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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
Henry VIII (1509-1546)

Table of Contents

HENRY VIII, 1509 TO 1546.

The gold coinage of Henry VIII may be divided into five classes, differing from each other in various particulars of type, weight, and fineness of metal. The first class began at the beginning of his reign; the second in his 18th year, 1526; the third in his 35th year, 1543; the fourth in his 36th year, 1544; and the fifth in his 37th year, 1545.

FIRST COINAGE. This was made by virtue of an indenture with Lord Mountjoy in the first year of the reign, and was similar in all respects to that of Henry VII, consisting of sovereigns, ryals, angels, and angelets, of the standard fineness, viz., 23 cts. 3½ grs. fine gold to ½ gr. of alloy. A few double sovereigns also exist, but were probably patterns never issued for circulation. The king’s titles are King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland.

DOUBLE SOVEREIGN. Probably a pattern. Obv. the king crowned and robed, with long locks, beardless, holding sceptre and globe, seated on a high throne with straight back ornamented with chequers. At the end of each arm is a pillar surmounted by a cross with an ornamental base. Under the king’s feet, and dividing the inner circle and the legend, is a portcullis (the well-known badge of the Tudor family), to which is attached a chain ornamented with lis, which surrounds the field. MM lis. Legend HENRICVS : DEI : GRACIA : REX ANGLIE : ET x FRANC x DNS x HIB x Rev, plain shield bearing the arms of France and England, upon a large double rose, within an ornamented tressure of ten arches, within the inner circle. MM cross-crosslet. IHESVS : AVTEM : TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORVM : IBAT Rud. v. 1. Weight 480 grs. A specimen weighing 788.6 grs. is in the British Museum. Another, weighing 476 grs., was sold at Mr. Dimsdale’s sale for £40, and at Mr. Thomas’s, in 1844, for £30.

SOVEREIGN. Value 20s. Weight 240 grs. 1. Exactly like the double sovereign. MB. 2. Same but MM portcullis crowned, and reading TRANCIENS; a plain double tressure of ten arches, the inner one beaded, round the rose on a lion and lis alternately in each arch, two small crosses in each spandril; two saltires after Et and Dns, none after Ibat. (54) MB. Both the portcullis and cross-crosslet mint marks occur on Henry VII’s coins, and the former also on the early silver ones of Henry VIII. For this reason we attribute these sovereigns, as well as the double sovereign, to this period; and we give them to Henry VIII, because they resemble his other sovereigns more than those of his father, because we have no other sovereigns to attribute to this coinage, and because the portcullis under the king’s feet is common on the coins of Henry VIII, but unknown on those of his father. Very rare.

RYAL. Value 10s. Weight 120 grs. Obv. king standing, with sword and shield, in a ship, the mast to his right, at right angles to which stretches a yard-arm immediately over his head, three ropes from it to stern, one from mast to prow. A bowsprit extends from the prow to the edge of the coin. The upper part of the side of the ship is ornamented with lions and lis, on the centre of it is a rose, at the stern a banner with the letter h. Legend HENRIC x VIII x DI x GRA x REX x ANGL x Z x FRANC DNS x I x B. Rev. Same type as Edward IV’s ryals, MM portcuflis crowned, legend IHC x AVT x TRANSIENS : PER MEDIVM : ILLORVM : IBAT. (55) MB. Ext. rare.

Henry VIII had not the same objection to tracing his title to the throne through his mother, a daughter of Edward IV, as Henry VII had to being thought to depend for a title on his wife, and consequently the son placed the badge of Edward IV, the rose and sun, upon his coins although the father would not. The portcullis MM shows that this coin must belong to this period of his reign.

