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1806 Gilt Proof Farthing P-1387 Ex. Watt Jr. With Shells





Coin Details

Item Description: 1/4P 1806 G.britain GILT PATTERN JAMES WATT JR
Owner: coinsandmedals

Owner Comments:

Note the scratches that appear in the pictures are on the slab, not the coin. This will eventually find its way into a new holder.

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

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

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

Edge: Grained

Notes: This piece is a remarkable addition to my growing collection of coins, tokens, and medals that once resided in either the Watt Jr. or Boulton Family collections. It is also a notable deviation from the norm as it stands alone as the only non-impaired gilt proof in my collection. The degree of preservation paired with the unique history of its origin make this a true one-of-a-kind specimen, and I am deeply honored to be its current curator. Without a doubt, this piece has earned a permanent coveted spot in my box of 20. Eventually, I will have this piece placed in a new holder, but for now, I plan to enjoy it as is.

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