The 1797 Cartwheel Twopence were minted in 1797 and later re-struck in 1798 still using the same 1797 date.
They were struck by a token manufacturer, Matthew Boulton at his Soho Works in Birmingham in response to the shortage of small change during George III's reign.
These twopences are known for their thick edges and their broad, high rims. They were the first official coins produced using modern industrial methods.
These particular coins show 10 leaves in the wreath on the obverse. We have seen these in a range of grades, from fair to EF.
The pictures shown may not be the actual coin you receive.
Other types of Cartwheel Twopences that were issues include proof versions in gilt copper, copper, bronze, silver and gold. The last two being extremely rare.
The Royal Mint was unable or unwilling to mint base coins after 1775, due to either incompetence, decrepit machinery, official indifference or a combination of all three. Forgery became a serious problem, and it was believed at one point that there were more counterfeit half-pennies in circulation than genuine ones! Exasperated merchants eventually resorted to taking matters into their own hands by striking or commissioning their own tokens to circulate in place of the discredited and meagre supply of regal issues.
Amongst these token manufacturers was a Birmingham industrial magnate named Matthew Boulton. Boulton had for years lobbied against the scourge of coin shortages and counterfeiting, and had in his role as a magistrate taken a particular interest in going after counterfeiters in his native city. It was a particular source of shame for Matthew Boulton that Birmingham was the centre of the illegal counterfeiting industry, and he considered his efforts to diminish counterfeiting as a matter of honour as well as a business opportunity. With several years of experience minting tokens under his belt, and with revolutionary coin manufacturing technology which he and his business partner, the legendary James Watt, had developed and perfected throughout the 1780s and 90s, Boulton campaigned to have the government award him a contract to strike legal-tender copper regal issues. Eventually, Boulton's efforts were rewarded and he was awarded a contract to provide official coinage in the form of pennies and two pence pieces, weighing 1 and 2 ounces respectively, with a face value that closely matched their intrinsic worth in pure copper. Boulton and Watt's revolutionary machinery could produce these high-quality coins much more efficiently, profitably and to a higher standard of workmanship than that which the Royal Mint's decrepit equipment was capable of. The quality of the striking and the closely matched intrinsic worth made them extremely difficult for counterfeiters to forge. However, the widespread hoarding of these beautiful coins, in addition to a price rise in copper which made their intrinsic worth higher than their face value, limited their success as a circulating medium. Nevertheless, these coins are one of the most important issues in world numismatic history, as they were the first official coins produced using modern industrial methods, pioneered by a man regarded by many numismatists as the father of modern coinage, Matthew Boulton F.R.S .
The obverse shows the legend (incuse) "GEORGIUS III D:G REX". This is the first copper coin in circulation to show D:G. The legend surrounds a laureate portrait of George III facing right with a draped bust and ten leaves in his wreath. There is the initial K on the draped bust of George III.
The obverse was designed by Conrad Heinrich Kuchler.
Other obverses include 11 leaves in the wreath which catalogue slightly higher.
The reverse bears the iconic seated Britannia. This portrait of Britannia is now shown holding a trident rather than a spear as shown on previous coins. Britannia is seated on a rock with waves surrounding her, holding an olive branch. There is a shield showing the Union Flag. In the background shows a boat sailing.
SOHO can be seen in the waves below the shield to represent the Soho Mint.
The legend reads BRITANNIA - 1797".
The reverse was designed by Conrad Heinrich Kuchler.
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