in all grades at NGC compared to the 231 non-11 leaves varieties. There are presently one graded MS-62 with four higher at NGC.
View Coin 1797 G. Britain 10 Leaves Obverse Penny P-1132 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 PENNY 1797SOHO 10 Leaves Obv. Skinner Collection NGC AU 58 BN This is an example of a 1797 currency strike penny struck at the Soho Mint. This is by no means a rare coin and of the two currency types, the ten leaves obverse and the 11 leaves obverse, this is by far the most common. For those of you interested in getting your collection started, the 1797 10 leaves penny is a real bargain for the series. These coins are relatively large and often can be found with beautiful, even brown color. If looking at these coins raw, be sure to find an example that is free of rim bumps.

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

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

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

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 Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1234 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO P-1234 BRONZED PATTERN NGC PROOF Details The 1799 Penny pieces mark a point of further renovation on the part of Matthew Bolton. The prior contract with the British government to strike Pence and 2 Pence coins for England nearly destroyed the Soho mint. The giant rims and thick planchet did not agree with the presses he had at the time. The dies broke often, and the machines struggled to keep pace, and production suffered. The renovation of the steam engine paired with the presses gave rise to the 2nd Soho mint that these coins would be struck in. As noted in the introduction, the designs of the coins were changed to help eliminate some of the issues from the prior contract. The rims were made thin, the fields were concaved, and the security edge was added. All of these steps helped boost production while still maintaining the integrity of the work done at the Soho Mint. This is an example of one of the numerous patterns struck at the Soho mint with the new design details. Peck notes that the British Museum secured three examples from the Roberts Collection (1808) and the Banks Collection (1818). This fact, paired with the workmanship, led Peck to classify this as an Early Soho strike. They are listed as Scarce.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right with the typical wreath of 11 leaves but in much detail than usual. The veins of the leaves can be seen branching from the center on most. The wreath is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. In keeping with the immense detail, the upper riband loop is striated horizontally (e.g., small lines embellish the areas mentioned). A K followed by a single dot (i.e., K.) appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, which is caught by a clasp of 6 square jewels. The two center jewels of the brooch are slightly out of line. Peck also notes that a flaw shaped like a comma often occurs in the drapery just under the neckline. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing). This particular example has two noticeable scratches, one protruding from the forehead to the rim, and another across the neck extending about a quarter of the way across the field in front of the bust.

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This coin was purchased at auction raw. The seller suggested it was a proof coin but made no effort to sell it as such. The scratches were apparent, but the eye appeal was too strong to pass up. I knew this coin would yield a details grade by NGC, but I did not want to let a 200-year-old coin to get further damaged in my collection, and I figured the best way to protect it was to have it encapsulated. After all, we are only temporary curators of these pieces, and I believe every effort should be made to preserve them for future generations. Peck notes that this piece is relatively common in relation to the other 1799 pattern halfpennies and that this likely prevented Taylor from producing restrikes. It appears that Bolton was proud of this example and struck many at the Soho Mint. A total of 14 examples have been graded by NGC and another three at PCGS.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Proof Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1246 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1799SOHO P-1246 BRONZED PATTERN NGC PF 64 BN Acquiring this coin was somewhat of a battle. The seller and I went back and forth on the price for weeks until we finally agreed on terms that worked for both of us. I ended up purchasing this coin for an extremely reasonable price. This near gem example is stunning in hand. Except for the obverse carbon spots, this near gem is exactly what you would want on a 220-year-old proof coin. Peck lists this coin as scarce, which seems reasonable. As of 10-26-19, there are currently five graded at NGC (i.e., two at PF-63 and three at PF-64). There are currently none at PCGS.

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

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

Edge: Obliquely grained

Notes: The attention to detail and quality one would expect from the Soho mint is on full display with this coin. Individual branching leaf veins and fine whisker details can be easily seen with the naked eye when examining this coin in hand. Currently tied for the finest graded, this near gem example is nothing short of amazing.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain ½ Penny P-1248 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/2P 1799SOHO Skinner Collection NGC MS 64 RB The 1799 halfpenny currency strikes come up for sale very often, and exceptional examples can be had for relatively little. This would make for an excellent starting point for a new collector of English copper. Given the abundance of these coins, I would urge the buyer to hold out for an example that speaks to their set goals. The current example retains a great deal of original red luster, and the fields are clean of any significant marks. This coin is listed as Very Common.

