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Plagiarizing, Counterfeiting, Crime & Punishment 1802-1815-?

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The upper AE medal is mine, signed Bagnall(William) on the reverse exergue divide, unlisted. Imaging my surprise when I discovered the brass one below it online at the ‘National Maritime Museum, Greenwich,London’
http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/38894.html and realized it had the same reverse but signed Davies(the site says Davis which is incorrect) when I say the same reverse there is one difference, see further below.
Davies' has wheat leaning from the left of the barrel to the cornucopia, whereas Bagnall's has coins! The close ups are numbered 1 to 4 and show 1: the James Davies' medal, 2: William Bagnall's layered over it at 50% transparency, 3: @ 78%, 4: 100%. As you can see Bagnall just engraved over the stalks of the wheat but the spike is still there and some off the stalks are still visible between the coins.
Davies issued imitation spade guineas, calendar medals & some commemoratives but appears to have ceased production 1801/1802 so perhaps Bagnall acquired some of his dies and just reworked this 1801 reverse to go with his 1802 medal. In fact the letter punches used on Bagnall's obverse appear to be the same as Davies', compare the 'E's 'M's etc, unless Davies had already engraved that obverse too?
As if this was not enough, whilst puzzling this all out & doing some further research I came across some fascinating info re Bagnall;
Abridged & edited by me from the Annual Register of World Events Vol 57(1816) A Review of the Year 1815.
William Bagnall, the elder, William Bagnall, the younger, and Thomas Bagnall, a father and his two sons, were placed at the bar, and tried for coining and counterfeiting certain silver pieces, resembling the dollars issued by the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.
John Foy, a police officer, deposed, that the prisoners lived at No. 9, Seward-street, Clcrkenwell, and that he having received information from some of the neighbours whose houses overlooked Bagnall's workshop, repaired there, accompanied by his brother and two others. They waited till they heard the machine at work, and then two of them knocked at the front door, whilst two entered from behind. The elder Bagnall opened the door, and on securing him they found four dollars apparently new, and resembling those issued by the Bank, in his hand. The eldest son was observed to drop six similar pieces on the approach of the officers. The machine or press was so heavy that to work it with ease and expedition, he believed would require the exertions of three persons. Besides the pieces found on the. two elder prisoners, there was an iron tray containing one Spanish dollar, several with the impression hammered out, and a paper parcel containing thirty fit for currency. To the identity of these, as well as of the dies for making the impression, he could speak positively, having made his marks upon them at the time. On taking the prisoners into custody, the elder Bagnall observed, that he trusted the officer would represent the business in the most favourable light, as he had not employed base metal, but had only changed the impression of genuine Spanish dollars.
The elder Bagnall then put in a written paper, in which he solemnly declared that he never had the intention to commit a fraud, nor any knowledge that he was transgressing the laws of his country. He had made the dollars in the course of his business as a dyesinker, and in the execution of an order which he had received from a person, who said he intended to circulate them in Holland. Whatever the Court might determine with respect to himself, he hoped they would consider his sons as innocent, and as acting under his influence. He should call witnesses, who he trusted would prove that up to this period of his unintentionally erring, he had maintained the character of an honest man. Several witnesses gave the prisoners an excellent character, and stated that the machine in question was employed by the Bagnails, as dye-sinkers and ornamental engravers. The jury, after a few minutes consideration, found all the prisoners guilty; but recommended the two sons, one of whom is 26, and the other 18 years of age, to pardon, as acting under paternal influence. Sentence: 14 years transportation.
Researching further The National archives show that;
The 2 sons were later pardoned by John Silvester, Recorder of London in 1816. Grounds for clemency: the jury recommended mercy at the trial of the prisoners, both of previous good conduct and the distress of the prisoner's families, especially Thomas who has a pregnant wife and 2 children now near starvation.
William Bagnall (The elder), one of 201 convicts transported on "Fame", 09 October 1816 to New South Wales, Australia.
State Records New South Wales Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825.
BAGNALL, William. Per "Fame", 1817
1817 Mar 14: On list of convicts disembarked from the "Fame" and forwarded to Liverpool for distribution (Reel 6005; 4/3496 p.54)
1821 Nov 28: Tutor to Native Institution at Parramatta, to 1820-21; later resident of Parramatta. Petition for mitigation of sentence - conditional pardon granted
1824 Aug 2: Appointed by Governor Macquarie as tutor to Aboriginal children
1825 Dec 28: Schoolmaster at Parramatta. Request for his presence at Colonial Secretary's office.
1827 Died, aged about 58 years old.
One ironic point is that the dated 1804 Bank of England dollars were also struck over Spanish dollars, 8 reales.


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I have been fortunate enough to acquire an example of the medal in the Greenwich Museum, which I used at the begin of this topic, that had been the only example of that unlisted medal that I was aware of and is brass, as you can see the one I have acquired is copper.


