These coins were unofficial copies and were often made to look like well worn currency as their intention was to pass as legal currency.
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WG-5310: 1691 William & Mary Tin Halfpenny. An interesting, high grade contemporary counterfeit! This would easily have passed as the real thing in the 1690’s and even today amongst some dealers & collectors. However, it is a cast and as such there is no edge legend. The brass plug is obviously not brass on this coin. Reported to be a River Thames find from the 1970’s which would account for the high state of preservation. £235
WG-5729: 1790’s George III Copper Halfpenny “Evasion” – Alfred The Great. Obverse depicting a representation of Alfred the Great; reverse with a variation on the usual Britannia but seeming to include aspects of the Irish halfpenny reverse (harp), presumably to cover all bases. Atkins 2. These pieces are many in variety and are all unofficial. Counterfeiting was rife during the last years of the eighteenth century as the last Royal Mint small change issue was 1775. Most of the coppers in circulation at that time were counterfeits – genuine coins at 10g or more melted down for their copper, mixed with cheaper metals and then made into fresh, underweight coins (as little as 4g) using crude, home-made dies. You could get four or more counterfeit coppers out of one genuine copper so the financial benefits were obvious. However, this practise was very much against the law. Enterprising counterfeiters circumnavigated the law by doing exactly as they had been doing but instead of reproducing the official dies, they changed them to basically fantasy dies. The general public were on the whole illiterate (especially the class of people who would handle such denominations) so they wouldn’t notice and the government could not prosecute the counterfeiters (should they ever catch them) because they were not imitating the official, Regal coinage. The counterfeiters had one more trick up their sleeve in order to dupe the public and that was to artificially age these coppers. Don’t forget that there had been no fresh official coppers released from the mint in over 20 years so all official coinage would be worn, dark and grimy. The counterfeiters made their coins look equally as poor by employing a variety of methods including filing them down, boiling them in oil, making dies that had much wear built into them and even putting them in stables for a few months where the horse shoes would scratch / flatten and the horse dung and urine would corrode the coins. This coin is an exceptional example, seemingly having bypassed the final “aging” stage in the process. £95