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1799 G. Britain ½ Penny P-1248 Skinner Collection





Coin Details

Origin/Country: GREAT BRITAIN 1707-1815
Item Description: 1/2P 1799SOHO G.britain
Full Grade: NGC MS 66 RB
Owner: coinsandmedals

Owner Comments:

The 1799 halfpenny currency strikes come up for sale very often, and exceptional examples can be had for relatively little. This would make for an excellent starting point for a new collector of English copper. Given the abundance of these coins, I would urge the buyer to hold out for an example that speaks to their set goals. The current example retains a great deal of original red luster, and the fields are clean of any significant marks. This coin is listed as Very Common. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that over 42 million were minted. This particular example is stellar in many regards, which I detail in the ‘notes” section.

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

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: This is one of the most well-preserved examples that I have come across. It looks as though it was taken off the presses and carefully placed in someone’s collection. The fact that it has retained so much of its original red color over the last 221 years is impressive. The slightly reflective fields contrast nicely with the primary devices and make for a pleasing experience when viewing this coin under a light. To make matters more interesting, this coin is housed in an old NGC soapbox holder, which makes me confident that its color is stable. I have a dozen or so of these coins in my collection, and this is my favorite of the lot. As noted by Peck, there are several different variations of the business strike examples. Although not mentioned on the label, this is P-1248, which is distinguished by the five incuse gunports. Given that the variety is not listed on the holder, I have opted to provide census data for those that mark the variety and those that do not. NGC has graded 4 1799 ½ pennies in MS-66 RB (no variety listed) with none higher (they have also graded 2 in MS-66 RD!!!). When the specific variety is noted, NGC has graded 4 in MS-65 RB (no reds), and PCGS has graded 4 MS-65 RB (3 MS-64 RD). Essentially, this coin is a top pop in terms of technical grade across the board; however, it would be a top pop in all senses of the term if the variety were listed on the label.

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