An extraordinary cache of 2794 Victorian farthings, all dated 1890, of the same type, and generally all in glorious mint state, have been consigned as lot 680 to Woolley & Wallis’s upcoming Silver and Collectors’ sale in Salisbury.
The cache is unusual enough in itself, but the story behind it is what really sparks the interest.
Consigned from Crichel House, in Dorset, the source of Woolley & Wallis's £3.4m record-breaking Qianlong jade water buffalo, according to family legend the cache of farthings was the result of a £5 bet between a member of the Alington family who owned Crichel House and a friend as to which of two raindrops would reach the bottom of a window pane first.
The friend, less than pleased at being the loser, honoured the debt by paying in brand new farthings.
The coins were wrapped in tissue paper at the time of issue and the ones now offered, which represent £2 18s/1½d, are what remain of the original payment.
The original Alington family owner may have found themselves with an inconveniently cumbersome amount of small change, but the current owners now await the sale on July 16-17 with an estimate of £14,000-18,000 set on the lot.