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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - James I

Table of Contents

James I.

Upon the accession of James I. to the throne of England, the two kingdoms of England and Scotland were united under one sovereign. This event took place March 24, 1603, and on the 21st of May an indenture was executed for the issue of a new coinage, the silver to consist of crowns, half-crowns, shillings, sixpences, half-groats, pennies and halfpence, of the standard fineness, 11 oz. 2 dwt of silver with 18 dwts of alloy; and of the weight of 7 23/31 gr. to the penny.

The king is styled IACOBVS. D.G. ANG. SCO FRAN. (or FRA) ET HIB. REX, and the armorial shield bears 1 and 4 France and England quarterly, 2. Scotland, 3. Ireland. This is the first coin on which the arms of Scotland and Ireland appear. The large cross, which, ever since the conquest, except upon the shilling of Edward VI. and the shilling and sixpence of Philip and Mary, had been placed over the reverse, was now omitted. All the pieces of this king, on which his bust appears, have behind the head XII. VI. II. or I. to indicate their respective values.

The crown represents the king on horseback, sword in hand, the housings decorated with a rose crowned. The shield is garnished, and the legend is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI. from Psalm lxviii. v. 1. MM. Thistle. Rud. xvi. 1. MB. or Lis. Snelling viii. 7. MB.

The half crown exactly resembles the crown, and has the same MM. Thistle. Rud. xvi. 2. MB. or Lis, Snell. viii. 6. (461). MB.

The shilling represents the bust of the king, in figured armour, crowned; the shield quite plain, legend same as upon crown. MM. Thistle. Rud. xvi. 3. MB. or Lis. Snell. viii. 5. MB.

The sixpence is the same as the shilling, except that it has over the shield the date of the year, MM. Thistle, 1603. Rud. xvi. 4. (462). MB. and 1604. MB. Lis. 1604. Snell. viii. 4. MB.

The half-groat resembles the shilling in type, but on the obverse reads I.D.G. ROSA SINE SPINA. The reverse is without any legend, and has the MM. over the shield. These are the Thistle. Rud. xvi. 6. MB. Lis. 9. Snell. viii. 3. MB.

The penny exactly resembles the half-groat, MM. Thistle. Rud. xvi. 7. MB. Lis. 10. Snell. viii. 2. (463). MB.

The half-pennies have on the obverse the portcullis exactly the same as those of Elizabeth, and it is only by the MM. that they can be distinguished from the coins of the same denomination of that queen. the reverses have the cross moline, with three pellets in each quarter. MM. Thistle. Rud. xvi. 8. MB. Lis. 11. Snell. viii. 1. MB.

In the second year of his reigh, James assumed the title of King of Great Britain, and an indenture was executed Nov. 11, 1604, for a coinage, whereon the king's new titles were to be adopted; MAG. BRIT. being substituted for ANG. SCO. The weight, fineness and denominations of both coinages were alike; the types were nearly the same, except upon the smaller money, and the legends of the reverses were altered.

The crowns resembled the former coinage in type, but bore the legend, referring to the union of the two kingdoms, QVAE DEVS CONIVNXIT NEMO SEPARET, Matthew xix. v. 6. The MM. are the Thistle, Rud. xvii. 2. MB. Lis. 1. Snell. viii. 16. MB. Trefoil. (464). MB. Escallop. CUFF. Snelling mentions one with rose MM. but we have not seen it.

Upon referring to the sixpences it will be seen that the three MM. thistle, lis and rose, occur at two different periods of the reign, and it is only by some peculiarities in the details of the types that we can form an opinion as to the date of each piece. Upon the crowns the form of the shield seems to form the best criterion; aided by the form of the harp in the quarterings of Ireland. Those pieces which have the garniture of the shield and form of the harp exactly the same as upon the first coinage, were probably struck at the earlier period; those which have the less garniture, and have the harp decorated with a bird's head, may be placed to the later period. Some crowns, with these MM., have the prince's plume over the shield, to indicate that they were struck from silver derived from the Welch mines; they are all of the later period, that is, not before the year 1621, probably not before 1622, as this decoration does not appear upon any coin with the rose MM. upon the whole it may be doubted whether there were any crowns or half-crowns struck after 1621 without the plumes over the shield.

