John Wilkinson, English ironmaster, c 1780-1790.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wilkinson invented the cannon-boring machine and established the first blast-furnace at Bilston, Staffordshire, supplying arms to America and France. When official coinage became scarce in the 1780s, industrialists began to mint their own. Wilkinson replaced the king's effigy with his own on this token. The second token, dated 1792, commemorates the recently opened Iron Bridge spanning the River Severn at Coalbrookdale.