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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
Edward VI (1546-1553)

Table of Contents

EDWARD VI, 1546 TO 1553.

Edward VI came to the throne on the 28th of January, 1546-7, and although he only reigned six and a half years, no fewer than four distinct series of gold coins were issued during his reign. By the indentures of his first year made with the masters of the mints of Southwark, Canterbury, and the Tower, the money was to remain of the same weight and fineness as the last coinage of his father, in his 37th year. The Bristol mint also continued to be worked at this time, but perhaps only silver money was issued from it, for in the conviction of Sir W. Sharington, the master of the mint, in 1548, for having there in the first year of the king counterfeited £12,000 of coins resembling the Testoons (shillings), no mention is made of gold coins. Nor do we know of any gold coins having been issued at this time from the Southwark or Canterbury mints. Sharington’s crime was that he coined money for the use of Lord Seymour, the Lord High Admiral. He confessed it, and was pardoned. His counterfeit coins are not known.

No sovereigns of the first coinage are believed to exist.

HALF-SOVEREIGNS. Value 10s. Weight 96 grs. Fineness 20 cts. Type like the latest half-sovereigns of Henry VIII. The king in robes, with crown with a single arch, seated on throne with plain round back which reaches up to his head, the sides of the back fluted, the figure of an angel on each arm of the throne, the king’s hands resting on his knees, sceptre in his right hand, orb in his left, rose under his feet. Rev, plain square shield bearing the arms of France and England quarterly, supported by lion and dragon, the former crowned, a crown above the shield with one ornamented arch surmounted by orb and cross. Under the shield a tablet which is inscribed HR, showing that the reverse dies for these coins were made under Henry VIII. 1. MM E. EDWARD. 6 D G AG FRAN Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PERMEDI ILLOR IBAT. E under shield. Mascle after every word except Ag, two after Edward, three after Rex. (68) MB. Wt. 95.9 grs. 2. Same but AVTE TRANSIE. E under shield. No mascle after Ihs or Ibat. MB. 3. As No. 1 but rev, legend as 2, no letter under shield, mascle before rev. MM and after Per. MB. 4. MM arrow. Large cross above king’s crown. Legends as 2. Mascle after Edward and every word on rev., two after every other word on obv. MB. Wt. 86.3 grs. See Rud. vii. 3, which, however, has the tablet inscribed ER, and reads MED for Medi.

CROWN. Value 5s. Weight 48 grs. Fineness 20 cts. Type like those of Henry VIII. Obv. rose crowned, between E and R each crowned. Rev, shield with arms, crowned, between letters crowned. 1. MM obv. arrow, rev. annulet enclosing pellet. RVTILANS ROSA SINE SPINE. Rev. DEI GRA AGL FRA Z HIB REX. h and R, each crowned, on each side of the shield. Two mascles after each word on obv., seven after spine. (69) MB. Wt. 46 grs. The obverse and reverse are transposed in the plate. 2. Obv. from the same die as the last. Rev. MM arrow. EDWARD 6 D G AG FR Z HIB REX. E and R, each crowned, on each side of the shield. Mascle after Rex, two after every other word. Wt. 48 grs. These two coins are believed to be unique. Both belonged to Capt. Murchison, and are described by him in Num. Chron., xx. 187. The former is in bad condition, and it is not quite as clear on the coin as it is represented in the plate whether the distinguishing letter at the side of the rose on the obverse is an E or an h, while it is clear that that on the reverse is an h, and that the reverse die therefore was engraved under Henry VIII; but Capt. Murchison expressly states that the obverses of the two coins are from the same die, and when they appeared at his sale in 1864 it is evident that no doubt was entertained of their both belonging to Edward VI, as the former was bought for £50 for the British Museum, and the latter (which we have not seen) fetched as much as £83.

HALF-CROWNS Value 2s 6d. Weight 24 grs. Fineness 20 cts. Type like the crowns, but the crown over the rose on obv. is much smaller, and the letters E and R which are on each side of the rose on obv. and of the shield on rev, are not crowned. MM arrow. RVTILANS ROSA SINE SPINE. Rev. EDWARD 6 D G AG FR Z HI REX. Rud. vii. 13. MB. Wt. 22 grs. Ext. rare.

