101778 | GREAT BRITAIN. Middlesex. Spence's Copper Halfpenny Token.

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    101778  |  GREAT BRITAIN. Middlesex. Spence's Copper Halfpenny Token. Issued 1795 (29mm, 12.14 g, 6h).

     

    A MILLION HOGG | A GUINEA • PIG / ODD * FELLOWS *, janiform head composed of King George III and an ass / TREE OF LIBERTY, four men clasping hands and dancing around pike surmounted by head of George III; branch to left and right, two cornuacopiae below. Edge: Plain.

     

    D&H 797a. Choice Mint State. Charming chocolate brown surfaces, with some alluring brilliance remaining. A popular and highly provocative satirical type.

     

    This type plays upon sentiments of the time–mostly revolving around the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon, and Britain's increased spending to form a European coalition to fight back the eventual dictator. The head of the king is obvious, and does not downplay his rotund features, while the head of the ass is more indirect. It can be seen as William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister and the one calling for the increased taxation to fight against Napoleon. The ass can also be interpreted as the British citizenry itself, as it was they, through parliament, that caused Pitt to be in that position. The "million hogg" was to point fun at the king, for his allowance of seemingly everything to be taxed, while the "guinea pig" was a pointed allusion to one such tax—the "hair powder tax." A tax of one guinea per year was applied to hair powder for wigs, with those initially agreeing to such a tax being the guinea pigs. Meanwhile, the reverse alludes to the beheadings in France, with Britain's own monarch drawing the ire of the token maker instead.

     

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