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Thomas Spence Halfpenny Token

 
 
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Pillar of the Community
United States
3523 Posts
 Posted 09/11/2018  10:39 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Lucky Cuss to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I had the good fortune to get to go through an unsorted older collection today, and this is one of the things I plucked out. My research indicates that this is an issue of Thomas Spence, a coin dealer and political activist who spent several months in Newgate Prison owing to that latter avocation. While in the token business, Spence evidently offered to order any combination of twenty each obverse and reverse dies. When he quit making tokens in 1796, it's my understanding that his dies were taken by Skidmore Stove Grate & Token Makers of London. Skidmore apparently muled some of Spence's dies with ones of their own, so I suppose that what I have here could be one of those later products. However, what's notable about this specimen is its rather blatant pro-American sentiment, which is probably just the sort of provocation that had gotten Spence into trouble with the Crown in the first place.





Colligo ergo sum
Pillar of the Community
United States
5592 Posts
 Posted 09/11/2018  10:44 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice token and in great shape
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United Kingdom
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 Posted 09/12/2018  01:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add peter1234 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Contact BRG5658 who is a member here and also posts at Predecimal.com BTW beautiful token
Valued Member
United States
455 Posts
 Posted 09/12/2018  02:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jst1dreamr to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice token.
Valued Member
United Kingdom
464 Posts
 Posted 09/13/2018  01:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Anaximander to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I suggest the sentiment is likely to be pro-French rather than American.

R C Bell in his 6th volume on tokens lists Spence's dies individually, presumably because they were mixed between individual tokens.

The 1st picture is listed as TS14. Bell describes it as a lion slinking away with its tail between its legs as a cock ( US = rooster ) crows triumphantly from the top of a dunghill. The Gallic cock has long been a symbol of France, and the lion of Britain.

This image would have been highly inflammatory at the time. The upper class establishment of Britain feared revolution exported from France, and Britain was in the grip of a French invasion scare, something which Britain seemed prone to from time to time...

The second image is listed as TS9 and Bell says little about it, except that it appears to pair with TS10.

TS10 has a large central tree, three men dancing to the right, one man on the left sitting at a table eating, and the text around the whole "AFTER THE REVOLUTION". No date.

Your piece is in super condition. I noted that both sides were dated which struck me as unusual, so like you I suspect this is one of Skidmore's later mules. If you have any more I would enjoy seeing them.
Pillar of the Community
United States
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 Posted 09/13/2018  09:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Lucky Cuss to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I suggest the sentiment is likely to be pro-French rather than American.

I hadn't considered it in that light. Obviously a parochial prejudice on my part to think he was lauding the American Revolution, although I imagine he wouldn't have viewed that unfavorably, either.

In doing a bit more research, Spence's association with the London Corresponding Society, suspected by the British government of being influenced by French radicals, would seem to indicate that might've well been in fact where his sympathies laid.

Your interpretation of the depiction of a cock crowing over a cowering lion would seem to clinch the point.


Quote:
I noted that both sides were dated which struck me as unusual, so like you I suspect this is one of Skidmore's later mules.

From the other information you provided, it seems that what I have is not a former Spence die mated with a Skidmore one, but rather a token struck with two Spence obverse dies, which might well still qualify as a mule, I suppose. As I noted above, Spence supposedly would strike tokens from his range of dies per a customer's preference. So whether this was made willy-nilly by Skidmore or earlier by Spence himself to a peculiar specification submitted to him, I don't think we're likely to ever know.

Colligo ergo sum
Edited by Lucky Cuss
09/13/2018 5:53 pm
Bedrock of the Community
United States
14274 Posts
 Posted 09/13/2018  09:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add IndianGoldEagle to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That's a beauty, one I haven't seen before.
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