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Tokens from 'Baldwin's Basement' top $350K at auction

After half-a-century out of the spotlight, a selection of 19th century tokens enter the market and fetch a total $350K+ at auction through Baldwin's.

LONDON – 18th Century Tokens that have been hidden from the public for over half a century had their first outing in A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd’s Auction 92 on Tuesday, September 30th. With every one of the lots offered in the sale finding a buyer, for a sale total of

Copper halfpenny

Joseph Askins, Copper Halfpenny, 1796, sold for $666. (Baldwin's)

$359,852, competition both in the room and online was fierce as collectors grasped the opportunity to take home these fascinating pieces of 18th Century British history. This opened the first of a series of sales offering collectors a unique opportunity to purchase rare tokens that are “fresh to the market” after many years.

Seth Freeman, Director, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd commented after the auction; “After many decades of seclusion in the quiet vaults of the Baldwin Basement we felt that it was time for what is probably the most important collection of 18th Century Tokens in modern times to be offered to our clients. With a mixture of excitement and some sadness I took to the rostrum for what turned out to be a marathon 10 hour auction. Collectors and dealers from America and Europe had travelled to attend this landmark auction and battle over these important and rare tokens that had been carefully preserved for so long. As the room bidders competed with the phone and internet, new price levels were recorded that will be a reference point for many years to come. It was an enjoyable event and we are already looking forward to part two next year”.

Top Sellers in Auction 92

* Often known as ‘the man with one leg and two voices’, Joseph Askins was a famous ventriloquist whose triumphant engagements at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London in 1796 and 1797 were advertised as “curious ad libitum Dialogues between himself and his invisible familiar, Little Tommy.” Joseph Askins, Copper Halfpenny, 1796, obv man with a wooden leg, MR JOSEPH ASKINS around, rev THE CELIBRATED VENTRILOQUIST 1796, edge milled (Atkins p.87, 173a; D&H Middlesex 252a). Well struck, nearly mint state with some original colour remaining, rare. Sold for $666.

Skidmore, Clerkenwell Series, Copper Penny, 1797, obv view of a building, THE HOUSE OF LORDS around, sold for $424. (Photo courtesy Baldwin's)

Skidmore, Clerkenwell Series, Copper Penny, 1797, obv view of a building, THE HOUSE OF LORDS around, sold for $424. (Photo courtesy Baldwin's)

* Robert Orchard, Copper Penny, 1801, obv bust of Robert Orchard facing forward, ROBERT. ORCHARD. SAWBRIDGEWORTH. .HERTS. around, rev book lying at the foot of a tree, a church in the distance, *SAWBRIDGEWORTH * PENNY * TOKEN * Ex. * * PAYABLE * * FEBY. XI * 1801 * around, edge plain (Atkins p.46, 1; D&H Hertfordshire 1). Exceedingly rare with only five specimens traced and this is the single known example available in this die state. Commanded $9,999.

* Skidmore, Newmarket, Copper Halfpenny, obv stag lying under a tree, 1793 below, NEW MARKET TOKEN around, rev snail with tree and bridge in the background, A SNAIL MAY PUT HIS HORNS OUT around, edge partially milled (Conder p.20, 10; Atkins p.9, 33; D&H Cambridgeshire 35). Typical die flaws, otherwise good extremely fine and exceedingly rare, perhaps only four known. It realized $2,903.

* Skidmore, Clerkenwell Series, Copper Penny, 1797, obv view of a building, THE HOUSE OF LORDS around, rev shield of arms, LONDON above, P. SKIDMORE. MEDAL. MAKER. COPPICE ROW. CLERKENWELL around, edge I PROMISE TO PAY ON DEMAND THE BEARER ONE PENNY. X. (Conder p.76, 71; Virt p.202; Atkins p.78, 84; D&H Middlesex 155). Mint state, attractively toned and with much original colour remaining. It achieved $424.

* Skidmore, Copper Halfpenny mule, obv a man skating, HYDE PARK around, rev cypher G B, FOR THE USE OF TRADE o around, edge milled (Conder p.283, 186; Atkins p.115, 412; D&H Middlesex 535). Planchet crack as is usual for this high relief die, otherwise good extremely fine and with some original colour remaining, rare. This lot sold for $393.

* Skidmore, Copper Halfpenny mule, obv bust of Louis XVI to right, LOUIS REX around, rev female seated facing right holding a pole and cap of liberty, LIBERTAS above, exergue 1780, edge plain (D&H Middlesex 1004). Virtually as struck on a very thick flan, a little faded red remaining on the reverse and a drop of red wax adhering to the obverse, unique. It reached $5,454 before the gavel fell.

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