SECOND COINAGE. On the 24th Jan., 1548, it was declared by proclamation that the king had caused new coins of gold and silver to be made at the same values as the last issue. In this proclamation no mention is made of an improvement in the standard, and it may therefore refer only to a new issue of coins identical with those already in circulation. Several patterns for coins of various types were however made in and about this year. (See Rud. vii. 7, 11, 12, 14; viii. 3; Num. Chron. xx. 188.) And by an indenture of the year 1549 the fineness of the coins was some what improved by being restored to that established in 1544, though at the same time they were considerably reduced in weight. The lb. of gold of 22 cts. fine and 2 cts. alloy was now to be coined into £34 by tale, into sovereigns at 20s a piece, and crowns at 5s, with their halves. In the same year the French Crowns of the Sun, which had been made current by Henry VIII at 4s 6d, were on the 1st Aug. raised to 7s,and on the 1st Dec. reduced to 6s 4d. The pieces which remain to us of this coinage are as follows:-

TREBLE SOVEREIGN. Value £3. Weight 508 4/17 grs. Fineness 22 cts. SOUTHWARK Type like the last half-sovereigns, except that the king has no robes, and holds a sword instead of a sceptre in his right hand. The back of the throne is chequered, and there is no rose under the king’s feet. There are scroll ornaments round the tablet under the shield on the reverse, which is inscribed ER. MM on both sides y, for Sir John Yorke, master of the mint at Southwark. Legends EDWARD VI DEI GRA AGL FRAN ET HIBER REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PERMEDI ILLOR IBAT. Rud. vii. 1. MB. Wt. 505 grs. It is probable that this is only a pattern, as there is no reason to suppose that coins of this denomination were made current in this reign.

SOVEREIGN. Value £1. Weight 169 7/17 grs. Fineness 22 cts. LONDON. Same as the £3 piece but MM arrow, which seems to be the mark of Sir Martin Bowes, master of the mint in the Tower of London from the 18th year of Henry VIII, and in the first year of Edward VI. It does not clearly appear when he ceased to hold that office, but it was probably about the third year of Edward VI, when we find some other persons named as Commissioners for performing its duties. The arrow appears to have been adopted by him in reference to his own name. Legends as £3 piece but HIB, MEDIVM. MB. Wt. 168.2 grs. Or with no MM on obv., FRANCI ET HIB, PER MEDIV ILLORV. (70) MB. Wt. 167½ grs. MB. Wt. 171.3 grs. Or with the back of the throne raised higher than the king’s head, EDWARD VI D G AGL FRAN ET HIB REX, cinquefoil after Rex. Otherwise as the £3 piece. Rud. vii. 2. MB. Wt. 169 grs.

HALF-SOVEREIGN. Value 10s. Weight 84 12/17 grs. Fineness 22 cts. LONDON. 1. Obv. Bust in profile to right, uncrowned, young face, very short hair, plain armour. MM arrow. SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEGET EVM. Rose after each word. Rev. Oval shield crowned and garnished, between E R. MM arrow. EDWARD VI D G AGL FRA Z HIB REX. Diamond-shaped stops between the words. MB. Wt. 83.2 grs. 2. Same, but MM the figure 6. MB. (71) This MM has sometimes been called a bow. 3. Same as 1, but the king’s head crowned and the legends transposed. MB. Wt. 82.8 grs. 4. Same as 3, but the king’s crown is larger, cinquefoils rather than roses after each word on rev., one before Scutum. MB. Wt., though in fair preservation, only 76.7 grs. 5. As 3, but MM swan, perhaps in reference to the armorial bearings of Sir M. Bowes, slight drapery over armour on breast, cinquefoils rather than roses between the words on rev., none after Eum. MB. Wt. 82.9 grs. 6. As 3, but MM grappling iron, slight drapery as on the last coin, rose after each word on both sides. MB. Wt. 79.7 grs. It does not appear what this MM refers to, but it occurs also on one of the latest half-sovereigns of Henry VIII with the young portrait. 7. Same as 3, but with MM martlet on both sides, and dots between the words. EVANS. Wt. 83 grs.

SOUTHWARK. Same as London No. 1 but MM Y, for Sir John Yorke. MB. Wt. 81 grs. Or with no rose after Eum, Rud. vii. 8. MB. Wt. 81.2 grs. Or with head crowned, as London No. 3, with rose before Scutum and after every word on rev. MB. Rud. vii. 4, where the rose after Eum is omitted.

CROWNS. Value 5s. Weight 42 6/17 grs. Fineness 22 cts. LONDON. With uncrowned head, same as No. 1 half-sovereign of this coinage, but MM arrow on obv. only, FR for Fra, diamond-shaped stops on both sides, no roses. MB. Wt. 39.7 grs. Or with crowned head, same as No. 3 half-sovereign of this coinage, rose after Scutum and Fidei only. (72) MB. Wt. 41½ grs.

