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Thomas Spence or Skidmore & Son, Copper Halfpenny Obv A bust of Fox in profile facing right. Around the perimeter RT. HE. C. J. FOX. JAMES below bust. Rev A tree with two shields leaning against it. Around the perimeter A . FRIEND . TO . PEACE . AND . LIBERTY . Edge Milled (Atkins p. 129, 604a; D&H Middlesex 772a)
It is unclear if Spence had this token struck for him as it is the only use of the tree and shield die. The Fox die was used often by Spence, but also by Skidmore after Spence quit the business. In any case, the token was struck at the Skidmore Foundry. This specimen is exceptional; well centered, sharply struck, and with a substantial amount of original color.
Thomas Spence, (1750-1814), Newcastle schoolmaster and writer who moved to London in 1792, where he set up shop as a bookseller and became an active member of the London Corresponding Society. He allowed his home and shop to be used for meetings and, in May 1794, was arrested along with a dozen others, and remitted to Newgate Prison for his efforts. Upon release he entered the business of selling tokens, publishing a handbill listing twenty obverse and twenty reverse dies that could be ordered paired in any combination, and authoring an early guide to the series, The Coin Collector's Companion in 1795. He issued and sold a variety of tokens before quitting the business in late 1796; his stock and dies passing to Skidmore where they continued to be muled amongst themselves and with others then in Skidmore's possession.
Skidmore, Founded by John Skidmore (1748-1823) and later joined by his second son, Paul (b. 1775) in 1795 or 1796. They carried on an iron-foundry and held the appointment of stovegrate maker to His Majesty's Board of Ordance. The company produced numerous tokens, ultimately responsible for more than a quarter of all the token varieties produced in the late 18th century, including those issued by Matthew Denton, Thomas Prattent, and Thomas Spence.