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1805 Ireland Proof Penny Skinner Collection with Original Soho Shells





Coin Details

Origin/Country: Ireland 1603-1823
Item Description: PENNY 1805 IRELAND Skinner Collection
Full Grade: NGC PF 64 RB
Owner: coinsandmedals

Owner Comments:

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

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

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

Edge: Engrailed

Notes: I took my time to locate a choice and highly original example of the 1805 proof Irish Penny and I am so glad that I did. This coin is stunning in hand and if it were not for the slightest break in frost on the obverse, I think this coin would have received the coveted cameo designation. The strong contrast between the main devices and the fields paired with the fiery red luster make for an enjoyable viewing experience, but perhaps even more impressive is the fact this coin has retained its original silver-lined brass shells for well over two centuries. Thanks to NGC I can now rest assured that the shells will not be separated from the coin as they are now encapsulated in one holder. Despite the backlog of orders, staff shortages, and endless customer demands, NGC still took the time to help a small-time collector like me. In my opinion, that says a lot about the integrity of the company.

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