SOUTHWARK. With uncrowned head, same as the London crown but MM Y. Rud. vii. 9. Or reading FRA. MB. Wt. 41½ grs. With crowned head, same as No. 3 half-sovereign of this coinage, but MM Y, PROTEG for Proteget, diamond-shaped stops both sides, no roses. Rud. vii. 5. MB. Wt. 40.8 grs. Or with MM Y on obv. only, omitting ER, and reading PROTEGET. THORBURN. Or with rev. MM y, legend SCVTV FIDEI PROTEGET EVM. Bose after Scutu. MB. Wt. 41.9 grs.

HALF-CROWNS. Value 2s 6d. Weight 21 3/17 grs. Fineness 22 cts. LONDON. Bust with uncrowned head, as No. 1 half-sovereign of this coinage, MM arrow, SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEGET EVM. Rev, as same but omitting ER at sides of shield, no MM, EDWAR VI D G AGL FR Z H R. Diamond-shaped stops on both sides. Rud. vii. 10. MB. Wt. 20.3 grs. With crowned head, MM arrow, EDWARD VI D G AG FR Z HI REX. Rev, as last but SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEGET EVM. Stops as last. MB. Wt. 20.7 grs., or reading PROTE. Rud. vii. 6. Or with MM grappling iron, obv. legend SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEG EVM. Rev. EDWARD VI D G AG FR Z H REX. MB. Wt. 20.7 grs.

SOUTHWARK. With uncrowned head, same as London but MM Y; PROTEGE, AG, RE. MB. Wt. 20.1 grs. Or with crowned head, MM Y, EDWARD VI D G A F Z H REX. Rev. SCVTVM FIDEI PROTE EVM. Very large letters, diamond-shaped stops. (73) MB. Wt. 21½ grs., or reading HI, and PROTEG: EV: THORBURN.

THIRD COINAGE. In the year 1550 the old standard of gold, namely 23 cts. 3½ grs. fine gold to ½gr. alloy, which had always been used from the first coinage of Edward III down to the year 1544, was restored, by commission directed to Sir Edmund Peckham, Sir John Yorke, and others. The pound weight of this gold was to be coined into £28. 16s by tale, and the coins to be struck were sovereigns of the value of 24s each, and angels at 8s each, with their respective halves. It would seem, however, that this restoration of the old standard and weight of the coins, notwithstanding the increase in their nominal value, was a greater strain than the Treasury could well bear, and extremely few coins of this description were struck, or at all events have come down to us. The mint-mark upon all of them is a bird’s head. The first commissioner of the mint at this time was Sir Edmund Peckham, Knt., who was the High Treasurer of the mint from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Elizabeth; and as the crest of the Peckhams of Nyton in Sussex is an ostrich, it is probable that Sir E. Peckham may have belonged to the same family, and that the mint-mark on these coins may be derived from his crest

DOUBLE SOVEREIGN. Value 48s. Weight 480 grs. Standard fineness. Obv. king seated, holding sceptre and globe, in robes, with crown with a single arch, back of the throne chequered, with jewelled sides. At each side of the throne is a column supporting an ornamental cross, as on Henry VIII’s sovereigns. The legs and seat of the throne are hidden by the king’s robes. Under his feet is a portcullis, and round the field, within the inner circle, is a tressure with a trefoil at each angle and a dot in each arch. MM ostrich head. EDWARD x VI x D x G x ANGLIE FRANCIE : Z : HIBERN : REX x Rev, shield with arms as usual upon a large double rose, within a double tressure of ten arches, two small crosses in each spandril, all within an inner circle. MM ostrich head. IHESV x AVTEM : TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORVM : IBAT MB. 475 grs. Or reading HIBERNIE. Rud. viii. 1. 504 grs. It does not appear that coins of this denomination were issued for general circulation, and the difference between the weights of these two coins makes it probable that they were both intended only for patterns.

SOVEREIGN. Value 24s. Weight 240 grs. Standard fineness. Exactly the same as the double sovereign reading HIBERNIE with two saltires after Rex and Ibat. (74) Rud. viii. 2. MB. 237.3 grs.

HALF-SOVEREIGNS of this coinage are not known.

ANGEL. Value 8s. Weight 80 grs. Standard fineness. Type similar to the angels of Henry VIII. MM on both sides ostrich head. EDWARD x VI : D : G : AGL : FRA : Z x HIB : REX x. Rev. PER : CRVCE x TVAM : SALVA : NOS : XPE x RED :. to left of cross, rose to right. (75) Rud. viii. 4. MB. Wt. 81.4 grs. Or FR x, REDE :. EVANS. One sold in 1865 is said to have MM sun on both sides, but this is probably a mistake. It brought £32. Num. Chron., N. S., v. 320.

