King George III 'Cartwheel' Penny
The most famous penny of them all - the George III 'Cartwheel' Penny
In the 18th century, the practice of melting down official copper coins and making lightweight forgeries had become so widespread that it prompted industrialist Matthew Boulton to offer a solution.
He proposed that each coin should actually be made to contain its value in copper, the quality should be improved by using a retaining collar during striking (to give a perfectly round coin) and thick raised borders would prevent them wearing so easily.
In 1797 Boulton was awarded a contract to supply 480 tons of pennies, each weighing one ounce and these were the very first British coins to be minted by steam power.
The George III Cartwheel Penny was also Britannia's debut appearance on the penny - a position she held until decimalisation in 1971.
Because of their large size, Boulton's coins soon earned the nickname 'cartwheels'. It is highly unusual for a low denomination to have such a substantial size and weight, and they are in high demand from collectors for their status as Britain's heaviest ever penny.
- Date of issue: 1797
- Metal: Copper
- Weight: 28.35g (1oz)
- Diameter: 36mm
- Obverse: Bust of George III
- Reverse: Britannia
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