1794 Great Britain Cornwall Penryn Volunteers Halfpenny Conder Token, DH-4, MS64BN PCGS. Obv. PENRYN VOLUNTEERS on a tasseled banner, arms of war, flags, drum, and profile portrait on a shield, FIRST INROLL’D / APRIL 3 * 1794 in exergue. Rev. PRO REGE ET POPULO (for King and people) on a scroll, ornate shield flanked by unicorns, LORD DE DUNSTANVILLE / COLONEL in exergue. Edge: Plain. A gorgeous example of this intricate yet skillfully balanced design, one seldom seen in nice condition and scarce as such. This appears to be (and has traded as) a Soho Mint bronzed proof striking, although PCGS does not denote it as such. The surfaces are a uniform steel-gray with a good deal of contrast between the frosted devices and lustrous fields. Virtually as struck. PCGS Population: 1 in 64BN, 1 finer (7/2020).
Ex: Davissons Ltd., Auction 20 (2/2004), lot 265 as “Soho Bronzed Proof.” Comes with original collectors envelope and auction ticket.
‘All this and unicorns too!’
Background: The Penryn Volunteers Conder token is one of the few Cornwall halfpenny designs available. These were also struck in silver. Engraved by Noël–Alexandre Ponthon and manufactured by Matthew Boulton at Birmingham’s Soho Mint. Richard Doty, the late great curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection, in his admirable volume The Soho Mint and the Industrialization of Money (highly recommended for any student of numismatic history and/or Conder tokens), calls Ponthon “Boulton’s other French engraver of the 1790s” along with the better-known Jean–Pierre Droz. Another of Ponthon’s designs is the Leeds (Yorkshire) Bishop Blaize halfpennies (DH-29 to 41), with a profile view of Bishop Blaize (patron saint of woolcombers) wearing bishop’s mitre, with reverse in excellent perspective of the Leeds cloth hall.