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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - William III

Table of Contents

William III., 1695 to 1702.

After the death of Mary, Dec. 28, 1694, the coinage continued to be conducted upon the same principles, though the type was varied.

As the hammered money had never been actually withdrawn from circulation, the process of clipping had been carried on to a great extent; the greater part of the coins had become so much worn, that the impression was nearly obliterated, and great facility thereby afforded to counterfeit, forgery and debasement. The true coin was so diminished as to weigh less than half its legal weight; and the debasement of forgers reduced the value of the general mass of coins in circulation to a still greater degree. The injury to the country present and prospective from such a state of its coins was so excessive and so increasing as to call for decisive measures. Laws therefore were enacted for the prevention of clipping and forgery, for the absolute prohibition to the circulation of all clipped money, and the issue of a new coinage to replace the old, worn, and light money. A tax was laid upon dwelling houses to raise the sum of 1,200,000. to supply the deficiencies of the clipped money; and, for the speedy striking so large a sum of new money as would be necessary for circulation of the whole kingdom, new mints were established at Bristol, Chester, Exeter, Norwich and York, and the coins struck at these places are marked respectively with a B, C, E, N, y or Y, under the king's bust. Why York adopted letters of two different characters has not been explained. The act for carrying into effect the provisions for the new coinage was passed March 25, 1696, and was to continue in force for seven years; the new coinage was however nearly completed in two years, as the pieces issued from the provincial mints bear the dates only of 1696 and 1697. Large sums however continued to be coined at the Tower for about two years more, and in 1699, upon the making up of the accounts, it appeared that there had been coined of silver money,

At the Tower   5,091,121.. 7..7
In the Country  1,791,787..12..0
                6,882,908..19..7
The charges and losses upon which are supposed to have been not less than 2,700,000.

Besides the letters under the bust which indicate the country mints, there are other marks or symbols upon some of the coins of William,--Roses intimating that the silver was derived from the West of England; Plumes, from Wales, and the Elephant and Castle from the African Company. The rose occurs only on shillings and sixpences, and according to Thoresby few only were struck, "each shilling standing the proprietor in five groats (as is commonly reported)." Roses had been employed for the same purpose in the coins of Charles II., but only under the bust of the king; feathers had also been employed in the same reign in the centre of the reverse; in this reign they were both placed in the angles between the shields.

Crowns: Bust of William to the right, long hair, laureate, armour and mantle; the upper line of the breast-plate curved, GVLIELMVS III DEI GRA. Rev. Arms crosswise in four shields, Nassau in the centre; the legend consists of the titles and date; of these we have 1695, SEPTIMO sold at Dimsdale's sale for 1..18. MB. 1695. OCTAVO. MB. 1696. OCTAVO. Rud. xxxvi. 1. MB. In the latter part of this year the bust was slightly altered, it is distinguished easily from the other in having the upper line of the breast-plate straight; of these we have 1696. OCTAVO. Sn. xvii. 38. 1697. NONO. 1700. DVO-DECIMO. MB. 1700. DECIMO TERTIO.

There are two other crowns of this king which are extremely rare, and differ very much from the others in the representation of the king's bust; upon the whole we are disposed to consider them as patterns, and that they were not adopted as current coin, though there are shillings and sixpences resembling them in style, for these are almost as rare as the crowns. These pieces are easily distinguishable from the ordinary currency by the profusion of hair, which is brought entirely across the breast in two distinct ringlets; the breast and shoulders entirely covered with a mantle without any appearance of armour; both these pieces are date 1696. They differ from each other chiefly in the workmanship, one being more delicately finished than the other, and having the hair in smaller more numerous curls, and the nose more aquiline. Both these varieties are in the collection of Mr. Cuff, who has also another rare variety dated 1697.

Half-Crowns: The busts upon these pieces are all very nearly the same, resembling that upon the later crowns, having the line of the breast-plate straight. The reverse and legends are the same as upon the crowns, but, upon some of the year 1696, the shields are smaller than upon others. We have of them the following dates--1696. OCTAVO. small shields. Rud. xxxvi. 2. MB. 1697. NONO. large shields; some of these have the harp and lions larger than the others. MB. 1698. DECIMO. shields large, square, of which form they continue to the end of the reign. MB. 1699. UNDECIMO. MB. 1700. DVODECIMO. MB. 1700. DECIMO TERTIO. 1701. DECIMO TERTIO. MB. 1701. DECIMO TERTIO. plume in each angle. Rud. xxxvi. 27. MB. very rare. Henderson's sold for 3..4. Brockett's, 3..15. Willet's, 2. 1701. DECIMO TERTIO. Elephant and castle under the bust. Rud. xxxvi. 26. Sn. xvii. 31. MB. very rare. Willet's sold for 1..14., and was a very poor specimen. With the letter B for Bristol under the bust, we have 1696. OCTAVO. small shields; also with large shields. Rud. xxxvi. 9. MB. 1697. NONO. MB. With C for Chester; 1696. OCTAVO small shields; with large shields. Rud. xxxvi. 10. MB. 1697. NONO. MB. With E. for Exeter; 1696. OCTAVO. large shields. Rud. xxxvi. 11. MB. 1697. NONO. MB. With N for Norwich; 1696. OCTAVO. small shields. Rud. xxxvi. 12. MB. 1697. NONO. MB. With y for York; 1696. OCTAVO. small shields. MB. large shields, 1697. NONO. Rud. xxxvi. 13. MB. With Y for York; 1696. OCTAVO. large shields. There was probably some reason for using two forms of letter upon the York monies, but it has never been explained.

