1794 Great Britain Cornwall Penryn Volunteers Halfpenny Conder Token, DH-4, PR66BN NGC. 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 Premium Gem proof example of this intricate yet skillfully balanced design, far and away one of the nicest survivors of this issue. Deep purple patina complements pale mint frost on the devices, producing an exemplary cameo contrast between the glossy fields and razor-sharp, frosted devices. Absolutely as struck. Although NGC provides no Census information for this piece (like many Conder tokens), we doubt that few survive as nice or nicer.
‘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. Dr. 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, and reverse showing the Leeds cloth hall in excellent perspective.