The small 20mm medals below it are from a set of four and the engraver was previously unknown, until now. When I acquired the Bagnall 1802 I was so interested its uniqueness & then when I realized he had altered Davies die for the scenic side I rather ignored the reverse but having the two together I started looking at the letters more closely, the E's are particularly unique, and compared them with the smaller medals which are a match, as are all the letters. Even the "27" in the dates are a perfect match, so Bagnall used the letter & number punches he acquired from Davies on his 1802 reverse & on the last 2 medals in the set of 4 which were previously by ? So Bagnall was the engraver of the last 2 in the set, one dated 1802 the other undated and issued them singularly then sold all 4 in a boxed set in 1805(according to BHM), whereas Davies presumably engraved the first 2 dated 1801 and issued them singularly in 1801.


So I believe Davies should be given credit as the engraver for the first 2 dated 1801 and Bagnall the last 2 & for the boxed set.


1. Preliminaries of Peace signed, 1801. BHM#520
2. Preliminaries of Peace ratified, 1801. BHM#521
3. Definitive Treaty signed, 1802. BHM#546
4.British Commerce, undated. BHM#600
all 20mm only listed in brass.
1805 Boxed set: A 22mm brass box with a uniformed bust of Lord Nelson, bare head, left, on the lid containing the 4 above medals. BHM#598









Note the 1802 I attribute to Bagnall has no flourishes, whereas the 1801 I attribute to Davies has, now look at this composite of Davies 1797 Calendar medal(sorry, not to scale) and you can see the punches used for its flourishes he used again for the 1801 Preliminaries Ratified.


As for William Bagnall himself, I have managed to find another address for him in London & 2 other occupations he engaged in;


1810 trial witness & robbery victim:
WILLIAM BAGNALL . I live in Silver street, Clerkenwell. I am a steel die engraver and tallow-chandler 1810.
From London book trade personnel in Holden’s directory for 1811
Bagnall, William: Die engraver and gold and silver embosser No 2, Silver Street Clerkenwell Green 1811.
Bagnall William
No. 9, Seward street, Clerkenwell, 1815.
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Very cool find, const. I bet it's much easier doing the forensics with coins in hand than via books or the internet.

So true TDP, in fact the only images on the internet seem to be mine B) and there does not appear to be any in print either!


I find it interesting that we know that Bagnall was juggling at least his die engraving with candle-making, embossing & finally counterfeiting to make a living & who knows what else?

The area he was living in, after he had relocated from Birmingham, Clerkenwell in London, was full of poor class trades people, button-makers, engravers, jewelers, book-makers & binders etc, & it seems his embossing was to do with the book trade as he was mentioned under London book trade personnel in Holden’s directory for 1811.

Shows how hard it was for him to keep his head above water and so eventually he turned to counterfeiting. Then the authorities caught up with the poor guy & he ends up being transported to an Australian penal colony & adding schoolmaster to his résumé



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Here are just one example of the E's from each of the 4 medals, ignore the apparent slight variation in size as they are in fact the same size, just not in my composite picture. The very long thin upper & lower horizontal bars and the middle wedged shaped middle bar are quite distinct, as is the slight bow to the upright bar. Keep in mind that they all have had varying degrees of wear which affects the breath of the letters slightly. Die lettering/punch analysis can be quite an asset in attributing engravers to unknown medals.



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We know that William Bagnall was in Birmingham up to 1802 and maybe to 1805, by 1810, to at least 1811, he was at 2 Silver street, Clerkenwell, London where he said in 1810 he was a steel die engraver & tallow chandler, this might explain why he was in the candle business, from a directory for 1817,
we know he was still there in 1812 & he is next recorded in 1815 in Seward street. So, one possibliity is, he was lodging with the Welch family at 2 Silver street and assisting with the tallow businss at first but by 1811 he states he is an engraver & a gold & silver embosser(allied with books), then by 1815 at least he is in Seward street with his 2 sons helping him in his engraving & minting work.
Silver street houses were mainly 3 storey + attic wooden buildings with the ground-floor having a shop facing the street.


All speculation but fun.
Thought I should add this to the thread from a previous post,
Vendors pictures first then mine below, plus a close-up.
Rev. NOBE BGTA crowned harp 1696. Atkins #308.
Evasion halfpenny signed by Bagnall.



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Then the authorities caught up with the poor guy & he ends up being transported to an Australian penal colony & adding schoolmaster to his résumé.




Clearly he was a bright guy! Off the top of your head, what secondary and tertiary revenue streams did the medal makers have?

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On 10/03/2015 at 8:11 PM, thedeadpoint said:




Clearly he was a bright guy! Off the top of your head, what secondary and tertiary revenue streams did the medal makers have?

Many of them are listed as button & toy makers. Buttons were in much demand, remember they had no zips or velcro, and with the number of uniforms needed by the military & the gentlemen's servants dressed in livery, brass buttons were a constant source of income.



Metal toys were another sideline, this is a medal by John Kirk, who struck the sentimental tokens among many other medals, showing his shop



and his advert for the same, showing other items he made.


Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.





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