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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - Henry VIII, Third Coinage

Table of Contents

Henry VIII., 1509 to 1547.
Third Coinage

The THIRD coinage of Henry VIII. took place in the 34th year of his reign; with the types underwent some alteration, and the coin was deteriorated both in weight and fineness. The penny now weighed only 10 gr.; and two oz., in twelve, of alloy was used.

This coinage consisted of shillings, groats, half groats, pence, and halfpence. The king is represented with a front or nearly front face, crowned, wearing a royal mantle with a fur collar; the legend contains his titles, including the new one of King of Ireland, HENRICI VIII DI GRA ANGL FRA Z HIB REX.

This type has generally been considered to have been introduced at the same time that the coin was debased, but specimens in fine silver of various denominations contradict this view; they bear however the title of king of Ireland, and must therefore have been struck only just before the debasement. No indenture or proclamation for such a coinage is known, but it is probable that he would not delay displaying his new title of king of Ireland upon his coins: we know he immediately issued Irish coins.

The shillings, or testoons as they were named, have the king's bust, full faced, in royal mantle, fur collar, MM. lis, HENRIC VIII &c. Rev. a rose crowned between the letters H. R. also crowned; the legend POSVI DEVM ADIVTOERIVM. MEVM. MM. two lis, MB. Rud. viii. 2. Sn. iii. 38. These plates have only one lis on the rev. Another in MB. reads ADIVTOREUM. A third with one lis on rev. reads ADITORIVM.

The groat has the same MM. and a similar bust, but the face not quite so full, leg. HENRIC. 8. &c. Rev. cross and shield; an annulet in each fork of the cross. MM. lis, leg. POSVI &c. MB. 3. Rud. viii. 3. Sn. iii. 37.

Half groat same as groat in every respect. Rud. viii. 4. Sn. iii. 36. perhaps also Rud. viii. 13. Sn. iii. 44. MB.

Penny: legend ROSA &c. MM. lis. Rev. shield, CIVITAS LONDON. Rud. viii. 5. Sn. iii. 35. The quality of the metal induces us to assign to this coinage a York penny. Bust mantled, rev. reads CIVITAS EBORACI. MB.

We shall now proceed to describe those pieces, which, from the apparent quality of the metal, seem to have really belonged to the coinage of his 34th year. As the types of these, and of the still further debased coinages of his 36th and 37th years, appear to be in many instances the same, no reliance can be placed upon engravings for distinguishing the separate coinages, and our arrangement will be derived exclusively from pieces actually examined. We cannot however venture to assert that we are always correct, for appearances are deceitful, and we cannot resort to the only true test, an assay.

Shilling: types as in fine silver, but 8 instead of VIII. MM. before leg., a lis; after, annulet enclosing a pellet. Rev. MM. annulet inclosing a pellet. MB. (401). or MM. obv. annulet. Rev. annulet and pellet. Rud. viii. 6.

Groat: similar to that of fine silver. MM. on both sides, lis, annulet inclosing pellet between forks of cross MB. Another, MM. arrow, annulet between forks. Rud. viii. 8. MB. MM. rev. only, a picklock; a half rose between forks of the cross. MB. There are others in which the bust is smaller, not in a royal mantle, but having a plain falling collar, like Rud. viii. 10. MM. lis on both sides, annulet inclosing pellet in each fork. MB. or MM. martlet, some uncertain object in the forks, probably half a rose as in some groats of Canterbury. (402). MB. One with royal mantle, no MM. has S between each fork, leg. CIVITAS LONDON, with two trefoils before and after each word. MB. Sn. iii. 42. not quite correct.

A Bristol groat has mantled bust, WS for mint mark on rev., and two small trefoils after each word; nothing in the forks of the cross. MB.

A Canterbury groat has the bust with the plain collar, no MM, half a rose in each fork, leg. CIVITAS CANTOR, a pellet before and after each word of legend. MB. Another without the pellets. MB.

The York groat has the mantled bust, no MM, nothing in the forks, leg. CIVITAS EBORACI with two trefoils before and after each word. MB. (403). Rud. viii. 9. Another has the plain mantle and falling collar, no MM., one trefoil at the beginning, four in middle of legend. MB.

The half groats which we suppose to belong to this coinage are of Bristol and Canterbury, and perhaps York.

The Bristol one has the mantled bust, no MM.; and in the legend IR erroneously for FR. Rev. shield and cross without any object in the fork; MM. lis, between CIVITAS and BRISTOLIE; and WS, in monogram, at the commencement. (404). MB. Another has a lis between each fork of the cross, one after CIVITAS, and another before BRISTOLIE. MB.

The Canterbury half groat is similar in type to the Bristol, but without any MM. It reads CIVITAS CANTOR. Rud. Sup. iv. 21. Sn. iii. 41. MB.

York: On the authority of Rud. viii. 14. like the groat without the trefoils.

The London penny has the full faced mantled bust, with H. D. G. ROSA SINE SPINA--no MM. Rev. CIVITAS LONDON, all in Roman letters. (405). Rud. viii. 16. MB. MM. on rev. picklock. MB. Perhaps Sn. iii. 40. with MM. lis and old English N belong to this coinage.

The Bristol has generally the head smaller, and more of the body shown; the legend commences HE 8 D. G. &c. with a cross after the word ROSA. The rev. has lis between the words CIVITAS and BRISTOLIE, and two pellets at the commencement; all the letters are old English. (406). Rud. viii. 17. MB.

Halfpence of this coinage were struck in London, Canterbury and York. They have all the king's bust, front faced, wearing the royal mantle, and with the ROSA &c. legend. The reverse has the cross fourchee with pellets in the quarters, and the name of the mint for legend. (407). Rud. viii. 18-19. One of the London halfpence has the cross scarcely forked, and upon its centre an annulet inclosing a pellet. MB. (408).

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