Obverse: The bust of George III faces right. A wreath of 11 leaves rest on his head and is tied behind the neck by a riband with one loop and two loose ends. A single dot (.) appears on the lowest fold of the drapery, which is caught by a clasp of 6 square jewels. Peck notes that the position of the folds and dot varies with different working dies. The legend occurs within a thin raised rim and toothed border that reads as follows: GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX (even spacing).

Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with 14 leaves and no berries. Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her grasp of which the middle prong points just left of the first limb of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield with a thin raised rim adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her about halfway down her leg. Three raised dots appear in a triangle shape on the rock to the right of the shield. The date “1799” occurs just under the curved sea with the “1” completely separated from the sea. The reverse of this coin is spectacular, and the reddish fields contrast nicely with the brown device to create what almost creates the illusion of a cameo in hand (keep in mind this is a business strike and as such a cameo would not be possible). The legend occurs within the thin raised rim and toothed border and reads as follows: BRITANNIA with the date appearing at the bottom of the coin just under the primary device.

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This coin was somewhat of a gamble when I purchased it off of eBay some time ago. The seller posted very out of focus pictures of the coin in an old scuffed up cardboard 2x2 holder that was labeled with the grade XF. It was difficult to distinguish any significant details of the coin, but the color made me think that it was likely an uncirculated example. Worst case scenario, it might have been an XF coin that been harshly cleaned, but the quality of the pictures made it impossible for me to come to a definite conclusion. When I got the coin in hand, it was clear that the surfaces were original and that it was an uncirculated example. I was very pleased — this one of the most delightful examples I have seen for the assigned grade. The underlying red in the fields is intense and contrasts very well with the brown color of the devices. The fields are clean, and the coin has, in my opinion, the merits of an MS-65 example. This was also my first “+” graded coin I received back from NGC. There currently four graded MS-64+ RB at NGC with 97 in higher grades.
View Coin 1799 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Restrike Farthing P-1281 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1799 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.

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.

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.

The images are from the seller. Note that the numerous scratches and scuffs are on the holder and not the coin. I plan to image this coin myself once it returns from NGC.
View Coin 1805 G. Britain Bronzed Restrike Pattern ½ Penny P-1309 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1805SOHO P-1309 COPPER RESTRIKE PCGS PF 64 Brown This coin is erroneously labeled as a Penny when it is, in fact, a halfpenny (30.5 mm and not 35.5 mm). The ‘Britanniarum” pieces are some of the more exciting restrikes made by Taylor. The obverse portrait used on these coins is different from their Irish counterparts, and the reverse dies are retouched from those used to strike some of the rarer coins struck at the Soho Mint. This was my first “English” coin bearing the portrait meant for the Irish coinage. Peck lists this as Very Scarce.

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

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

Edge: Plain

Notes: I love the combination of the Irish obverse portrait with the English reverse. This is mostly due to my partiality for the Irish coins struck at the Soho Mint. This was somewhat of an impulse buy. I had just lost an auction that I wanted, and this was on my watched list. With the “new found” funds, I was able to secure this example for my collection. It has been described as “an even brown representative with subdued luminosity to the surfaces and hardly a mark visible”. This description hits the head on the nail. The color is exactly what you would want, and the fields are free from any distracting marks. This coin is currently tied with one other example for the finest graded at PCGS, with only 1 graded higher at NGC. Previously part of the Lake County Collection.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Proof Penny P-1326 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS PENNY 1806SOHO P-1326 BRONZED PCGS PF 63 Brown Wow, this is a spectacular coin! I had passed on two higher-graded examples of the same type to purchase this coin because I was that impressed with the eye-appeal. The color on this coin is crazy and is parallel only by the 1823 Ireland proof halfpenny I have in my collection. It is a wonder that this coin did not get the cameo designation. I am contemplating sending this one to NGC to see if I can get the coveted star designation. Peck lists this variety as very scarce. As of 10-31-19, there are four graded at NGC. One in 64 and two in 65. Oddly enough, PCGS has not graded any examples with the explicit attribution of P-1326.

