What comes next? You've been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?
1796 Gold Coast Trade Ackey Ex. James Watt Jr. With Shells & Inscribed Wrapper





Coin Details

Origin/Country: Ghana
Full Grade: NGC PF 66 BN
Owner: coinsandmedals

Set Details

Custom Sets: What comes next? You've been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead?
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Explorer

Owner Comments:

Please note that this is one coin from a three-piece set and the descriptions are similar for all three. This paired with the next two entries represents the entirety of Lot 309 of the James Watt Jr. Collection. The description reads:

“Gold Coast Settlements, Trade Coinage, 1796, bronzed proof ackey, quarter-ackey and taku, obvs., PARLIAMENT correctly spelt on both larger coins, revs., crowned Royal cipher GR in wreath (Vice 2B, 8B, 9B), late Soho and with the die flaws associated with the issue, mint state, in shells and paper wrappers inscribed “African 1 Akie 1796”, “African 2 Takoe 1796” and “African 1 Takoe 1796” respectively (3)."

The lot had an estimated hammer price of £400-600, but it shot past that selling for £1400. What an extreme bargain, even back in 2002. Currently, this piece is a single top-pop at NGC.

Obverse: The obverse design strays from the typical “simplistic elegance” often associated with the coinage struck at the Soho Mint. I will do my best to describe it, but the reader should form their description based on the images provided. The central device is a somewhat oval cartouche divided into two parts. The largest section occupies the lower two-thirds. A three-masted ship with seven gunports is depicted navigating gentle waters. Interestingly, each gunport is occupied by a defined cannon. A Union Jack is mounted at the rear of the ship just above the decorated railing on the quarterdeck while an ensign appears affixed to the bowsprit. A pennant appears at each of the three masts. Horizontal striations delineate the boundary between the upper and lower sections of the cartouche. The upper section depicts a cornucopia on the lower left side, while a beehive appears centered on the right. The beehive is surrounded by eight well-formed and evenly-spaced stars organized in an oval. The outer rim of the cartouche is decorated, but I will omit the minor details in this description. Resting upon the immediate center of the cartouche a tightly twisted coil of material rests under the feet of an elephant. The tusked elephant is depicted facing left with a downward trunk with its back covered by what appears to be a Union Jack. A bannered turret surmounts the elephant's back. A standing figure appears on either side with one hand seemingly supporting the cartouche. The figure on the left is wearing a feathered crown and holding a bow in their right hand. The figure on the right is wearing what is often described as an “elephant headdress” and is holding some unidentified item in their left hand. These figures and the cartouche rest upon an area of foreground divided into two distinct sections. A vine of some sort with flowers appears at their feet. These vines are seemingly hanging out of the mouth of what appears to be a lion that appears at the bottom center of the cartouche. The obverse legend begins close to the toothed border above the right figure. It reads FREE TRADE TO AFRICA • BY ACT • OF PARLIAMENT · 1750 · .

Reverse: The reverse design is the same between all three coins in this set. It depicts the royal cipher “GR” in a script monogram. The outer fringes and thicker limbs of the letters are ornately decorated, but I leave the details of that observation to the reader. It is worth noting that although this reverse design is very similar to that found on Droz’s pattern Six Pence pieces, these dies were almost undoubtedly engraved by Küchler. Floating immediately above the center of the cipher is an ornate crown. The bottom band of the crown is decorated with a pattern of precious stones. The upper portion of this band is separated by a series of small bands, above which the remaining upper portion forms a small series of points in some areas and bisects either fleur de lis or a cross in other areas. A cross appears in the immediate middle of the crown, which is flanked on either side by a fleur de lis. The outermost edges of the crown show what appears to be a slightly curved crown. The top portion of the crown consists of two bridges protruding from the outer curved crosses, one on the left and one on the right, which convene at the top of the center cross. Both bridges are decorated with nine sharply cut beads resting upon a curved bar. A dainty cross with its bottom leg obscured by a large sphere appears balanced by two small beads resting upon the center cross. The crown is positioned in a way that allows the viewer to see the inner ring where it would rest upon the head. This area is decorated with a seemingly random array of indentations to portray texture. The crown separates the date at the top of the coin, with “17” appearing on the left, and “96” appearing on the right. A quintessentially Küchler-designed laurel wreath appears immediately below the cipher. The wreath consists of two branches tied together by a ribbon with one large bow and two loose ends. The left loose end is wrapped over the stem of the right branch while the right loose end is placed below the stem of the left branch. This entire design is contained within a toothed border.

Edge: Plain

Notes: The original order of coinage for the African Company of Merchants occurred in 1796 and consisted of four denominations struck in silver. This original issue had an unfortunate misspelling on the obverse. This point is noted in the auction catalog: “The original issue of these coins was characterised by the mis-spelling “Parliment”, which was corrected when a further supply was ordered in 1801. Vice notes that the 1796 half-ackey from the series was not restruck by Soho, probably because the dies had been damaged or lost.”. To this end, we can be confident that the coin pictured above is struck from the new dies prepared for the 1801 order.

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