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Imitation Spade Guineas


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There is an extensive series of over 1,000 different Imitation Spade Guineas, issued not in gold but in brass or bronze.  Some are gilt which can make it look like gold and this does cause some confusion.  They were mostly struck in the 1800's, during the reign of Queen Victoria, but to avoid the Counterfeit Laws they, usually, have the bust of King George III on the obverse and, usually, the reverse includes the spade shield, - hence the name "spade guinea".  To qualify as an Imitation Spade Guinea a coin must have one or both of these aspects. The guineas range between 24-27mm diameter and the half guineas 20-22mm.


Many coins are dated in the 1700's and not in the 1800's, to reinforce that they were not real currency guineas.  Their purpose was as gaming / gambling counters, to look like sovereigns and half sovereigns, to show off the expertise of the engravers and manufacturers, many of whom were named on the piece - mainly from Birmingham, UK - and as advertising tokens for many types of business, as "give away's" and promotional items.


For any collector of this series the work of reference for the whole series is essential. It is "A Thousand Guineas" by W. Bryce Neilson, published in 2003 and covering 70 pages. Cost £16. Published by Galata Print.   (01691 648765)

All the info came from this site:



Pictures kindly supplied by andyg,he obtained permission to copy & use them from an old eBay listing.




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Some of the inscriptions on the imitation guineas are;


G.Y.I.ET.F.G.REX.S.UF.ST.D.S.T.M.S.ET= George Yorke Iliffe and Frederick Gardner(Rex). Suffolk Street, die sinkers, tool makers, stampers,etc. Issued between 1878-1881.


B.BROS.REX.F.D.CLXX.HOCKLEY.BIRM= Bancroft Bros.(Rex fidei defensor) 170 Hockley Hill, Birmingham. Issued between 1875-1878.


& one copied from a previous post of mine,


William Charles Bagnall & Co(W.C.B. ET. Co. on the token) was a token maker in Birmingham(B.I.R.M. on the token) also known as Charles William Bagnall, engraver, of 16 Hockley street, Birmingham.


There was an earlier version of these spade guinea counters/tokens from about 1788 whilst the actual gold spade guinea was still being struck. They used the same inscription as on the genuine guineas; M.B.F.ET.H.REX.F.D.B.ET.L.D.S.R.I.A.T.ET.E. for Magnae Britanniae, Franciae et Hibernise Rex, Fidei Defensor, Brusviciensis et Lunenburgensis Dux, Sacri Romani Imperil Archi-Thesaurus et Elector, which can be translated as - King of Great Brittain, France and Ireland, Defender of the faith. Duke of Brunswick and Luneberg. Grand Treasurer and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.


These, to avoid counterfeit laws often had scalloped edges & the manufacturers initials below the bust, W A & co(Wilmore & Alston & Co.) is one. They are of finer quality than the later victorian counters.


This Middlesex National Series 1789 1/2d D&H 938. BHM 310. 25mm Gilt Bronze. Georgivs III Dei Gratia. Hail Britain Heaven Restores Your King. by Wilmore & Alston & Co. Rare


Uses the same obverse as their scalloped edged imitation spade guinea but this did not need a scalloped edge because the reverse in no way resembles a guinea.

One by C I(James), even though not an exact copy of a guinea, they took no chances & scalloped the edge, probably because of the so called spade(the shape of the shield).


Vern's example of the Imitation spade http://www.napoleonicmedals.org/coins/brit88-1.htm

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