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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - Henry VI

Table of Contents

Henry VI. 1422 to 1461.

Although there is not any doubt but that the great mass of the coins of the Henries now extant were struck by Henry VI., yet there are but extremely few that can with certainty be assigned to him. It has been supposed that Henry IV. and V. used no other mints than that in London, as in the first year of Henry VI. authority was given to coin also in York and Bristol; it would have followed then that all coins of the proportion of 15 grains to the penny of these two mints belonged to Henry VI. But the weight and workmanship of a penny already noticed compel us to modify this opinion in regard to Henry IV. who, as the coin in question proves, did coin at York.

Bristol: Of this heavy coinage no pieces of this mint are known.

York: Groat: HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGLIE Z FRANC. Lis at each side of breast, annulet between pellets in two quarters and after POSVI and EBORACI. MM cross. MB. 50 7/10 gr. ext. rare. Rud. Sup. ii. 18. In this plate the annulets in the legend are omitted. MM. lis. E on breast, trefoils in the legend. Sn. ii. 34.

Half-groat: ext. rare: One was sold at Dimsdale's sale, and may be the same which is now Mr. Shepherds. The type is exactly the same as that of the groat.

Pennies: York: MM. cross crosslet, HENRICVS REX ANGLIE, cross at each side of head. Rud. Sup. ii. 33. MB. Saltire instead of crosses. MB Similar, but mullets instead of crosses, rose before, lozenge? after REX. lozenge before TAS. rose before EBORACI. (340). Sir H. ELLIS. MM. ? cinquefoil at left, annulet at right. Sir H. ELLIS. MM. cross pierced; cinquefoil at left, lis at right of crown. Rev. annulet in one quarter and after CIVITAS. MB. Rud. Up. ii. 29. Sn. ii. 32. Similar, but trefoil instead of lis. Sir. H. ELLIS. Mullet at left, trefoil at right. Rud. Sup. ii. 30. MB. Cross at left. annulet? at right. MB. Cinquefoil at each side, 31. Trefoil at each side, 32. ANGLI instead of ANGLIE. Mullet at left, trefoil at right, 28. Lis at each side, annulet between pellets. Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD. This is evidently the same coinage as the similar groat and half-groat above described, and is ext. rare. ANGL or ANGLIE Z F. cinquefoil at left, annulet at right. MB. (338). similar but reads ANGL Z FRANC. MB. Rud. Sup. iii. 1. ANGLIE Z F. cinquefoil at left, trefoil at right. MB. MM. cinquefoil. HENRIC. DEI. GRA. REX ANG. trefoil at each side of shoulder. Rud. Sup. iii. 3.

All the preceeding have, in the centre of the reverse, an open quatrefoil inclosing a pellet.

Halfpenny: York: HENRIC REX ANGL. MM. cross fleury? cross after HEN. RIC and REX pellet at each side of crown, (339). Snell, ii. 22. Rud. Sup. iii. 9. MM. cross pierced, two crosses before and after REX. Lis at each side of neck; annulet in two quarters. Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD.

Farthing: York: H. D. G. AN. Z FRA IE REX. in the field. C. I. for Cancellarius Johannes Kemp. Abp. 1425 to 1453. Snell. ii. 30. Rud. Sup. iii. 10. HENRIC DI GRA REX AN. Key under the head. Snell. ii. 31. Rud. Sup. iii. 11, or without AN. CUFF.

We now approach another difficulty. Edward IV. in his interstitial usurpation, diminished the weight of the penny from 15 grains to 12, at which it remained till after the close of the reign of Henry VII. In his fifth year this monarch changed the type of the coins, by the introduction of the arched crown, and the difficulty therefore is, to distinguish between the coins struck by Henry VI. after his restoration, and those of Henry VII. previous to the alteration of the type. An appropriation, founded upon a minute examination of the types, particularly of the form of the crown, has been suggested, and we have no doubt will be found correct.

Among the groats of the Henries, weighing 48 gr. there are some, which have the crown broad and flat, resembling those of the previous Henries, and also of Edward IV. whilst there are others, whose crown is larger, and the ornamental balls are placed upon taller and more upright footstalks, resembling the type of Richard III. and those of Henry VII. with the arched crown. If the reader will take a number of the coins of these four reigns, and arrange before him according to their types, without reference to the names, he will find those Henries with the broad and flat crown mingled with the coins of Edward IV. and those with the larger and taller crown mixed with the coins of Richard III. and closely allied to the arched crown of Henry VII.

Hitherto the mistaken idea that the arched crown was the type of Henry VIIth's first coinage, has induced collectors to assign all groats of 48 gr. to Henry VI. under the name of his light groats; and though such coins are not common, yet specimens to exist, of various types; and collectors have been puzzled to explain how, in so short and unsettled a period as his restoration, Henry VI. could have used so many distinct types. By the appropriation above made, the majority of the types and coins will fall to Henry VII., while those assigned to Henry VI. would be very few and very rare--a result which might reasonably be expected.

It is also worthy of remark, that most of the types thus attributed to Henry VII., have for a MM. a lis upon a rose. The lis, which is the uppermost of these MM, very frequently occurs upon the coins of the Lancastrian kings in allusion to their French conquests; the rose was the common symbol of the York party; it is not improbable that this combination of the two may have had an allusion to the union of the two families.

According to the above theory, the following coins are assigned to Henry VI.

Groats: London: HENRICV DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC. MM. cross on both sides. MB. 42 4/10. Similar, but rev. MM. cross pierced, and lis after DEVM. MB. 47 ½ (342). The lis on the rev. is curious and confirmatory, because the lis upon the gold coins of Henry VI. is exceedingly common. v. r.

Bristol: HENRICV &c. same as London. B on breast. MM. rose? Rev. VILLA BRISTOW. MM. lis. Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD. Another reads HENRICVS and ANG. MM. cross. Rev. MM. rose. (341). Rud. E. 8. MB. 43 8/10. v. r.

York: HENRICV &c. as London. E on the breast. CIVITAS EBORACI. MM, on both sides, lis. MB. 47 3/10. Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD. 47. Rud. iv. 19. less rare.

Half groats: London: HENRICV DI GRA REX ANGL Z FR. MM. cross pierced. (343). Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD. 22 gr. in perfect preservation, ext. r.

York: Similar but MM. on both sides, lis. Rud. iv. 20. This we have not seen.

Halfpenny: London: HENRICV REX ANGL. two crosses before REX, lozenge after. MM. cross, some object on breast. (344). MB. 8 gr. Another light halfpenny reads HENRIC DI. GRA &c., and has three pellets at each side of neck. Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD. Another, reading the same, without the pellets, MM cross pierced. 10 gr. (345). Rev. E. J. SHEPHERD.

Farthing: London: Like the halfpenny; HENRICV. cross before and after REX. (346). MB.

Henry IV and Henry V | Table of Contents | Unattributable coins of Henry IV, V, and VI

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