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1799 G. Britain Copper Proof Farthing P-1278 Ex. Boulton Collection With Shells





Coin Details

Origin/Country: Great Britain
Item Description: FARTH 1799 G.BRITAIN Ex. Boulton
Full Grade: NGC PF 63 BN
Owner: coinsandmedals

Owner Comments:

It is interesting to note that although Boulton was not a coin collector in the traditional sense, his family amassed a rather large selection of Soho pieces even after his death in 1809. Of course, this was likely the byproduct of Watt Jr’s attempt to build an entire set of Soho wares for his personal collection – as it turns out he was the only true collector of the entire lot of people associated with the running of the Soho Mint. It is a bit of speculation, but I imagine the efforts of Watt Jr. resulted in duplicates that were then passed along to the Boulton family. This particular example must have been one of those duplicates and as such its pedigree can be traced back over two centuries to the Boulton Family. As an added bonus, it has retained the original shells that have housed it since its production. This variety is listed as Very Scarce.

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

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

Edge: Grained or obliquely striated

Notes: This is the first purchase I ever made from my friend Bill McKivor. He and I spent a good deal of time discussing the Soho Mint until he passed away in 2021. This piece holds a special sentimental place in my collection, which is only confounded how spectacularly amazing it is in hand. Although not designated as such, both the obverse and reverse have a soft cameo set apart from the rich even milk chocolate color of the fields. Although I believe it is conservatively graded, the pedigree paired with the fact that it has retained its original shells over the last two centuries sets this example in a league of its own. I was fortunate enough to work with NGC to get the coin and shells encapsulated together in a single multi-coin holder, which ensures that the unique history of the shells is in less danger of being lost. This is currently the only graded example of this variety at NGC and none at PCGS.

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