ANGELS. Value 6s 8d. Weight 80 grs. Type as the second coinage of Henry VII. One coin, however, omits the rose to the right of the cross on the reverse. 1. MM portcullis crowned. HENRIC x VIII x DI x GRA x REX x AGL x Z x FR. x Rev. PER x CRVCE x TVA x SALVA x NOS x XPE x REDET. MB. 2. Same, but omitting the rose at the side of the cross on the reverse, two saltires after Fr, Per, and Cruce. Rud. v. 5. MB. 3. Same as 1, but REDE, two saltires after Fr. MB. 4. Same as the last, with small annulet also after Fr. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 187. 5. Same as 1, but FRA, REDE, two saltires after Fra, one before obv. MM, and after Rede. Rud. v. 6. MB. 6. As 1, but F, REDE. MB. This specimen is countermarked with the arms of Zealand. 7. As 1, but RED, two saitires after Fr. MB. 8. As 1, but FRA, RED, saltire before MM on obv. MB. 9. Same as last, with saltire also after Red. MB. 10. MM castle. Legends as 1, saltire between every word, two after Rex, Fr, Per, and Nos. MB. 11. Same, but REDE, only one saltire after Rex, four after Fr, two after Cruce. MB. 12. As last, with only two saltires after Fr, one after Salva, two between all the other words on rev. MB. 13. As 10, but FRA, REDE, saltire between every word, two after Z and Fra. MB. 14. Same as last, with two saltires also after Gra, Rex, Per, and Nos, one after Rede. MB. 15. As 10, but FRA RED, saltire after every word. MB. 16. As 10, but F, REDE, two saltires after F, Per, Nos, and XPE, one after every other word. MB. 17. As 10, but ANGL Z F, RED, saltire between each word, two after F and the first five words on rev. MB. 18. As 10, but REDE, annulet after Fr, two after Henric, saltire after every other word on obv. and after Salva, two after Fr and between the other words on rev. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 187. 19. Same, but F, RED, saltire after Red. lb.

These two mint-marks, the portcullis and the castle, both occur on the silver coins of the first coinage, before 1526.

ANGELETS. Value 3s 4d. Weight 40 grs. Same type as the angels. 1. MM portcullis crowned. HENRIC x VIII x DI x GRA x REX x AL Z. Rev. O : CRVX : AVE : SPES : VNICA. MB. 2. MM castle. As 1, but REX x AN, omitting Z, only one saltire after 0, two after Unica. Rud. v.7. 3. MM castle, HENRIC DI GRA REX AGL Z. Saltire after every word on obv. Rev, as 1, two saltires after Unica. (56) MB.

SECOND COINAGE, 1526 to 1543. In the years 1522 and 1525, in consequence, it must be presumed, of the insufficiency of the English coinage, several foreign coins both of gold and silver were proclaimed current in England at certain declared values, and it was made penal to refuse them. The gold coins so made current in 1522 were “every ducat large of gold” at 4s 6d, and “every crown of gold not soleil (i.e. not being a French crown of the sun) nor clipped” at 4s; and in 1525 were added “every crown soleil, of weight, 4s 4d; and other crowns named Porpynes, and all other crowns being of like fineness, of weight, as the crowns of the sun be, at 4s 4d sterling; every piece of fine gold named a Carolus, keeping weight, at 6s 10d; every piece of base gold, named a florin, keeping weight, at 3s 3d; every piece of base gold of less quantity, named also a florin, keeping weight, at 2s 1d.” Notwithstanding these proclamations it appears that the amount of gold coin in the kingdom was still insufficient for its wants; and on the 24th July, 1526, a writ was issued to Wolsey, then Lord Chancellor, commanding him to make such alterations in the king’s money as might reduce it to an equality with that of foreign countries. The reason of this reduction was stated, in a proclamation of August 22nd, to be that, notwithstanding the law to the contrary, gold was continually transported by the merchants to Flanders and France because it was rated at a higher value there than here. By this proclamation it was ordered that thenceforth the sovereign should be current for 22s, the Ryal for 11s, the noble (angel) for 7s 4d, and the fortypenny-piece (angelet) for 3s 8d; and a new coin, to be called the “Crown of the Rose,” introduced in imitation of the French “Crown of the Sun,” and of the same fineness and value, was made current for 4s 6d, to which rating the crown soleil itself was raised. The “single ducat large” of fine gold and due weight was also raised to 4s 8d, and the double ducat in proportion. These values, however, did not last long, for it was found that the exportation of coin rather increased than diminished, and, as it was thought that this exportation would be stopped by a further increase in the nominal value of the coins, another proclamation was issued on the 5th of November, 1526, by which the sovereign was made current for 22s 6d; the ryal for 11s 3d, and the half and quarter in proportion; the angel noble for 7s 6d, and the half angel for 3s 9d. Besides the angel noble, there was also ordered to be made another noble, to be called the George noble, which was to be current for 6s 8d, and a half George noble in proportion; and whereas the “Crown of the Sun,” not being an aliquot part of a pound, was inconvenient for calculation, another crown, called the “Crown of the Double Rose,” was to be made which should be current for 5s; and its half for 2s 6d. No alteration was made in the values of the Crowns of the Sun and others of the same weight and fineness, but all other foreign gold coin was to cease to be current except as the payer and receiver should agree. By the same proclamation the Tower pound, consisting of 5400 grs., which had always hitherto been used in all Mint calculations, was abolished, and the pound troy, of 5760 grs., substituted for it.

