Penny Farthing & Two Pence

Bicycle & Georges III of England — & Swiss 5.-

In German speaking countries, the penny farthing bicycle is simply known as a “Hochrad” or high wheel or high bicycle. In England at the time of the high wheel invention, the money coins ranged from the crown and the half crown, via the penny, to the quarter penny – or the farthing. The penny and the farthing were thus suggestive relative sizes of the large and small wheel of this machine, and thus “coined” (pun intended) to name it, albeit only toward the end of its popularity.


While searching for the penny and the farthing, we discovered (in Grandmother’s box!) an earlier coin which seems to be a two penny. It is from 1797, one hundred years before the invention of the penny farthing bicycle, in the the reign of George the 3rd, and during the war of independence of colonial North America. According to web searches, it has some monetary value but as there are still plenty about it would fetch maybe 100Euros. Our specimen started out grey, so we placed it in cola and then beer to reveal its copper sheen.

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The oldest Swiss coin we came across is a 1851 5 franc — which it seems is a quite well known fake(!) Yet we found that one can be purchased on the web for 50.- It has a few imperfections plus a visible “ALP” at the bottom.