ANGELET. Value 4s. Weight 40 grs. Standard fineness. Same as the angel, but reading A F Z HI REX. Rev. PER CRV TVA SALVA NOS XPE. Rud. viii 5. Ext. rare. FOURTH COINAGE. This was issued by virtue of an indenture of the year 1552, by which coins of two different standards of fineness were to be struck, namely, sovereigns, angels, and angelets, of the old standard, and sovereigns, half-sovereigns, crowns, and half-crowns, of the metal which is called crown gold, as having been first used for the crowns and half-crowns when they were introduced in 1526, namely, 22 cts. fine, and 2 cts. alloy. The coins of the old standard were to be made of the same weight as before, but their nominal value was raised, as sovereigns were to be current for 30s, angels for 10s, and half-angels for 5s. If, however any coins of this standard were made by virtue of this indenture, they must have been of the same type as those of the last coinage, and have borne the same mint-mark, and are, therefore, undistinguishable from them. A pound weight of crown gold was to be made into thirty-three sovereigns at 20s a piece, or 132 crowns, with their respective halves. The coins of this metal were the following :—

SOVEREIGN. Value 20s. Weight 174 6/11 grs. Fineness 22 cts. Obv. Three-quarter length of king in profile to right, crowned, in figured armour, sword in right hand, orb in left. The crown has two arches, and is surmounted by a cross. Rev, same as sovereign of second coinage.

LONDON. MM ton, from the last syllable of the name of Throgmorton, master of the mint in the Tower. EDWARD VI D G AGL FRA Z HIBER REX. Rev. IHS AVTE TRANCI PER MEDIV ILLOR IBAT. Rud. viii. 6. MB. Or IHS AVTEM TRANSIE PERMEDI ILLORV IBAT. MB.

SOUTHWARK. MM y for Sir John Yorke. Same as London but FRAN Z HIB. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANCI PERMEDI ILLOR IBAT. (76) MB.

HALF-SOVEREIGN. Value 10s. Weight 87 3/11 grs. Fineness 22 cts. Obv. type as sovereign. Rev, square shield crowned between E R.

LONDON. MM ton. EDWARD VI D G AGL FRA Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIE PER MEDI ILLO IBAT. Diamond-shaped stops on each side. Interior of crown on rev, frosted. MB. Or ILLOR. EVANS. Or HIBER, TRANCI, ILLOR. Rud. viii. 7. MB. Or with the crown not frosted, FRANCI, HIB, TRANSIENS, ILLOR. MB.

SOUTHWARK. MM y. Same as the first of London, but rev. crown not frosted, IHS AVTE TRANCI PERMED ILLO IBA. MB.

CROWN. Value 5s. Weight 43 7/11 grs. Fineness 22 cts. Same as the London half-sovereign, MM ton, with the crown not frosted, but reading FRA, and rev, legend SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEGET EVM. (77) Rud. viii. 8. MB.

HALF-CROWN. Value 2s 6d. Weight 21 9/11 grs. Fineness 22 cts. Same as crown, but legends EDWARD VI D G A FR Z HIB REX. Rev. SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEG EVM. Rud. viii. 9. MB.

Edward VI’s gold coins are all rare. Only two crowns of the first coinage are known, and the half-crown is extremely rare. A sovereign of the third coinage, “presumed to be the finest known,” was sold at Captain Murchison’s sale, in 1864, for £90; but Mr. Forster’s, in 1868, only realized £21. 5s. Angels have sold for from £21. 10s to £41. 10s; and a half-crown of the last coinage, at Captain Murchison’s sale, brought £12. 5s.

The only mints which appear to have been used for gold coins in this reign are those of the Tower and of Southwark, the coins of the latter place being distinguishable by bearing the MM Y or y, the initial of the master of the mint in that place, Sir John Yorke.

TABLE OF MINT MARKS.
3 Sovs. 2 Sovs. Sov ½ Sov Angel Crown Angelet ½ Crown
1ST COINAGE, 1547.
E, E under shield +
E, E under shield +
E +
Arrow, rev. annulet enclosing pellet +
Arrow + NC +
2ND COINAGE, 1549.
Arrow + + +
Arrow roses in legend + +
6, roses in legend +
Swan, cinquefoils in legend +
Grappling iron +
Grappling iron, roses in legend +
Martlet Evans
y + +
y, cinquefoil on obv. +
Y + +
Y, roses in legend +
Y, rev. y, rose in legend +
3RD COINAGE, 1550.
Ostrich head + + + Rud.
4TH COINAGE, 1552.
Ton + + + +
y + +
N.C.—The authority for this is Capt. Murchison in Num. Chr. xx. 187.

Henry VIII (1509-1546) | Table of Contents | Mary (1553-1558)


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