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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - George III, Description of the Coins

Table of Contents

George III., 1760-1820
Description of the Coins

Crowns: The demand for a silver currency was so urgent that the great efforts of the Mint were directed to the issue of pieces of the smaller denominations, and it was only after the country had been tolerably well supplied with such coin that preparations were made for striking crowns. These pieces have the king's bust to the right, laureate, hair short, neck bare, GEORGIVS III. D. G. BRITANNIARUM REX. F. D. 1818. Under the head PISTRUCCI. Edge, DECUS ET TUTAMEN. ANNO REGNI LVIII. Rud. Sup. 2. xiv. 1. MB. The letters upon the edge of the coin are in high relief, and of its entire width. The artist by whom this piece was engraved was Sig. Pistrucci, who had deservedly attained the highest reputation for skill and taste as an engraver of gems. He was unacquainted with the art of engraving dies, and a more intimate knowledge of the talent which already existed in the kingdom, and even within the walls of the Mint, would have saved Lord Maryborough from the reproach of unnecessarily insulting the whole body of native artists, and of inflicting, perhaps a fatal, mortification upon a most amiable young man, and an artist at least as talented as the stranger who was placed over his head. In truth the Mint authorities in this business have committed great errors. They commenced by engaging an artist whose talents, though of the highest order in his proper department, were not required, and which, when obtained, they did not know how to employ. The reverse of the crown was adopted from a gem engraved by Pistrucci for Lord Spencer; the design was copied from a gem by Pikler, which was itself copied from a shell cameo representing a battle, in the collection of the Duke of Orleans; the shield, which, in the original was upon the left arm of the figure, is omitted; and the position of the right leg was purposely by unfortunately changed; for as the hero now sits upon his horse he must inevitably fall to the ground the moment he attempts to strike the mediated blow with his sword. The work however is beautifully executed, and its appearance (which first occurred upon the sovereign, 1817) was hailed with pleasure, and with the hope that those who were in authority were weaning themselves from their attachment to armorial bearings, and becoming alive to the beauty, interest and importance of historical reverses. The hope however was shortlived, no such coins have yet been allowed to appear, and all the efforts made by the present chief engraver to be permitted to produce a reverse, which might be honourable alike to himself and the country, have hitherto proved unavailing. Of the type of the crown we have just described we have others of the same year, but dated on the edge LIX. MB. 1819. LIX. MB. 1819. LX. MB. 1820. LX. MB. These coins were first issued in the month of October.

Half-Crowns: Bust presenting the back to the spectator, profile to the right, laureate, hair short; GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA. 1816. Rev. Armorial shield, 1 and 4 England. 2. Scotland. 3. Ireland. Hanover on an escutcheon of pretence surmounted by a kingly crown. The shield within the garter inscribed with its usual motto; above, the crown, from which proceeds the collar of the order with its pendent badge, BRITANNIARUM REX FID. DEF. In the garniture of the shield are the letters W. W. P. for William Wellesley Pole, the Master of the Mint, and W. for Thomas Wyon, the chief engraver, by whom the dies were engraved after a model in jasper by Pistrucci. The edge of the coin is milled, not lettered as had always before been the practice upon half-crowns. Rud. sup. 2. xiv. 2. MB. Similar, of the year 1817. Before the close of the year the type was altered; the breadth of bare shoulder and the ferocious expression of the king's countenance were not approved; the shoulder was therefore removed, and the expression softened, upon the new dies, and the letters of the legend are much larger. Rev. A shield similar to the former, but ungarnished, within the garter, and crowned; the collar and badge being omitted. Legend the same but letters larger. W. W. P. are on the buckle of the garter. 1817. Rud. Sup. 2. xiv. 3. MB. 1818. MB. 1819. MB. 1820. MB.

Shillings: These, and the sixpences which resemble them, were the first pieces which were struck of the new coinage from the dies engraved by Thomas Wyon, the bust being copied from a model in jasper by Pistrucci. The dies are most beautifully executed, and the form of the coin may be quoted as a model, being admirably adapted to support the wear and tear of an extensive circulation. Bust to the right, laureate, hair short, GEOR. III. D. G. BRITT. REX F. D. 1816. Rev. Armorial shield like that of the crown (sic), garnished, within the garter of the order, and crowned. On the garniture are the letters W. W. P. and W. MB. These shillings also occur of the dates 1817. Rud. Sup. 2. xiv. 4. MB. 1818. MB. 1819. MB. 1820. MB.

Sixpences: These exactly resemble the shillings, and occur of the same dates.

Maundy Money: Of this description there are four varieties. The first has the bust to the left, laureate, hair short, armour and drapery like the Northumberland shilling, 1763. GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA. Rev. Numeral crowned, and British titles with the date. The dies for these pieces were engraved by Ocks, who was a Swiss, and held a situation in the Mint for 72 years. Of this type we have Groats dated 1763. 1766. 1770. 1772. 1776. 1780. 1784. 1786.

Threepences: 1762. 1763. 1765. 1766. 1770. 1772. 1780. 1784. 1786.

Half-Groats: 1764. 1765. 1766. 1772. 1776. 1780. 1784. 1786.

Pence: 1763. 1766. 1770. 1772. 1776. 1779. 1780. 1781. 1784. 1786.

The second variety was engraved by L. Pingo, and differs on the obverse from the preceding, in having the King's bust exactly like that of the shilling of 1787. The rev. has the numerals, of the written form, crowned with a small crown with angular bars. The legend consists of the same titles as the preceding, it commences at the bottom of the coin and continues all round uninterruptedly. The date is at the bottom. 1792 is the only date which occurs of this type; and the series of 4. 3. 2. and 1 penny is complete. The figure upon the penny is a small 1 not in the written character.

The third variety has the same obverse as the second; but the reverse has the ordinary Arabic numerals, of a large size, the crown too is large with round arched bars, the cross at the top piercing the legend which commences at the bottom, date below. Of this type we have all the denominations of the dates 1795 and 1800.

The fourth variety has the bust copied from the shilling of 1816. GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA with the date under the head. The reverse has the numerals and crown large, interrupting the legend which commences at the bottom, BRITANNIARVM REX FID. DEF. We have all the denominations of the dates 1817. 1818. Rud. Supp. 2. xiv. 5. 1820.

Cr. ½Cr. Shil. 6d. 4d. 3d. 2d. 1d.
1787, dot over head++
1817, 1st type+
1817 (½ Cr. 2d type)+++++++
1818, LVIII.+
1818, LIX.+
1819, LIX.+
1819, LX.+
1820, LX.+

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