The official coinage of British West Africa has been well documented and catalogued. This note focusses on the prevalence of contemporary counterfeiting in British West Africa of the silver, tin-brass, and nickel-brass coins and the later white metal counterfeits of the cupro-nickel coins of the British Protectorate of Nigeria.
This note is about a recently (re)discovered short article, from 1899, giving a full description of the trial of the Leeds goldsmith, Arthur Mangy, for counterfeiting. On a first read of the main text, something about the trial didn’t seem quite correct. A second read and working through the original footnotes revealed that the original authors also had reservations about the judicial process. Mangy was tried on the evidence of a single accomplice who had turned King’s evidence, but whose testimony was later discredited. The counterfeiting and clipping was taking place at the time of the Great Recoinage and Mangy was alleged to be buying clippings from full hammered coins and debasing the silver before striking counterfeit milled shillings of Charles II. During the trial there is evidence of attempted witness nobbling by the accused, as well as the controller of the York Mint being surreptitiously called in to act as a witness for the defence. Mangy was tried on
This note presents a very unusual and easily overlooked counterfeit of a small silver milled coin.
A previous note presented a few contemporary counterfeit shillings of Charles I. (Link). These either displayed the EBOR mint signature or showed a declaration type similar to the official Oxford Issues. Punch links suggested connections between the different types. Recently the British Museum has photographed and uploaded its Charles I counterfeit shillings. This note presents eight of the BM pieces and fits them into the previous scheme and also adds a counterfeit Tower issue shilling mm tun. Punch links now allow all of the counterfeits described in the two notes to be divided into two groups suggesting just one or two workshops produced them all.
Measuring the metal composition of a coin using X-ray Fluorescence can be useful in identifying counterfeits. This note presents data testing a portable XRF machine on coins in various plastic holders, including a slab. Using the machine’s built-in interpretation shows that very thin plastic films lead to good results, but anything thicker than about 0.1mm produces questionable results and a 1.66mm slab wall is likely to be incorrect.
The previous two notes described several groups of white metal 18th Century Tokens that have all proved to be of later manufacture. Following their publication, thanks to Peter Preston-Morley, similar pieces from the DNW forgery cabinet were made available for study. Once again, close inspection of the surfaces and edges gives away the deception and the metallurgy allows the copies to be grouped as before: similar to the Baldwin’s basement group, almost pure tin, high tin (80-90%), tin (40-60%) to which is added a new group of four pieces with faint oblique edge milling and a high lead content group. All of the original envelopes and tickets are included to identify past ownership (both dealers and collectors) so that they are not used to create new additions to listings of the series. Links for previous articles: Unrecorded White Metal 18th Century Tokens? Unrecorded White Metal 18th Century Tokens – Part 2
A short note looking again at a contemporary mould for counterfeit George III shillings.
The previous notes have presented details of the reference collection of counterfeit shillings of George III dated 1816-1820 and a description of the pieces in terms of the appearance of the metal. This note will present a few typical pieces from each group along with a few outliers and determine the metals using XRF analysis. The results confirm the three main groups of counterfeits; (1) ‘tin’ based, (2) the ‘copper alloys, brass and copper’ pieces and (3) the ‘silver’ pieces that are genuine coins. Two odd-coloured silver pieces have been found to contain significant amounts of nickel, a metal not used in coinage applications until after the 1850s. Many of the pieces show traces of mercury (200-500ppm) likely from previous silvering, though is only just above the Limit of Detection using this XRF machine. Those pieces with complete silvering show the highest mercury contents (>3000ppm) suggesting the silvering was created using evaporation of a mercury-silver amalgam.
The previous note presented details of the reference collection of 1,490 counterfeit shillings of George III dated 1816-1820. This note will look at the metal composition and plating based on the data gathered in the previous spreadsheet. Simple plots of the weights and densities of the pieces allow them to be separated into three groups ‘tin’, ‘copper alloys, brass and copper’ and ‘silver’ counterfeits, mostly consistent with visual observations.
Subsequent to the publication of the previous note regarding modern copies of Edward VI fine issue shillings, the opportunity has arisen to carry out improved measurements and a metallurgical analysis of another specimen. Three further specimens have also been seen on the well-known internet auction site, all from a single vendor. Three of these are described.