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.
This is the first of a series of short notes looking at the counterfeits of the shillings issued during the recoinage of 1816-1820. This will begin with a statistical analysis of a reference collection which, at the time of writing, contains 1,490 pieces. Subsequent notes will look at the metallurgy, methods of manufacture and ultimately a die study.
The making and use of counterfeit coins was a particular problem in nineteenth century England. In spite of this, relatively little has been published on the subject. This paper was written as a consequence of research into convicted counterfeiters in the first half of the nineteenth century. As nobody was convicted of counterfeiting in this instance the Holden family fell outside my remit. However, the family’s involvement with counterfeit coins over a period of twenty years and the circumstances that led to it, time and again, are exceptionally well documented making their story worth telling. The Holdens lived in Lancashire. They moved around periodically, sometimes to seek legitimate work and sometimes to reduce the risk of arrest for producing or uttering counterfeit coins. John Holden, the head of the family, claimed that he wanted to cease involvement in the activity and that circumstances repeatedly undermined his attempts. Was this true or was he seeking sympathy and justification for his criminal
The following note arose after a chance find of an engraving cut from a magazine with the caption “John Orme’s Case – Orme broke open his absent lodger’s door, when, on entering the room, he found a crucible for coining and a few base shillings”. With no other information to work with, the search began. The story is traceable to original records, including several unexpected connections and a surprising twist. John Orme of Rainow in Cheshire was caught in possession of counterfeits, and counterfeiting equipment was found in his house. He was found guilty at the Chester Assizes in April 1784. He escaped the gallows twice and avoided the First Fleet of convict transportation to Botany Bay. He died in Rainow in 1805.
Copies of low grade hammered silver coins are quite unusual and when they are released slowly, no suspicion is raised. When die/mould duplicates appear showing the same features the game is given away. This note presents details of an Edward VI fine shilling with i.m. y. It is now known from five different specimens all showing the same flan crease, damage, and die/mould flaws.
In this fifth and final instalment some peripheral topics will be covered. Ranging from the mentions of counterfeit pound coins in the media, to publications, to the response of the establishment, to prosecutions, to counterfeits of the new dodecagonal pound. New data has been added to the table of known counterfeit designs, bringing the total to 122 muled designs and 30 counterfeits with the correct obverse for the reverse. This will not be comprehensive, and is not in any particular order, but hopefully will provide a good starting point should anyone wish to take the topic further.
In this fourth instalment several more unusual issues are presented, essentially a postscript to the second note. The first three pieces follow on the theme of materials and the final three look at unusual die/mould manufacturing techniques used particularly for brass counterfeits that were not covered previously. Earlier articles….