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1805 Ireland Proof Penny Ex. James Watt Jr. Collection with Original Soho Shells





Coin Details

Origin/Country: IRELAND 1603-1823
Full Grade: NGC PF 65 BN
Owner: coinsandmedals

Owner Comments:

I have a soft spot for the Irish coinage struck at the Soho Mint. I remember being mesmerized by the high-quality Irish pieces from the Boulton Estate when I first discovered Bill McKivor’s website. From that moment on the decision was made – I had to have a nice Irish piece from either the James Watt Jr. or Boulton Family collection. I was fortunate enough to add this blazing example to my collection in 2023. Not only can its ownership be traced over two centuries, but it has also retained the original silver-lined brass shells.

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 bow and two loose ends appear lightly striated. The curls of his hair rest behind the neck and on both shoulders. A brooch of 6 well-defined 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. There is an odd planchet flaw under the “O”. Although not designated on the holder, the obverse has a very deep cameo.

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 the right, which convene at the top center of the cross located in the top middle of the band just described. Both bridges are decorated with ten recut beads resting upon a curved bar. The bottom left interior portion of the crown (used to depict the inner ring where it would rest on the head) is plain. The corresponding right side is missing entirely. 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 several notable flaws throughout most of the letters. The most obvious appear on the H, I, B, and A. Beyond those flaws, all the letters have been double-struck with a slight counterclockwise rotation. The date 1805 appears below the main device with several notable flaws. For instance, the 8 is missing the top and bottom loops. The entire legend is contained within a thin raised rim and beaded borders. Like the obverse, the reverse has a very deep cameo.

Edge: When verifying the certification number, the data reported indicates that this coin has a plain edge. I am unable to verify this because the coin is an older holder with the prongs.

Notes: The pictures do not do this coin justice because the holder is very scuffed, which makes it difficult to photograph. I am surprised that NGC did not at least assign this coin the cameo designation. Overall, this coin is stunning in hand. My only worry is that I may never have the opportunity to find an equivalent halfpenny and farthing to complete the set. This piece appeared as lot 342 of the Watt Jr. auction and fetched a whopping £280 at the time. Sadly, the catalog description mentions an inscribed wrapper that has seemingly been lost to time, but it has retained the original silver-lined brass shells. Notably, this piece was sold as a single-item lot given the large group lots that preceded it in the catalog.

It is worth noting that this piece is marked as a "plain edge restrike", but is more appropriately classified as a "Late Soho" piece as it was not struck by Taylor.

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