Largest copper coin ever issued in Great Britain sold for £7,500

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29 September 2019
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Dix Noonan Webb, recently sold the largest copper coin ever issued in Great Britain during their auction of British Tokens held in London.

The extremely rare sixpence coin weighs 163g (the equivalent of 46 contemporary 1p coins) and measures 48mm in diameter and was estimated to see for between £2,000 and 3,000.

Christopher Webb, Director and Head of the Coin department, Dix, Noonan, Webb said:

'This coin was produced in Birmingham to be used in a workhouse, only ten specimens are now known and this one is arguably the finest available to commerce… Believed to have been in circulation for a short time, the coins owe their probable existence to the temporary low price of copper relative to silver at the time. The last time this token was on the open market, at the second Norman sale in 1905, it brought £17 10s (the equivalent of £2,100 today), easily the top price in that auction.'

The affidavit (or statement) which was included in the sale and signed by Emery Davies, reads:

'I Thomas Emery Davies of Court Chambers Corporation Street in the City of Birmingham in the County of Warwick make oath and say as follows: The coin I have sold to Mr John Macmillan of Birmingham Commercial Traveller is a Copper Birmingham Workhouse sixpence of the year 1813 and has been in my possession since the year 1867 previous to then it was the property of my first wife who was a Miss Milford and it was given to her by her stepfather Doctor William Walker Lloyd a surgeon who was well known in this Town and in whose possession the Coin had been for many years previous to his presenting the same to my said late Wife”. ‘Sworn at Birmingham in the County of Warwick the 26th day of February 1891. Before me. Jno. Dyson, A Commissioner to administer oaths in the Supreme Court of Judicature in England.'

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The lot description added:

'Although referred to in the latest literature as patterns never released for circulation, it seems likely, from the wear on the surviving specimens (of which several have appeared on the market over the years, this being the fourth example auctioned by DNW since 2007), that these coins did enter circulation for a limited time. Weighing five and a half ounces each, they owe their probable existence to the temporary low price of copper relative to silver at the time.'

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