King George III was the ruler of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 until his death in 1820. His reign was one of conflict, with wars arising across the world with the continual expansion of the British Empire. Early in King George III’s reign he won the Seven Years’ War against France in 1763, making Britain the dominant power in North America and India.
This by no means led to peace across the British Empire, with colonies across the new world becoming unhappy with the large amounts of tax they had to pay whilst having no seats or power in Parliament. By 1775 the War for American Independence had broken out and with the help of France, they had taken their independence by 1783.
With the French Revolution overthrowing the French monarchy there was rising tension in Britain that the French, under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would try to invade. There was a swell in the number of volunteers to the army with 27,000 being reviewed in Hyde Park. King George III was said to have told Bishop Hurd that he would lead his troops from the front against Bonaparte.
King George III was plagued with mental illness throughout his later life and in 1810 a regency was created where his
son Prince George IV would rule in his place. Napoleon’s armies were defeated at the battle of Waterloo and he surrendered a few days after the battle. Britain and King George III had earned a decisive victory.
Soho Mint was created by Matthew Boulton (1728 - 1809) in 1788 in his Soho Manufactory in Handworth, West Midlands England. A mint was erected at the manufactory containing eight machines, to his own patent design, driven by steam engine, each capable of striking 70 to 84 coins per minute.
In addition to copper domestic coins, silver coins were made for some of the colonies, and various trade token and medals were struck. Among the medals produced were the Seringapatam medal, made for the East India Company in 1801–2 to reward participants of the Battle of Seringapatam, and a medal for the Battle of Trafalgar, which Matthew Boulton produced at his own expense and gave to all those present at the 1805 battle.
A coin shortage saw the government in 1797, authorise Matthew Boulton to strike copper pennies and twopences at his Soho Miint, in Birmingham. It was believed that the face value of a coin should correspond to the value of the material it was made from, so each coin was made from two pence worth of copper (2 ounces). This requirement means that the coins are significantly larger than the silver pennies minted previously. The large size of the coins, combined with the thick rim where the inscription was punched into the metal, led to the coins being nicknamed "cartwheels" All "cartwheel" twopences are marked with the date 1797. In total, around 720,000 twopences were minted and are some of the most iconic British coins to be created using a new method of steam driven manufacture produced by James Watt (1736 - 1819)
Jean-Pierre Droz (1746 - 1823) was a coin and medal engraver born in Switzerland and trained in Paris. Droz was most known for engraving the Napoléon coin at the Paris Mint. He was employed by the prominent English manufacturer and business man, Matthew Boulton (1728 - 1809) to improve Boulton's coin and medal quality. However, he worked there for just two years and produced some beautiful patterns pieces. In 1789, Droz devised a collar used to engrave the sides of coins and ensure a circular shape, and though it was unsuitable for large numbers of coins, it remained in use at the Soho mint.