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Dated 1797, this halfpenny was one of the highlights of the third part of the Patrick Deane Collection comprising London and political 18th-century tokens which was auctioned in a white-glove sale at Baldwin’s (20% buyer’s premium) on October 12.

The ‘wild man’ token – which had last changed hands in 1931 for a mere 63 shillings (£3.15) – took £2600 on this occasion, from a US collector bidding online, against an estimate of £500-800.

Many tokens sold for multiples of their estimates and the sale achieved a total of just over £146,000, surpassing the estimated range of £58,000-80,000.

Baldwin’s said: “Notably, this auction drew significant attention from collectors and dealers in the US, where the late 18th-century halfpennies are highly sought after.

“A rare sight in today’s era of online auctions, a dozen dealers and collectors were present in the room, with many American enthusiasts travelling specifically to closely examine this exceptional collection. Furthermore, the online bidding was fierce, primarily driven by American collectors and dealers.”

Another stand-out lot included a strong US link: a halfpenny featuring a hanged man titled ‘End of Pain’, referring to Thomas Paine’s involvement in the drafting of the Declaration of American Independence. Despite being mis-struck, this token sold for £3000, three times top estimate. It was bought by an American collector who flew over to London to attend the auction and bid for it in the room.

Spence’s tokens, issued in Holborn in the late 1790s, also garnered significant interest, particularly his silver farthing featuring Adam and Eve and a pig trampling the emblems of royalty. It took £2100 (guide £800-1000) from a dealer from the central US via the internet. This token had last been sold in 1930 for £2.50, along with 18 additional coins.

Another notable example, also bought online by the dealer from the central US, depicted Newgate Gaol on one side and three men hanging on the other. Issued in 1796, it sold for £1300 against an estimate of £225-275. According to the auction house: “This token was issued by four inmates of the prison and served as a powerful commentary on the lack of liberty in the country.”

Baldwin’s added: “The exceptional condition of these tokens, combined with their prestigious provenance from Francis Cokayne, generated immense interest and spirited bidding, especially through online platforms.” Cokayne (1871-1945) was a renowned numismatic collector and “what remained at the end of his life was the best and most comprehensive collection of British 18th and 19th century tokens ever formed by a single person” (said numismatic specialist Noonans in 2018 when offering 19th century tokens from the Cokayne collection).