NGC to Display Highlights from the James Watt Jr. Collection at ANA World's Fair of Money
Posted on 6/1/2006
A collection of Superb Proof George III coinage, formerly owned and produced by Soho Mint Master James Watt Jr., will be on display at the NGC booth during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money, August 16 – 19 in Denver, Colorado. The exhibit is provided courtesy of Aspen Park Rare Coins.
James Watt Jr. was Mint Master at the Soho, England mint from the late 1700s through 1840. His father was James Watt, a famed engineer and inventor who made major improvements to the Newcomen steam engine, a machine later used by his son at the Soho minting facility.
James Watt Jr. struck a number of cameo proof coins of George III for his own collection. He fashioned silver-lined brass coin shells to provide an airtight container for each coin. These coins were passed down through the family generations until a November 13, 2002 auction of the estate in London.
The Morton and Eden Auction catalog states of this collection: “The majority of the coins and medals are of proof quality and they are offered with the pairs of pressed bronze protective ‘shells’ in which they were originally housed… Following James Watt Junior’s death, the collection was moved to Doldowlod and was recorded by Elizabeth Stockdale Wilkinson, one of his executors: ‘This Bureau contains the articles brought from Aston — and the Coins & Medals are in the carved oak box in Mr. Watt’s dressing closet at Doldowlod — E.S.W. May 13, 1849.’ The coins and medals have remained largely undisturbed at Doldowlod ever since…”
The James Watt Jr. Proof coins are exquisite cameo strikings, and their preservation and visual aesthetics are essentially unparalleled among coinage of their era. The collection of Mathew Boulton, Watt’s partner at the Soho Mint, yielded no coins of equal stature to the Watt proofs.
The coins, mostly Farthings, Half Pennies and Pennies, struck in Bronzed Copper, Copper and Gilt, have remained in essentially “as made” condition. All were submitted to NGC, where they received grades ranging from PF 66 to PF 68 Ultra Cameo.
The collection includes a 9-piece set of British Copper, Bronze and Gilt Farthings, Half Pennies and Pennies, dated 1806.
Farthing NGC PF 66 BN [Pictured]
Half Penny NGC PF 67 BN
Penny NGC PF 67 BN
Farthing NGC PF 67 RD ULTRA CAMEO
Half Penny NGC PF 67 RD ULTRA CAMEO [Pictured]
Penny NGC PF 66 RD ULTRA CAMEO
Farthing NGC PF 68 ULTRA CAMEO
Half Penny NGC PF 68 ULTRA CAMEO
Penny PF 67 NGC ULTRA CAMEO
1806 Ireland Farthing in Bronze NGC PF 66 BN CAMEO
1799 Great Britain Half Penny in Bronze NGC PF 67 BN
1797 Great Britain Penny in Bronze NGC PF 65 BN
1805 Ireland Penny in Bronze NGC PF 67 BN CAMEO
1805 Ireland Penny in Gilt NGC PF 66 ULTRA CAMEO [Pictured]
1797 Great Britain 2 Penny NGC PF 65 BN
1804 Great Britain Bank Dollar NGC PF 67 BN [Pictured]
1813 Isle of Man Penny NGC PF 67 BN CAMEO [Pictured]
The Watt Family:
James Watt, Sr. (1698 – 1782) was a ship fitter and syndicate manager in Greenock, who lived all his life in Scotland.
James Watt the Engineer (1736 – 1819) began his career as a maker of scientific instruments in Glasgow where, in the 1760s, he developed his idea of a separate condenser to improve the efficiency of the Newcomen steam engine. He met Matthew Boulton in 1768. Their formal partnership of Boulton & Watt, which was to have such momentous implications for the Industrial Revolution as a whole, began in 1775.
James Watt, Jr. (1769 – 1848) traveled and studied in Europe as a young man, became a radical and was embroiled for a period in the politics of the French Revolution. On his return home, he was settled into a partnership in a new enterprise named Boutlon, Watt & Sons, founded in 1794. James Watt, Jr. was instrumental in obtaining a number of coining contracts for the Soho Mint until his partnership with Matthew Boulton was dissolved in 1840.