With the news of Canada ending its production of pennies, I thought I’d take the opportunity during the brief interest in coinage to share an interesting half-penny from my own coin collection.
This is a half-penny from Great Britain struck in 1795. During that time, the British government was having a little difficulty striking enough coins for every day commerce, so business owners began striking their own. This half-penny was struck by WM Forster, a “Violin, Tenor, & Violoncello Maker”. So.. a music shop!
Makes sense then that the front (obverse) of the coin should feature a musical score. It’s the opening notes to “God Save The King” (same as “My Country, Tis of Thee”) surrounding a crown and the date.
The back (reverse) of the coin features the shop name, the address and the Prince of Wales’s crest.
Imagine buying a new violin bow and receiving these as change from the shop’s owner. And each shop had their own designs and names on their coins. (Back in the day coinage was made out of precious metals like gold and silver and pure copper which are all worth something on their own, and don’t need to be officially minted by a government body to give them intrinsic value.)
So yeah. Just thought I’d share. This is currently the oldest coin in my collection. Because these were privately minted there is no official record of how many were made, but it’s estimated that between only 150 to 300 of these coins have survived.
(PS the little white handles at the edge keep the coin in place and on display. This coin was authenticated and appraised by NGC, and they then place every coin they authenticate inside a sonically sealed plastic case that also contains a barcode which, when scanned, links to an image of the coin, its value and other information. Having NGC appraise a coin helps determine its value and makes them easier to sell when the time comes.)
I’m an Englishman and I approve this coinage. Fascinating stuff - and how cool is it that God Save The King(/Queen) is printed around it?! Very damn cool.