WMID-39A945: Modern: Imitation Guinea of George III issued as a Gaming Piece

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Unique ID: WMID-39A945

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A complete milled copper alloy imitation guinea of George III (AD 1760 to AD 1820), milled during the late 19th Century AD (1850 AD to 1900 AD).

The obverse depicts George III, wearing a laureate wreath, facing right. The legend is hard to read but probably read GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA. The reverse depicts central coat of arms surmounted by crown. The shield bears four panels containing detailed rendering of rampant lions, harp and fleur de lys. The originals were nicknamed 'spade' guineas due to the shape of the shield. The reverse legend is hard to read, but probably reads W.C.B. ET. CO. DG. IT. REX. FD. B.I.R.M. 1790 as the Birmingham firm WCB & Co were the dominant producer of these imitation coins. The coin has been pierced at 12 o'clock on the obverse.

The coin has a diameter of 25.40 mm and is 1.17 mm thick. It weighs 3.2 g.

The coin is a dark brown colour, with an even surface patina. Abrasion, caused by movement whilst within the plough soil, has resulted in a loss of the majority of the surface detail.

The Token Corresponding Society (www.tokensociety.org.uk) offers the following information on these imitations: There is an extensive series of over 1,000 different Imitation Spade Guineas, issued not in gold but in brass or bronze. Some are gilt which can make it look like gold and this does cause some confusion. They were mostly struck in the 1800's, during the reign of Queen Victoria, but to avoid the Counterfeit Laws they, usually, have the bust of King George III on the obverse and, usually, the reverse includes the spade shield, - hence the name "spade guinea". To qualify as an Imitation Spade Guinea a coin must have one or both of these aspects.

The guineas range between 24-27mm diameter and the half guineas 20-22mm.

Many coins are dated in the 1700's and not in the 1800's, to reinforce that they were not real currency guineas. Their purpose was as gaming / gambling counters, to look like sovereigns and half sovereigns, to show off the expertise of the engravers and manufacturers, many of whom were named on the piece - mainly from Birmingham, UK - and as advertising tokens for many types of business, as "give away's" and promotional items.

Many were pierced at manufacture for suspension purposes and it is perfectly acceptable to collect coins in that condition. Whilst some pieces - such as many of the types of "In Memory Of The Good Old Days" are extremely common, some of the advertising pieces are excessively rare and command prices of well over £100. Each advertising coin is worthy of research as to it's origin and purpose.

Evidence of reuse: pierced at 12 o'clock on the obverse

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MODERN
Period from: MODERN
Period to: MODERN
Date from: Circa AD 1850
Date to: Circa AD 1900
Period of reuse: MODERN

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 1.17 mm
Weight: 3.2 g
Diameter: 25.4 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 31st March 2013

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Teresa Gilmore
Identified by: Miss Teresa Gilmore

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Milled
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Derbyshire (County)
District: South Derbyshire (District)
Parish or ward: Cauldwell (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK2516
Four figure Latitude: 52.741054
Four figure longitude: -1.63114
1:25K map: SK2516
1:10K map: SK21NE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Found whilst metal detecting
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WMID
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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