1796 Myddleton Tokens by Variety | Colonial Coins by Type | U.S. Coins by Denomination

Obverse of 1796 Myddelton Token in Silver     Reverse of 1796 Myddelton Token in Silver


1796 MYDDELTON TOKEN
IN SILVER

Notes:

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles

Significant examples:
PCGS Proof-64 (illustrated above).  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc. "The George Mouhtouris Collection", October 1-2, 2001, Lot 56, illustrated, "The Finest Graded", sold for $17,825.00

Recent appearances:
PCGS Proof-63 (illustrated below).  Ex - Fairchild Family Trust - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles "The Fairchild Family Trust Collection" Sale, May 28-30, 2001, Lot 64, where it was described as follows: "1796 Myddelton Token - Silver. PCGS graded Proof 63. A beautiful example of this popular medal, the surfaces are toned a medium antique silver-gray with lighter shades on the devices. Of the PCGS examples graded, only 3 have been awarded a grade this high, with just a single coin graded higher.
Breen discusses this medal in his wonderful Encyclopedia (page 106-7). Philip Parry Price Myddelton acquired an enormous tract of land in Kentucky and during 1795-6 he persuaded hundreds of English farmers and laborers to emigrate to his Kentucky land, promising them steady employment.
The dies were engraved by Conrad H. Küchler and these were stuck at Boulton and Watts Soho Mint. The devices are beautiful, Hope with anchor, presents her two children to Liberty, who holds the liberty pole (note the slaves cap of freedom flying at the top). Behind Liberty is the cornucopia, representing the abundance of the new land and fertility. The seedling represents Myddelton's Kentucky project. On the obverse, the dejected Britannia with her spear inverted (a clear reference to the defeat at Yorktown), with the scales of Justice and the fasces down on the ground. Britannia looks down at a cap of Liberty, which has sprung forth near her feet, representing the new American colony. Needless to say, these elements were highly insulting to Britain, and Myddelton soon found himself in the horrible Newgate Prison, charged with "brain drain" and literally the formal charges were "enticing artificers to emigrate to the United States", ending his ambitious project.
Perhaps 15 to 20 are known, and these are extremely rare in any grade, both silver and copper pieces were struck.", sold for $14,950.00 - Paul Arthur Norris - Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23 & 24, 2002, Lot 88, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "PCGS graded Proof 63 Premium Quality. A mate to the copper specimen in this sale, this silver example boasts gorgeous antique toning with colorful hints around the periphery, and more lavender gray elsewhere. As to the strike, it is full and complete, with no hint of weakness on the central devices, even Liberty herself is bold. This fact is particularly relevant because our consigner, Paul Arthur Norris, owned the technically higher grade coin (PCGS PR-64) which was weakly struck on Liberty's body and head, but sold it after he acquired this piece. This other silver example was sold in our Mouhtouris sale, October 1, 2001, lot 56 where it realized $17,825. Comparing the two, Mr. Norris felt that the sharper strike was more important than the technical grade, given that both were choice proof coins. Larry Goldberg agreed with Norris that this specimen should be considered a finer and more valuable example because of the full strike on Liberty and both agreed that this coin was finer overall of the two. On this particular coin, there are some minor hairlines which likely limited the grade, but this coin is certainly very appealing for its color, strike and surfaces. As to the PCGS Population Report, they note 7 graded as PR-63, with just one higher, the example Norris sold as PR-64, out of a total of 11 examples graded in all. Needless to say, any Myddelton token is extremely rare and seldom offered. Despite the number issued (see below), auction records indicate perhaps 15 to 20 are known in all grades.
The Myddelton tokens represent one of the pinnacles of die engraving of the period. The complex design elements are rich in minute details and speak volumes to those symbolically literate. The obverse shows a youthful Liberty, her right arm outstretched while her left arm holds a pole which supports a loose cap (the Phrygian cap on the pole has been traced back to Roman times when slaves, who wore such caps, placed their caps on poles to assert their freedom). Behind Liberty is a cornucopia, which is spilling forth fruit symbolizing the abundance of the new colony in Kentucky, and a small Liberty tree or branch, ringed with a wreath of Laurel near her feet (for peace). The image of Hope is on the left, presenting two children (genii, or supernatural spirits which take human form to serve their summoner) that represent the freedom and opportunity of the new colony. The ships anchor perhaps speaks of the long voyage to the new land, and once arriving being anchored to the land, as the anchor rests on the land as opposed hanging from a ship or on deck.
Britannia dominates the reverse, her head lowered and weeping, her spear reversed (point down) and leaning on her shield (note the flag elements there), the symbols of Liberty (scales of justice, the fasces and Liberty cap) lie in disarray at her feet, suggesting that Britain had become a land devoid of justice and liberty in recent times. All these elements combine to entice people to move to the new settlement. Interestingly the Soho Mint owner, Matthew Boulton wrote P. P. P. Myddelton on January 7, 1796 to inquire about Myddelton's request that Britannia be presented in such a manner on his proposed token as follows "In regard to the device I do not think myself qualified to speak of it, as I do not clearly see what point you aim at, or what passes in your mind, or why you should prefer Britannia weeping over your plantation, as I hope both you & Britain will have cause to rejoice." (see article by Richard Margolis noted below) Myddelton didn't see it that way, and stuck to his original concept of a weeping Britannia. The extensive research done by Richard Margolis and published in The Colonial Newsletter in the December 1999 issue is available in our office, and we strongly suggest anyone who has an interest in the Myddelton tokens to take the time to read this superbly researched article to gain a thorough understanding of these important coins.
The Margolis research notes that Myddelton originally contracted with Boulton's Soho Mint for copper coins, and in the surviving correspondence there is no reference to the silver pieces. Perhaps these silver pieces were struck for advertising purposes most likely for use by the Soho Mint and Boulton, as Myddelton was scheduled to sail to Kentucky within days of these silver coins being struck, and would have had little time to present the silver coins to prospective colonists. Of the 53 silver pieces struck, 50 were put into Myddelton's account, and shortly thereafter 46 were returned to Boulton's Soho Mint, where they were quietly distributed over the next few years, Boulton fearing reprisals from the government and wanting to distance himself from the problems that soon entangled Myddelton.
Meanwhile, Myddelton's past caught up with him, and he was arrested for attempting to entice an Englishman to move to his new Kentucky colony, which was illegal at the time. Myddelton ended up in the horrible Newgate Prison, where his one year sentence lasted over 3 years, when he at last was able to pay the £500 fine and released. We don't know if Myddelton ever made it to Kentucky, but he resurfaced in Britain as the plaintiff in another lawsuit in 1806."

Sources and/or recommended reading:

Obverse of 1796 Myddelton Token in Silver     Reverse of 1796 Myddelton Token in Silver

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles