There is no doubt that Matthew Boulton established the Soho Mint for one purpose
and one purpose only. He saw himself as Coiner to the Crown, the manufacturer of
the copper coin which was so desperately needed by the close of the 1780s. But despite
extended and extensive lobbying and campaigning, nearly ten years would pass before
Soho Mint would begin to produce coin with His Majesty's portrait and permission.
And while Boulton was, by the standards of his time, a sympathetic and considerate
employer, he was not a charity. His mint had cost many thousands of pounds to set
up, an investment which from its completion in 1789 to the start of the cartwheel
contract in 1797 earned no revenue from official sources. The Mint needed to pay
So Boulton looked elsewhere for business. There were coinages in 1789, 1791 and 1796
for the East India Company which could possibly be thought of as quasi-official,
but it was with the unofficial British provincial token coinages that Soho concerned
itself in the early years.
● A brief history of these token coinages is told in a paper by Chris Leather 'Matthew
Boulton's Steam Mint - the Token Story.' which was originally given to the UK National
Token Congress in 2006.
The general is followed by the specific, with two papers by Dr Richard Doty examining
in some detail the stories behind two of Boulton's Provincial Tokens.
● 'A Sort of Record - Tokens for Inverness' looks at the issues for Mackintosh, Inglis
● 'His Last Bow - Tokens for Tullamore' recounts the complexities of the Irish Thirteenpences
struck for Viscount Charleville in 1802/3, Boulton's last foray into the British
"I have character, you're eccentric, and he's barking mad." Possibly, but Daniel
Eccleston was one of the 18th Century's great eccentrics. His Lancashire Halfpennies,
however, were also one of the 18th century's great tokens. But there is more to them
than meets the eye.
● A detailed study of the strikings shows how the Soho Mint had developed die multiplication
by 1794 when the Lancashire Halfpennies were produced.
● Boulton's first Soho Mint was intended to produce a national coinage for Great
Britain, but its mechanical shortcomings were made very evident by the large scale
coinage of large sized tokens for the Monneron Freres of Paris.
Mish Webster has written a fascinating account of Matthew Boulton's French adventures
of 1791 and 1792 which appears as Monnerons Issued!
● But all was not well, and Monnerons Banned! might have been the shock-horror headline
of 1792 France if it weren't for other matters going on there at the same time. This
paper looks at the decree of the Provisional Executive Council of the National Assembly
suppressing private coinages in France and putting an end to one of Soho's largest
● The story of Mr Croom’s Halfpence is one of the triumph of cost-saving over innovation,
as Matthew Boulton and the Soho Mint lost a repeat order for tokens for Dundee on
account of a price rise - a rise forced by a rise in the cost of copper.