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1860 British Farthings

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Bronze farthings were first struck in Great Britain in 1860, and while there were fewer problems with the new alloy than were experienced with the higher-denomination bronze coinage, there were still a number of iterations on the new obverse and reverse designs. There were three obverse and two reverse design used to strike circulating 1860 farthings.

1860 British farthing dies
DieDescription
Obverse 1Beaded border, five berries in wreath
Obverse 2Toothed border, four berries in wreath
Obverse 3Toothed border, five berries in wreath
Reverse ABeaded border
Reverse BToothed border
1860 farthing reverse A
1860 farthing reverse A
1860 farthing reverse B
1860 farthing reverse B

Although there were three obverse and two reverse dies, not all dies were paired with each other - the beaded border dies were phased out early on as the toothed border resulted in longer die life and hence higher output per die.

1860 British farthing die pairings
Die pairingNotesReference
1+ACommonFreeman 496
2+ARare - toothed/beaded border muleFreeman 498
3+AVery Rare - toothed/beaded border mule
2+BCommonFreeman 499
3+BCommonFreeman 501
1860 farthing obverse 2
1860 farthing obverse 2
1860 farthing obverse 3
1860 farthing obverse 3

Most of the 1860 farthing varieties are easy enough to obtain - while rare, the 2+A toothed/beaded border mule is not impossible to obtain, with Freeman estimating there are 16-50 extant examples (p121, Freeman, The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain (1860-1970), 2016), though the true number is probably a little higher as more examples would have been discovered since Freeman's book was first published in 1970. The 3+A toothed/beaded border mule is a very rare coin however, so rare that Freeman did not record its existence at all. An example was sold in the Oxford Collection by Colin Cooke in 2008 as lot 140, which had previously been sold in Croydon Auctions in 2005. When the Mangahas Collection was sold by Spink in 1990 it was then one of two known 1860 3+A farthing mules (Cooke, https://www.colincooke.com/collections/oxford_vicbunhead.html).

Read about more farthing varieties in the book Varieties of British Bronze Farthings 1860-1956.

Images provided by and Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International