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

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

Edge: Obliquely grained

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

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

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I try very hard to purchase eye-appealing coins, and I can say with confidence that is one of the most eye appealing coins in my collection. The rich chocolate brown paired with the protected red luster and neon blueish green tones makes this coin pop. The primary devices on both the obverse and reverse are in high relief and retain an extraordinary amount of detail. It would be effortless for me to “upgrade” this coin for a higher numerical grade, but I feel as though it may be next to impossible to find another example with better eye appeal. Despite the relatively low grade and value of this coin, it proudly resides in my box of 20. There are currently 19 graded in MS-63, with 83 graded higher and a total of 153 at NGC alone.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Bronzed Pattern ½ Penny P-1370 GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/2P 1806SOHO P-1370 BRONZED PCGS PF 65 Brown I am somewhat amused by how I acquired this coin. It seems to have slipped through the cracks of an auction. It has all of the hallmarks that typically lead to bidding wars. Although I am not a plastic collector, the coin is housed an old green label holder that was used from January 1990 to February 1993. The holder itself is likely older than I am and yet mostly looks brand new. The part that matters is that this piece is a real gem. The fields are evenly toned, and the details are sharp. The only blemish occurs on the obverse between “R” and “G” in GEORGIUS. Despite this, I was the sole bidder. Peck does list this variety as a late Soho piece and denotes it as common, suggesting that a good number were struck. Although Peck’s rarity scale is a good starting place, one must remember the collections he had at his disposal.

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

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. A brooch of 8 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The eighth or topmost jewel is noticeably smaller than the others. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left), which is superimposed by the letter K followed by a dot, both of which are raised. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and toothed border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust.

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

Edge: Grained

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

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

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

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

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

Edge: Grained

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

Acknowledgments: I have used NGC for almost all of my grading needs over the better portion of a decade, and not once have I been disappointed. I came to NGC as a humble collector with a simple goal of preserving what I thought was an exciting piece of history. I wanted the shells to be preserved alongside the coin so that there was no risk of the shells being lost. This request was complicated and created a series of unique and challenging obstacles, mainly the use of a multi-coin holder that was not designed to accommodate my request. To my surprise, although in hindsight, I should not have been given the level of service I have experienced, NGC was accommodating and worked diligently to fulfill my request. Now, thanks to the dedication and hard work of NGC, the unique history told by the silver-lined Soho Mint shells will be preserved alongside this coin for future generations to enjoy. I could not be happier with how this turned out. I want to personally thank Mr. Scott Heller and the entire NGC staff, who helped make this wishful idea a reality.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain 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.

Edge: Plain

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

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two loose ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The loops are striated. A brooch of 8 jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The third and sixth jewels are broken off. The lowest fold of the drapery is “obliquely striated” (i.e., a series of lines titled to the left) which is superimposed by the letter K. The legend which is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust. This coin has some major color! My pictures make it look super dark, but in hand, the entire coin is accented with neon blue and fluorescent green tones.

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

Edge: Plain

Notes: This was an unlikely purchase that I made while my wife and I were vacationing in London last summer. As part of my birthday, my wife gave me a day to drag her from coin shop to coin shop while searching for that perfect coin to mark both our trip and my birthday. I had been to four shops already, and none of them had “the coin” I was looking for. I didn’t want to settle for just anything, and I wanted something that built upon my collection as opposed to something that complimented it. My last stop of the day was A.H Baldwin’s. I walked into their shop and was immediately disappointed by their selection until a clerk came over to help me. He told me the “good stuff” is upstairs. Let me buzz you in and call a specialist to assist you. I ended up meeting a gentleman who shared my passion for early milled English and Irish copper, and we spoke in detail for well over an hour. We pulled numerous trays of coins for me to inspect, and this one caught my attention early. He had some spectacular pieces, but this coin was just coming to mind. After exhausting his inventory, I finally decided to purchase this coin, and I am so thankful that I did. Not only does it build upon my collection, but it marks a special moment in an already exceptional trip that I was fortunate enough to share with my wife. This coin will forever remain in my box of 20.
View Coin 1806 G. Britain Proof Farthing P-1391 Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815 1/4P 1806 Soho Peck-1391 NGC PF 64 BN This description is a near replication of that from the ½ Penny paired with the original shells. Although this is not the rarest variety of the series, the fact that it has remained paired with its original silver-lined bronzed shell casing makes it somewhat unique. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Matthew Boulton was a man of many talents. In addition to striking some of the highest quality pieces the world had ever seen at the time, he also produced numerous trinkets and novelties that were highly sought after by the upper class. It should be no surprise that he was able to put his substantial talent to use to preserve further the coins he produced. Matthew Boulton took great pride in the proof coins he created, and on special occasions, he would make tightly fitted pressed silver-lined brass cases (often called shells) to house them in. These particular example has remained paired with their original shells for at least the last 200 years. It is exceedingly difficult to find specimens still paired with the original shells. Part of this is because, without the context of the coin, the shells are nondescript and have little meaning. However, when paired with the coin, the shells attest to the detail and attention paid on behalf of Boulton. The majority of the Soho pieces that have been sold paired with their original shells came from the sales of either the Boulton or Watt family holdings. Although it would be enticing to say these coins came from either of those collections, I cannot claim one direction or the other. These pieces were described at auction as part of the Walker Collection. The following is the excerpt from the auction catalog:

