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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > *Alex > BRITAIN - 18th & 19th CENTURY TOKENS
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1843 "BENJAMIN NIGHTINGALE" AE Halfpenny Token. London, Middlesex
Obverse: VILIUS EST ARGENTUM AURO, VIRTUTIBUS AURUM. Female, leaning on books behind her, holding a cornucopia from which coins are spilling, seated facing right in front of an open coin cabinet; in exergue, tudor rose on shield between two branches.
Reverse: BENJAMIN NIGHTINGALE LONDON * PRIVATE TOKEN * 1843 surrounding BN monogram in script.
Edge: Plain.
Diameter: 30mm | Weight: 14.2gms | Die Axis: 12
Bell (Middlesex) A3
VERY RARE (Only 72 of these bronzed copper halfpenny tokens were struck)

Privately issued in London by Benjamin Nightingale, the die sinker for this token was William Joseph Taylor (whose initials WJT can be seen to the left below the books on the obverse), following a similar design for halfpennies that he had produced for Matthew Young, a British merchant. Taylor was born in Birmingham in 1802 and was apprenticed to Thomas Halliday in 1818 as the first die-sinker to be trained by him. He set up his own business as a die-sinker, medallist and engraver at 5 Porter Street, Soho, London in 1829, later moving to 3 Lichfield Street, Birmingham. In 1843 the business moved to 33 Little Queen Street and finally, in 1869, to 70 Red Lion Street where, in 1885, Taylor died.
The Soho Mint at Birmingham (founded by Matthew Boulton) closed in 1848, and it's plant and equipment was sold via auction in April 1850. Taylor purchased many of the Soho Mint's hubs and dies from this auction and used them to restrike many of the coins & patterns that the Soho Mint had struck between the 1790's and the 1840's, though he nearly always re-polished or re-engraved elements of the original dies before re-using them.


Benjamin Nightingale was a wine and spirit merchant who lived at 17 Upper Stamford Street, Blackfriars Road in London. He was born in 1806 and died on March 9th, 1862. He was a well known Antiquarian and was a member of the Numismatic Society of London.
In 1863, after his death, Benjamin Nightingale's collection, consisting of 359 lots, was sold over a two day period by Sotheby's. This is from the February 13, 1863 edition of the London Daily News (page 8, column 6).

THE VALUABLE CABINET of COINS and MEDALS of the late BENJAMIN NIGHTINGALE, Esq.
MESSRS S. LEIGH SOTHEBY and WILKINSON, auctioneers of literary property and works illustrative of the fine arts, will SELL BY AUCTION, at their house, No. 13 (late 3), Wellington-street, Strand, W.C., on WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, and following day, at 1 precisely, the valuable CABINET OF COINS and MEDALS of the late Benjamin Nightingale, Esq.; comprising a few Roman coins in gold, silver, and copper, in the highest state of preservation; a most valuable collection of English medals in all metals; rare and curious jetons, including a very perfect set of those struck to illustrate the history of the low countries; a few remarkable foreign medals, a choice library of numismatic books, several well-made cabinets, & c. May be viewed two days previous, and catalogues had on receipt of two stamps.


According to Manville and Robertson, prior to his death, Benjamin Nightingale had sold off part of his collection at an auction by Sotheby's on 29th Nov. 1855.
"Benjamin NIGHTINGALE" in ANS copy; Greek, Roman, Tavern Tokens, Town Pieces, 17-18c Tokens, English and Foreign Medals, Books; 165 lots. -Curtis Clay.

The inspiration for these tokens might have been Pye's 1797 halfpenny (Warwickshire 223) which is of a similar design.
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