The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 39, September 24, 2017, Article 20


At the suggestion of Andy Singer, Chris Webb of Dix Noonan Webb in London submitted this lot description from their recent sale of a beautiful Myddelton token. Thanks! -Editor

Mydleton token 1796 obverse Mydleton token 1796 reverse

Kentucky, Philip Myddelton, Halfpenny, 1796, in bright copper, standing figure of Liberty welcoming standing figure of Hope with infant genii, anchor and cornucopia in background, rev. Britannia seated left in forlorn pose, regarding a cap of Liberty on the ground, edge plain, 11.34g/6h (Whitman 8900; Breen 1074). Virtually as struck with full reflective original colour, extremely rare

Provenance: From a Distinguished UK private collection.

Philip Parry Price, later Myddelton, "a thin man, about 5 feet 10 inches high, with high cheek bones, of rather genteel appearance, has a little of the Yankee dialect" was an English entrepreneur and merchant living in Bloomsbury square, London, at the beginning of 1796. He had returned to England from Philadelphia, where he is recorded as being in practice as a medical doctor in 1794, the previous autumn following the death of a relative, adding the name Myddelton at that time.

Over the winter of 1795-6 he advertised in the Reading Mercury, Staffordshire Advertiser, Derby Mercury and many other provincial English newspapers, claiming to own large tracts of land in Northern Kentucky bordering the Ohio river and promising a new life for settlers and artisans to emigrate thither. To give credence to his plan he instructed Matthew Boulton, with whom he had engaged in correspondence over the previous month, on 24 January 1796, to strike a coinage for him which included the legends british settlement kentucky and payable by p.p.p. myddelton.

Dies were executed (almost certainly by C.H. Küchler) and the first silver pieces, thought to total 53 specimens, delivered to Myddelton on 8 March 1796. He returned most of them as it would appear that Boulton misinterpreted his order, the demand being for a ton of copper which Myddelton wanted to take with him to America. Boulton struck a few bronzed-copper pieces, said to total 11 specimens in all, but Myddelton's scheme had been attracting attention from the authorities who, on 4 March 1796 and only days before he was due to set sail to Nantucket, saw fit to indict him with trying to entice talented English artisans to emigrate to the United States, violating a 1783 statute prohibiting such acts.

Temporarily obtaining bail, Myddelton was back in Newgate prison by 6 April, pending trial, at which he was defended by Thomas Erskine, the attorney commemorated on a number of tokens and medals. Pleading not guilty, Myddelton was convicted on 9 June and sentenced by the Chief Justice, Sir James Mansfield, to a year in prison, at the end of which he was to pay a £500 fine. An appeal to Rufus King, the American Minister at the Court of St James, came to nothing; declared bankrupt in January 1797 and unable to pay the fine, Myddelton was kept in prison until November 1799 when the fine was paid.

Subsequently styled as a doctor, Myddelton was appointed the principal medical superintendent at the Hanover Park mental asylum in Carlow. He took a lease on Carlow Castle from Hans Hamilton, MP for Dublin, but in modifying parts of the original Norman edifice by dynamiting part of the structure Myddelton only succeeded in destroying over half the building in 1814. In later life he is recorded as living in Bath in 1827. The few extant bright copper specimens were almost certainly struck for collectors some time shortly after 1796; one in a slightly lower state of preservation was in the Fairchild collection (Goldberg, May 2001, $18,975 including premium)

Great piece, in beautiful condition. Congratulations to the buyer. Chris reports that it sold for £18,000 = approx. £22,500, including premium." At an exchange rate of about $1.35 per pound, that amounts to $30,375. -Editor
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Wayne Homren, Editor

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