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

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

Obverse: George III is depicted on the obverse. Peck notes this obverse portraying portrait one, which is distinct from two in that the whiskers above the ear are detailed with incuse lines. Furthermore, the two lowest leaves are overlapped by a strand of hair. He is facing right adorned with a wreath of 10 leaves, which is tied behind his neck by a riband of two loops and two ends that point down and run along the back of his neck. The lowest loop of the rie-band is detached and does not form a perfect loop. The loose end closest to his neck disappears into the fold of his drapery. A brooch of 7 perfectly formed jewels on the right shoulder catches the drapery. The lowest fold of the drapery is plain, which encloses an incuse letter “K”. The legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded border and is as follows: GEORGIUS III · D: G · REX. with the date appearing at the bottom below the bust.
Reverse: Britannia is depicted facing left wearing a close-fitting drapery sitting on a rock surrounded by waves. Her right arm is extended, and her hand holds an olive-branch with seven leaves and no berries. Most of the leaves are detached from the twig (i.e., 5 of the 7). Her left arm is down with a trident clasped in her hand, of which the middle prong points to the right side of the middle of the 2nd “N” in Britannia. An oval shield that adorns the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew (heraldically colored) is to her left side. To the right of the shield is a banner with the Soho mint mark which reads “SOHO”. Please note that a line is present under the mintmark. To the left of the shield is the letter K. A 3 masted warship appears in the sea in front of her. The sea is not curved like that of the 1799 halfpennies but is instead straight, leaving a clear exergue. The legend BRITANNIA is contained within a thin outer rim and a beaded border (even spacing).

Edge: Grained

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

Acknowledgments: I have used NGC for almost all of my grading needs over the better portion of a decade, and not once have I been disappointed. I came to NGC as a humble collector with a simple goal of preserving what I thought was an exciting piece of history. I wanted the shells to be preserved alongside the coin so that there was no risk of the shells being lost. This request was complicated and created a series of unique and challenging obstacles, mainly the use of a multi-coin holder that was not designed to accommodate my request. To my surprise, although in hindsight, I should not have been given the level of service I have experienced, NGC was accommodating and worked diligently to fulfill my request. Now, thanks to the dedication and hard work of NGC, the unique history told by the silver-lined Soho Mint shells will be preserved alongside this coin for future generations to enjoy. I could not be happier with how this turned out. I want to personally thank Mr. Scott Heller and the entire NGC staff, who helped make this wishful idea a reality.
View Coin 1807 G. Britain Proof Restrike Farthing P-1403 Skinner Collection GREAT BRITAIN - PATTERNS 1/4P 1807 P-1403 NGC PF 63 BN From what I can gather, the 1807 restrikes are more challenging to acquire than Peck’s rarity judgment may suggest. Peck lists this coin as scarce; however, examining auction records of the last ten years from the major auction houses, I have only been able to locate three that have been offered. Except for a few minor differences, the restrikes closely resemble their currency strike predecessors and do not entirely possess the proof qualities one would expect. Peck even notes these as ‘proof’ restrikes for this very reason. As of 10/26/19, this is the only example graded at NGC, and none are recorded at PCGS.

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

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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