Of the crowns with the plumes over the shield we have MM. Thistle. MB. Lis. Snell. viii. 17. where the housings are marked with a thistle instead of a rose. CUFF. Trefoil. Rud. xvii. 2. rev. only. (465). MB.

There is one crown with MM. thistle, which in the legend has & instead of ET; has a thistle instead of a rose upon the housings of the horse; has the lesser and later garniture of the shield and the harp perfectly plain. The obverse exactly resembles, is indeed, at least in some pieces, from the same die as the crown piece struck for Scotland, probably in the year 1622, the date which appears upon the sixpence of what we consider the same coinage. (466). MB. For obverse see Rud. xvii. 2. where it is connected with a wrong reverse.

The half-crowns of this coinage in a great degree resemble the crowns; but the harps have all the bird's head decoration. With the full garniture of the shield we have MM. Thistle. MB. Lis. MB. Snell. viii. 14. rud. xvii. 4. obv. Trefoil. MB. Rud. xvii. 3. Rose. CUFF. Snelling mentions the escallop MM. but we have not seen it. With the lesser garniture without plumes we have not any, but with the plumes we have MM. Lis. Snell. viii. 15. MB. Trefoil. Rud. xvii. 4. Rev. MB. Besides these we have the half-crown, like the Scotch, with MM. Thistle, thistle also on the housings, lesser garniture of the shield and plain harp. MB. exactly resembling the crown before described.

The shillings have the same general type as the first coinage, but have the QVAE DEVS legend. The bust upon the earlier of these is smaller than upon the later, the hair behind the ears is short and sits close to the head. Of the earlier we have MM. Lis. MB. Rose. MB. Escallop. MB. Grapes. (467). MB. In the year 1607 a slight alteration occurs; the head becomes somewhat larger, and the hair behind is longer and more projecting; the moustaches also become a little longer. Of these we have MM. Coronet. MB. Key. MB. Bell. MB. Mullet. MB. Tower. MB. Cinquefoil. MB. Ton. MB. Rose. MB. After these we have, with the bird-headed harp, MM. Thistle. MB. is. Rud. xvii. 5. Snell. viii. 12. MB. Trefoil. MB. All these have the plain shield; but besides these we have, with feathers over the shield, and bird-headed harp, MM. Thistle. (468). MB. Lis. Snell. viii. 13. MB. Trefoil, Rud. xvii. 6. MB. The book and spur rowel shillings mentioned by Snelling we have not seen.

The sixpences have the same type as the shillings, and, in a great degree, the same peculiarities, but the change in the adjustment of hair at the back of the king's head does not appear to have taken place before the year 1621, at the same time when the bird-headed harp was introduced upon those pieces. The sixpences are all dated, and are valuable in that respect, as furnishing some clue to the dates of the introduction of some variations in the details of the workmanship, and fixing the dates of the other pieces. With the compact hair and plain harp we have MM. Lis. 1604. 1605. MB. Escallop. 1606. MB. Grapes. 1607. MB. Coronet. 1607. 1608. MB. Key. 1609. MB. Bell. 1610. MB. Mullet. 1611. MB. Trefoil. 1613. MB. Cinquefoil. 1615. MB. Ton. 1615. MB. From this time till 1621 there seems not to have been any coinage except of small money; but in that year we have a sixpence with the large head and projecting hair, the harp plain, MM. Thistle. MB. and afterwards with the same larger head and bird- headed harp. MM. Rose. 1621. MB. Thistle. 1621. MB. 1622. Rud. xvii. 7. MB. 1623. MB. Lis. 1623. Snell. viii. 11. MB. 1624. MB. Trefoil. 1624. MB.

