Coin Collecting at the Safir House
British Farthings with the Wren Desgn 1940s and 1950s



Farthings were one of the copper coins of the old British monetary system, which itself, like much of the world, was so confusing that it is amazing that it wasn't simplified earlier. Twenty Shillings made a Pound. 240 Pennies made a Pound. 5 Shillings made a Crown. A Guinea was 21 Shillings and was used to determin auction fees in business. A Shilling was 12 Pence (12 pennies) and they have sixpence coins, three pences coins, Pennies, a Half Penny and a Farthing (a quarter penny). A Penny was respresented with a small d. 3d was three pence. £ was a Pound. In addition to this, in conformity with much of Europe there were Florins that were 2 Shillings. A half-sovereign was 10 Shillings. A Crown was 5 Shillings. And then we finally had a Groat with was 4 Pence. Even with a nice chart, this was confusing as hell and was all scraped in 1971 for a simplied system which I won't go over here. There is a nice review of the old coinage at Project Britian

A roll of farthings getting ready for an acetone bath

The Wren design for the Farthing was created in 1937 with the accension to the throne of King Edward VIII. But it never made it into circulation as Edward abdicated in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The first example to be released for circulation was for King George VI who served as King though WWII. Based on the obverse, there was two Royal Protraits, one with inscription “GEORGIVS VI D: G: BR: OMN: REX F: D: IND IMP" and the later one after 1949 and the forumation of the British Commonwealth, “GEORGIVS VI D: G: BR: OMN: REX FIDEI DEF” as India and Pakastan were made independent.

Upon the accension of Queen Elizabeth II, more varieties were introduced. Two obverses arose, where the small cross above Elizabeth's head slightly differently aligns about the beaded rim. And the Wren side has two alignments as well, especially viewable with the word FARTHING that is etched along the bottom of the coin. There is also another variety with longer beads. A decent description of the coin is at Brushwood Coin

For me, the attraction to the Wren Farthing is the bird. I had a friend who once collected nothing but coins with birds, and she introduced me to the Wren. The coin is a bronze coin, nearly exactly the size of a US cent. The coins can be difficult to find in high quality, although the late years in the series have many above average examples as they didn't circulate. Like US cents today, many ended up in pickle jars collecting dust. After purchasing a few, I discovered on Ebay an entire set in a Whitman folder - all red examples, probably MS grades. I brought the set with the idea that I would pop them out of the folder and I would send them to ANACs for grading. I negotiated a special price with ANACs for the grading. and they did an outstanding job and turned them around quickly to me, even conserving 9 of the coins.

Whitman Folder with the complete Farthing Wren Collection
Whitman Folder with the complete Farthing Wren Collection
Whitman Folder with the complete Farthing Wren Collection

This was the grade sheet that returned from ANACS

Order# 	Item# 	Date 	Mint 	Denom 	Variety	Sup 	Grade
							
484094	7387341	1946		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 62
484094	7387342	1955		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 64
484094	7387343	1947		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 64
484094	7387344	1949		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 64
484094	7387345	1949		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 64
484094	7387346	1952		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 64
484094	7387347	1954		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 62
484094	7387348	1954		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 62
484094	7387349	1956		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 65
484094	7387350	1944		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387351	1943		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 63
484094	7387352	1940		FRTH	GR BRIT		AU 58
484094	7387353	1951		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 65
484094	7387354	1941		FRTH	GR BRIT		AU 58
484094	7387355	1941		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387356	1953		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 63
484094	7387357	1948		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 64
484094	7387358	1938		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387359	1953		FRTH	GR BRIT	RED	MS 65
484094	7387360	1945		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387361	1950		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 64
484094	7387362	1937		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387363	1939		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
484094	7387364	1942		FRTH	GR BRIT	RB	MS 63
ANACS# 7387362 1937 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387358 1938 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387363 1939 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387352 1940 FRTH GR BRIT AU 58
This is one of the only AUs of the set, but this coin survived the feircest part of the Battle of Britian.
ANACS# 7387354 1941 FRTH GR BRIT AU 58
ANACS# 7387355 1941 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS #7387364 1942 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387351 1943 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 63
ANACS# 7387350 1944 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387360 1945 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 63
ANACS# 7387341 1946 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 62
ANACS# 7387343 1947 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 64
ANACS# 7387357 1948 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 64
7387344 1949 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 64
7387345 1949 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 64
ANACS# 7387361 1950 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 64
ANACS# 7387353 1951 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 65
ANACS# 7387346 1952 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 64
ANAC# 7387356 1953 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 63
ANACS# 7387359 1953 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 65
ANACS# 7387347 1954 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 62
ANACS# 7387348 1954 FRTH GR BRIT RB MS 62
ANACS# 7387342 1955 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 64
ANACS# 7387349 1956 FRTH GR BRIT RED MS 65

One of the things that make these farthings amazing to me is that they survived the bombing of England during WWII which was known as the Battle of Britian, the air war between the British and the Nazi's prior to the entry of the US into WW22. This is esepcially true of the 1941 year coins, although not exclussively. Who was holding onto these coins in mint state with bombs falling down on their heads and air sirens and fire alarms constantly going off. It is quite amazing.

The Safir Family Internet Coin Library. Nearly all the coins here have been stolen. If you have any information on the theft, please contact us at mrbrklyn@panix.com

Click to see these examples show below including photography: note to lawyer: most of the good stuff is gone
Section I:
US Coints
Large Cent Coppers
Flying Eagle Cents
Lincoln Cents and Wheat Backs
Buffalo Nickels
Jefferson Nickels
Jefferson Silver War Nickels
Bust Half Dimes
Mercury (Liberrty Head) Dimes
Roosevelt Dime
Barber Quarter Dollars
Standing Libery Quarter
Washington and Washington State Quarters
Cap Bust Half Dollars
1813 o.108 AU58 Cap Bust Half Providence Powell.
1818 MS63 Cap Bust Half
1833 MS63 Cap Bust Half
Seated Half Dollars
Barber Half Dollars
Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Franklin Half Dollars
Kennedy Half Dollars
Morgan Silver Dollars
Peace Silver Dollars
Eisenhower Clad and Silver Dollars
Sacawagea Golden Dollars
Modern Silver and Clad Proof Sets
Modern American Silver Eagle uncirculated mint coins and proofs
Modern Silver and Clad 2008 Commorative Bald Eagle Series
Gold Coins - Not too many
Circulated US Silver Coins prior to 1964

Go To Section II:
Modern and Ancient Foreign Coins from Outside The United States

Go To Section III:
Mandy's 25th Anniversary World Wildlife Fund Silver Coins

Unsorted Extra stuff:
Bust US Coinage
From the coin Show at Melville Long Island

The Safir Family Internet Coin Library: Foriegn Coins.

Several mints from around the world make exciting coin designs in circulating alloys, silver and gold. Among my favorites are the Perth Mint in Austrailia which produces a variety of coins for nations mostly through out the Pacific Rim. The Neatherlands has also produced some interesting designs, and several private US based mints have produced foreign currency on contract, include the Franklin Mint which has produced many Israeli Coins.
Our interest in foreign coins has been nominal but rapidly growing as it seems that US designs are so stuck in the mud. Also, foreign mints are creating bold new designs with color and bimetal designs that are both eye catching and fun.

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