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George 3rd coinage

Cartwheel Pennies

Between 1770 and the end of the century the practice of counterfeiting became so prevalent in England that scarcely any genuine British copper coins remained in circulation. The 1770 – 1775 issue was melted in huge quantities and made into lightweight counterfeit coins; the only other pieces in circulation were the merchants’ tokens issued by private firms.

It was during this period that Matthew Boulton offered a solution to the problem by proposing that
a.   each coin should contain its intrinsic value of metal,
b.   a retaining collar should be used to maintain a constant diameter, and
c.   a broad raised rim should be used to save the coin from undue wear.

On June 9th 1797, the government signed a contract with Boulton providing for the coinage of 20 tons of twopences and 480 tons of pennies. The coins were made current on July 26th, 1797, and the one penny piece was to weigh one ounce avoirdupois and correspond as nearly as possible to its nominal value.

They were to be legal tender up to one shilling. A total of £310,885 worth of pennies were coined between  1797 and 1807 by Boulton at the Soho mint. Conrad H Kuchler was the designer. The unique piece dated 1808 was formerly in the Boulton estate.


Copper Farthings

During the 1st 10 years of the reign of George 3rd, no copper pieces were coined other than a small issue totalling £3810, apparently all farthings, struck from dies of George 2nd dated 1754.

In 1771, 1773, 1774 and 1775 copper farthings were struck for George 3rd in the same style and weigh as former years. Then followed a hiatus of 22 years during which time no regal copper coins were issued.

In 1797, a remarkable series of full intrinsic value copper penny and twopenny pieces were issued. Because of their size, they soon became known as ‘cartwheels’. Proof farthings of this type were struck as pattern pieces, but this design was never adopted.

Matthew Boulton started making farthings of a slightly different design in 1799 at his Soho mint. The reverse of this coin has the inscription I.FARTHING around the lower edge. This was the first time that the name of a denomination is given on an English regal coin.

A guide book of English coins, K.E. Bressett, 7th edition 1968