The half-groats differ materially from those of the first coinage; they have for obverse a rose crowned, with the legend I. D. G. ROSA SINE SPINA. Rev. A thistle crowned, with TVEATVR VNITA DEVS. Of these we have MM. Escallop. MB. Mullet. MB. Tower. (469). MB. Book. MB. Spur rowel or star. MB. Rose. MB. Thistle. MB. Lis. Snell. viii. 10. MB. Trefoil. MB. Rud. xvii. 8, represents one with a spur rowel on the obv. and trefoil on rev.; this we have not seen. We have not been able to detect any peculiarities which would enable us to separate the earlier from the later coins which have the MM. rose, thistle, lis, and trefoil. One coin differs from the rest in omitting the king's name, titles, &c. and having on both sides the legend TVEATVR &c. It has MM. plain cross. MB.

the penny differs from the half-groat only in having the rose and thistle without the crown above. Of these we have MM. Bell. (470). MB. Tower. MB. Cinquefoil. MB. Rose. MB. Lis. Snell. viii. 9. MB. Trefoil. Rud. xvii. 9. MB. Some are without MM. MB.

The halfpence differ from the pence in omitting the legend on both sides. The MM. are placed over the thistle and are, Lis. Snell. viii. 8. MB. Rose. Rud. xvii. 10. MB. Coronet. (471). MB. Some are without any. MB.

To shew at one view the various coinages of James I. we have annexed the following table. The crosses indicate the coins which are in the British Museum; the letters indicate the authorities upon which the existence of other coins is asserted. Of some marked Sn. for Snelling we have doubts, especially of the crowns and half-crowns with MM. rose and escallop.

It will be observed that the coins between the year 1615 and 1621 are very few; indeed it appears, from official accounts, that from April 1617 to Feb. 1620, silver money was coined only to the amount of 1070. 15s. 4d. but in the four following years to March 1625, the coinage amounted to 205,500. 16s. 2d.

The list of mint marks is taken from Snelling, the days of the month shweing when each was ordered to be used. He does not state upon what small monies the several mint marks appear, and as these pieces from their smallness are become very scarce, our list we apprehend is very defective; some indeed mentioned by Snelling, as crescent and saltire, we have not been able to discover. Folkes says that silver being at that time very scarce no money with those marks was ever struck.

Upon reference to the table it will appear that the mint was very irregularly at work, and that very little silver money was coined from about 1613, until 1621 when the scarcity of silver, alluded to by Folkes, began to be relieved by the working of the Welch mines, and the mint at Aberystwith was established for the purpose of striking money from silver produced in the Principality.

Cr. ½Cr. Shil. 6d. 2d. 1d. ½d.
ThistleMay 21, 1603Exurg+++++++
-------1604--------------+------
-----------Quae deus++--Sn.------
LisMay 22, 1604Exurg+++++++
-------Quae deus++++
---1605Quae deus------+------
RoseJune 20, 1605Sn.Sn.++
----1606------+
EscallopJuly 10, 1606CSn.+++
--------1607------Sn.
GrapesJune 30, 1607----++
CoronetNov. 11, 1607----++----+
-------1608------+
KeyMay 17, 1609----++
BellMay 11, 1610----++--+
MulletMay 9, 1611----+++
TowerMay 22, 1612----+Sn.++
TrefoilApl. 28, 1613++--+
CinquefoilOct 20,----+++
TonMay 17, 1615----++
BookNov 15, 1616----Sn.+
CrescentAug. 23, 1617
Plain crossMay 15, 1618--------+
Saltire crossJune 9, 1619
Spur rowelAug. 20, 1619Sn.+
RoseJune 23, 1620C
----1621+++++
ThistleJune 8, 1621+?+?+++
-----------Plume+--+--------
-------1622------+------
-------1623------+------
LisJuly 3, 1623--C ?+++++
-------PlumeC++--------
---1624------+
TrefoilJune 27, 1624Sn.Sn.++++
-----------Plume+++

Elizabeth, Table of Mint Marks | Table of Contents | Charles I


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