In Britain, the production of copper coins had been halted between 1816 and 1821. Britain’s Great Recoinage of 1816 ended under the rule of King George IV when, Benedetto Pistrucci was hired to design and mint a new coin depicting King George IV. Unfortunately, Pistrucci produced a spectacularly ugly portrait of the king, with a bulging face and neck. The king was rather displeased. Pistrucci was demoted, and William Wyon was given the task of producing a more slim and trim farthing.
So, we have two types of King George IV farthings:
Dated 1821-1826, weighed 4.5–4.8 grams, with a diameter of 22 millimeters.
Dated 1826–1830, weighed 4.6–4.9 grams with a diameter of 22 millimeters.
- In 1826, both Pistrucci’s and Wyon’s designs were produced and distributed.
The Pistrucci obverse shows a left-facing bust of King George IV with the inscription GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA (George the IV by God’s grace), while the reverse shows a right-facing helmeted Britannia seated to the left of the coin, with a shield and trident, with the inscription BRITANNIAE REX FID DEF (short for “BRITANNIARUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR”, King of the British Empire, Defender of the Faith) and the date in the exergue underneath Britannia.
- Wyon’s preference was to put the date under the king’s bust, and to put the rose, thistle, and shamrock in the exergue underneath Britannia. Wyon also centered Britannia, and, of course, made King George a bit more handsome.
The 1825 Farthing is noted to have raised stems through the leaves of the laurel crown. In addition, there are several varieties where the ‘5’ in the date has been repunched; sometimes, quite a bit off.
The coin type (1821-1826) is classified by Seaby/Spink as 3822 and by Krause & Mishler as 677.