Great Britain 1858 penny

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Heritage sale 3010, lot 21164
Great Britain 1858 penny rev Heritage 3010-21164.jpg
This specimen was lot 21164 in Heritage sale 3010 (Boston, August 2010), where it sold for $1,150. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Victoria Penny 1858/2, Young Head, MS64 RB PCGS (the grading insert calls this '1858'), currently listed in the SCBC as being '8/3' but new research points out that, in reality, the overdate is '8/2' and the reasoning given is that late in 1858 the Royal Mint had run out of its store of obverse dies for the year, realized that a change was soon coming from copper to bronze coinage, and grabbed an old die, one dated 1852, to finish out the production run in this year. It turned out that a little more than another year would pass before the big change came, 1859 was a normal production year with fresh dies prepared, but 1860 saw a sudden end to the big copper coinage, the obverse die used for that year hastily repunched over a leftover 1859 die, creating 1860/59, the same phenomenon that produced this piece, which glows with much mint red luster, is boldly struck with wonderful detail, the reverse showing some die-clashing around Britannia, obverse slightly streaky but still overwhelmed by the red luster, reverse almost fully red and, well, just beautiful. The overdate feature is really quite distinct, and the top of the "8" surely shows remnants of the top of a curled "2" without any indication of a bottom curl from anything resembling a "3"; and a faint diebreak runs beneath the entire date, then disappears and resumes through the letters of the queen's name. This variety has the Ornamental Trident and far colon. An intriguing, rare, and beautiful copper! From the Guilford Courthouse Collection."

The copper pennies of Victoria were issued 1841-60 in fairly large quantities but are scarce compared to the massive issues of the smaller bronze pennies of 1860-94. The pure copper composition also caused the coins to wear more quickly than bronze, making high grade specimens even scarcer. Like the United States large cents of the same period, many varieties exist, avidly pursued by specialists. This is an unlisted overdate.

Recorded mintage: 753,000 for 1857-58 (all varieties).

Specification: copper.

Catalog reference: KM 739; S.3948.


  • [1]Tucker, Warren, Scott Cordry and John Kraljevich, Heritage Sale 3010: World Coins, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2010.
  • Lobel, Richard, Mark Davidson, Allan Hailstone and Eleni Calligas, Coincraft's Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins, 1066 to Date, London: Coincraft, 1995.
  • Bressett, Kenneth E., A Guide Book of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 2nd Ed., Racine, WI: Whitman Publishing, 1962.
  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.

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