British George III Halfpennies and Non regal copies
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4 October 2009
In the 17th and 18th Century there was a shortage of small change in the form of copper Halfpennies and Farthings. It was believed by the ruling elite that coinage should only be stuck in silver and gold and the general public had no need for money for everyday transactions. Britain's economy was booming, the industrial revolution was in full swing and the British Empire was expanding thus putting pressure on the Government to issue base metal coins. Between 1770 and 1775 £46,455 Halfpennies and Farthings were struck but this quantity was not enough as it was expected to cover the currency required in the colonies. This gave rise to both counterfeiting and tokens. The Mint report of 1787 states that only 8% on the copper coinage in circulation "had some tolerable resemblance to the king's coin" Private land and factory owners issued there own money in the form of tokens to pay their workforce i.e 18th century Tokens (sometimes known as Conder Tokens in the US ) . Some Counterfeiters melted down the official issues and restruck lighter weight copies from dies made in Birmingham ( known as Non-Regal issues). Many of the non-regal issues are as good quality as the genuine coin while others are crude copies with spelling and date errors. Others known as Evasions were created to avoid the harsh counterfeiting laws and were weakly struck with false legends such as "British Girls" and "Britons Rule" replacing the Britannia Legend (there are over 200 known varieties). Many of the counterfeits found there way to the colonies and became accepted currency in America ,later giving rise to to the Machin's Mills issues of 1786-1789 which were struck in New York and New England.
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