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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - George IV

Table of Contents

George IV., 1820 to 1830.

When George IV. ascended the throne upon the death of his father, January 30, 1820, the usual preparations were made for a new coinage upon the same principles as before, and Crowns, Half- crowns, Shillings and Sixpences, besides the Maundy money, were issued in the course of the reign. The Standard continued the same, 11 oz. 2 dwts. of silver, and 18 dwts. alloy. The weight was the same as had been established in 1816, that is sixty-six shillings were coined out of one pound of silver, and the other coins in proportion. Upon this coinage the king's bust is represented with profile to the left, laureate, the neck bare, GEIRGIVS IIII D. G. BRITANNIAR. REX F. D. underneath the bust B. P. the initials of Pistrucci, by whom the dies were engraved.

Crowns: Rev. The George and Dragon as upon the crowns of his father, but of larger dimensions, and omitting the garter; the floating hair behind the helmet is also omitted. Exergue, the date, and B. P. Close under the broken shaft of the lance are the letters W. W. P. for William Wellesley Pole; they are extremely small, and in many pieces quite illegible, even with the aid of a magnifier; the space between the lines being filled up, or compressed in the die, and leaving only the appearance of a short thickish line. The edge is inscribed with large raised letters. Of these pieces we have the dates 1821. SECVNDO. Rud. R. 2. 1821. TERTIO. This is a Mint blunder, for George IV. did not commence the third year of his reign before the 30th Jan. 1822. 1822. SECVNDO. If these dates are strictly correct, all the pieces bearing them must have been struck in the month of January 1822. 1822. TERTIO.

Towards the close of the year 1824 his Majesty expressed his disapprobation of the portrait upon his coins, not liking the harsh wiryness of the hair, nor deeming the likeness correct. Chantrey had about this time finished his admirable bust of the king, which was universally approved as an exquisite work of art, and a most perfect resemblance; and he was therefore commanded by his Majesty to prepare a medallion from the bust, which might serve as a model for the portrait upon his future coinage. When the medallion was completed, Pistrucci was directed to engrave dies for a new coinage; this he positively refused to do, on the ground of its being beneath his dignity to copy the works of any other artist. The work was therefore confided to Mr. William Wyon, and Pistrucci from that time has been allowed to enjoy a sinecure at the Mint. One result of these circumstances was to make more publicly known the merits of a highly gifted artist, and to prove that England has no need of foreign aid for the production of a coinage at least equal to any in Europe.

The Crown of this new coinage represents the bust of the king with profile to the left, the neck bare, and without the laurel wreath, GEORGIVS IV. DEI GRATIA. 1825. Rev. Square shield, slightly garnished, blazoned like the preceding, without colour, surmounted by a royal helmet, crowned, from whence issues rich scroll work descending at the sides of the shield; underneath is an ornamented scroll inscribed with the motto DIEU ET MON DROIT. The legend is BRITANNIARUM REX FID. DEF. This reverse is beautifully executed by Merlin. This type occurs with the dates 1825, plain edge. 1826. SEPTIMO, edge inscribed as usual, with raised letters but much smaller. Rud. R. 6. where colour is improperly introduced into the shield. These pieces are exceedingly beautiful, but, though dies were prepared in each of the two succeeding years, none were actually issued for currency.

Half-Crowns: The obverse is exactly the same as that of the crown. The reverse of the earlier half- crowns has the shield richly garnished and blazoned in the same manner as those of George III. but without colour; the crown is large and richly decorated; in the field are sprigs of rose, thistle, and shamrock, with the words ANNO 1820. The edge is milled. In the centre of the three leaves of shamrock are respectively the three letters W. W. P. This reverse was engraved by Merlin, a native of France, and eminent for the neatness, elegance and minuteness of detail with which he executes all works of this description; the letters also upon these and other pieces were put in by him, and are very neatly decorated with frost work. Of this type we have the dates 1820. 1821. Rud. R. 3. where indications of colour are erroneously introduced in the shield. 1823. Towards the end of this year a new reverse was adopted, upon which the arms are in a square shield, the colours expressed, crowned, within the garter inscribed with its usual motto, and the collar of the order with its appendant badge; underneath the date ANNO. 1823. Rud. R. 4. This reverse was also engraved by Merlin. This type occurs with the dates 1823. 1824. Towards the close of this year dies were prepared by Wyon for half-crowns similar to his crowns of 1826, none however but a few proofs were struck; in the following year they were issued for general circulation, and occur of the dates 1825. 1826. 1828. 1829.

Shillings: The first shilling of this reign exactly resembles the half-crown, and occurs of the date 1824. The second shilling exactly resembles the second half-crown, except that the collar of the order is omitted on the reverse; it occurs of the dates 1823. Rud. R. 7. 1824. 1825. The third shilling has the obverse like the third half-crown, but a new style of reverse was introduced, consisting of the royal crest, a crown surmounted by a crowned lion; underneath a united sprig of rose, thistle and shamrock, BRITANNIARVM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR; it occurs of the dates 1825. 1826. 1827. 1829. Rud. R. 8. This device had never before been adopted upon a current coin; it was at one time proposed, and patterns, for seven shilling pieces of gold, were struck of this type in 1775.

Sixpences: There are three coinages of sixpences exactly resembling the shillings. The first has the date 1821. The second has the dates 1824. 1825. 1826. The third has the dates 1826. 1827. 1828. 1829.

The Maundy money has the bust, &c exactly like those upon the early coins of the king, by Pistrucci. The reverse is by Merlin, consisting of the numeral crowned between branches of oak: the date in the field. They all occur of all the dates from 1822 to 1830, both inclusive. Rud. R. 5. The head upon the three-pence of 1822 is smaller than upon that piece of all the other dates. The fact is that the first die broke, and as there was not time to engrave another die with the proper sized head, one was made from the punch of the two-pence.

Cr. ½Cr. Shil. 6d. 4d. 3d. 2d. 1d.
1820, Shield garn.++
1821, SECVNDO+
1821, TERTIO+
1821, Shield garn.+++
1822, SECVNDO+
1822, TERTIO+++++
1823, Shield garn.+
1823, Sq. sh. in garter++++++
1824, Do.+++++++
1825, Do.++++++
1825, Wyon's++
1826, Do.+++
1826, Pistrucci+++++
1827, Wyon++++++
1828, Do.++++++
1829, Do.+++++++

The bust upon all the Maundy money of this reign continued to be struck after Pistrucci's model, even after Wyon's bust had been adopted upon the current coin.

The crown of 1820 is rather a pattern than a coin, it was never put into circulation; it differs from the subsequent currency in having a streamer of hair attached to the helmet of St. George.

George III, Description of the Coins | Table of Contents | William IV

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