Shillings: These pieces have a general resemblance in type, legends, &c. with the crowns and half- crowns; towards the close of 1698 an alteration was made in the appearance of the portrait, and in 1699 another alteration which continued to the close of the reign, an especial variety or two being probably only patterns. The shields vary in size, and peculiar symbols appear upon some of the pieces.

Ordinary head, plain reverse, small shields. 1695. Rud. xxxvi. 3. MB. If the tye behind the head is scarcely visible upon some pieces, it arises from the die having been too polished. 1696. MB. 1697. MB. Upon some of this last date the bust varies very slightly, the cheek being a little rounder, the hair finer. 1698. MB. Same type with B under the bust. 1696. MB. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 14. MB. C. 1696. MB. C. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 15. MB. In some pieces the lions in the armorial shield are smaller than in others. The bust of 1696 differs very slightly from that of 1697, and upon some of these pieces these heads are transposed. These remarks certainly apply to the Chester coins, and probably to the others; but the differences are so slight as to escape observation, and indeed are scarcely worth noticing. E. 1696. MB. E. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 16. MB. In some of 1697 the shield is larger. N. 1696. MB. N. 1697. In some the shield is larger. Rud. xxxvi. 17. MB. y. 1696. MB. y. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 18. MB. Y. 1696. MB. Y. 1697. CUFF. Similar head; plumes on rev. in the angles. 1698. MB. Towards the close of the year 1698 an alteration took place in the bust of the king, the work was not so highly finished, the features were more strongly marked, the nose more aquiline, the hair thrown into bolder masses, and raised abruptly and high above the forehead like flames. Shields small; of this there are, 1698. CUFF. 1699. MB. this also occurs with large shields. This was followed by a bust in which all these peculiarities were softened down, the features less harsh, the hair less bold and more delicately finished, and less high and flame-like at the top of the head, dates 1698, large shield. CUFF. 1699. Small shield. 1700. Small shield. MB. 1701. Rud. xxxvi. 28. MB. To this bust is attached the rev. having roses in the angles. 1699. Rud. xxxvi. 25. MB. with plumes in the angles. 1699. MB. 1700. MB. With feathers under the bust. 1700. Sn. xvii. 23. MB. In 1699 a shilling was struck very different from any of the preceding, in very high relief.

Sixpences: The busts upon these pieces are nearly all alike, but those of the latter part of the year 1697 and the subsequent years are a very little broader, and of neater workmanship. Mr. Cuff has one with the larger head dated 1696, but it is probably an accidental use of the old reverse with the new obverse. Of the earlier head we have 1695. Rud. xxxvi. 4. MB. 1696. MB. 1697. MB. and of the same head are the provincial pieces. B. 1696. MB. B. 1697. Rud. xxxvi 19. MB. C. 1696. MB. C. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 20. MB. E. 1696. MB. E. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 21. MB. N. 1696. MB. N. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 22. MB. y. 1696. MB. y. 1697. MB. Y. 1696. CUFF. Y. 1697. Rud. xxxvi. 23. MB. Of the later head we have 1697. 1698. MB. 1699. CUFF. 1700. MB. 1701. MB. With plumes in the angles. 1698. MB. 1699. Rud. xxxvi. 29. MB. Rose in the angles. 1699. Rud. xxxvi. 24. MB. C. 1697. CUFF. E. 1697. CUFF. Y. 1697. MB. With plumes under the bust, 1700. Sn. xvii. 16. CUFF.. There are also sixpences with a very different bust; one, 1696, the nose more aquiline, hair dressed higher in front, hair brought forward upon the shoulders in two large ringlets, like the crown. Another, 1696, very similar to the preceding. These two resemble closely the two crowns described as in the collection of Mr. Cuff. There is a sixpence of 1697 y which, by a strange blunder, has Ireland in the upper shield, Scotland below, France at the right, England at the left.

Groats: Bust like the sixpence; Rev. The figure 4 crowned, with titles and dates 1698, 1699, 1700, 1701, 1702, Rud. xxxvi. 5. all in MB. The date 1702 does not occur upon any other coin of William III., and incorrectly upon this; for the year commenced with 25 Mar., and William died on the 8th of that month.

Three-Pences, Half-Groats, and Pence, all like groats, and dated 1698, 1699, 1700 and 1701, all in MB. Rud. xxxvi. 6, 7, 8. There are two different three-pences of the date 1701, one of which has the letters smaller than the others.

William and Mary | Table of Contents | William III, Table of Types


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