The weight, fineness, and type, therefore, of the gold coins hitherto in use, namely, the sovereign, ryal, angel, and angelet, were to remain as they had been before 1526, the only alteration being that the nominal value of every coin was increased. Of the new coins, the George noble and half noble were to correspond in weight and fineness with the old coins; but the crowns and half-crowns, in order that they might the more nearly resemble the French “crowns of the sun,” were to be made of gold of 22 cts. fine only and are the first instance of a gold coin of less than standard fineness in England. The “Crown of the Rose,” mentioned in the proclamation of the 22nd August; is not known and was probably never struck, otherwise its name would have occurred in the proclamation of the 5th of November, which declares “Crowns of the Sun,” which were of exactly the same value, inconvenient pieces. A double sovereign, apparently of this period, is in the British Museum, but it is believed to be unique, and is probably only a pattern. No ryals or angelets of this period are known, nor any half George nobles, and it is very possible that none were ever struck. Although the weight, fineness, and type of the old denominations of coins remained exactly the same after 1526 as before, yet we are enabled by two principal circumstances to distinguish with some certainty between the coins of the two periods. First, the mint-marks on the gold coins are much the same as those on the silver; and as the silver coins were in 1526 both reduced in weight and altered in type, there is no difficulty in distinguishing between the earlier and later mint-marks of that series. And secondly, some of the crowns, half-crowns, and George nobles have the initial besides that of the king, of Queens Katherine, Anne, and Jane, and the mint-marks which occur upon those pieces are thereby fixed to the dates of those queens.

The king’s marriage with Katherine, who was the widow of his brother Arthur, was celebrated in 1509, and was formally decreed by Cranmer to be void in 1533, shortly after the king had publicly avowed his marriage with Anne Boleyn, which had taken place in November, 1532. Queen Anne was beheaded on the 19th of May, 1536, and on the next day the king married Jane Seymour. Jane gave birth to Edward VI on Oct. 12th, 1537, and died two days afterwards. In Jan. 1540 the king married, and in July he divorced, Anne of Cleves; on the 8th of August in the same year he married Katherine Howard, who was attainted and beheaded in January, 1541-2; and on the 12th July, 1543, he married Katherine Parr, Lady Latimer.

In 1540 Henry assumed the title of King of Ireland, which was conferred upon him by an Irish statute of that year; but it was not ratified by the English Parliament till 1543, and does not seem to have been adopted on the English coins until that year.

DOUBLE SOVEREIGN. Pattern. Exactly like that of the first issue, but MM obv. lis, rev. pheon. Four saltires after Ibat. Wt. 470.1 grs. Unique? This was bought by the British Museum for £100. The same mint-marks occur together on a groat of the second coinage, but the pheon also occurs on a groat of the first coinage, and it is therefore probable this piece was struck not long after 1526.

SOVEREIGNS. Value 22s or 22s 6d. Weight 240 grs. Standard fineness. Type same as before. 1. MM lis. Like (54) but saltire as on the first double sovereign. MB. 2. MM lis, rev, arrow. Same as (54) but reading TRANSIENS, with no crosses in the spandrils on the reverse. MB. 3. Same, but a single ornamented tressure, without lions or lis, on the reverse, as on the double sovereign. Two saltires before Ihesus, one after Ibat. Rud. v. 2. MB. 4. MM sun’s rays from beneath a cloud, Same as No. 2, but with small crosses in the spandrils. MB. All rare.

ANGELS. Value 7s 4d or 7s 6d. Weight 80 grs. Standard fineness. Type same as before. 1. MM pheon. HENRIC : VIII x DI x GRA x REX : AGL x Z x F : Rev. PER x CRVCE x TVA x SALVA x NOS x XPE x RED. (57) MB. 2. MM lis. As 1 but FRA, REDET, one saltire between words on obv., two on rev. MB. 3. MM sun’s rays from beneath a cloud. HENRIC : VIII : D : G : R : AGL x Z : FRA Rev, as last but REDE. MB.

GEORGE NOBLE. Value 6s 8d. Weight 71 1/9 grs. Standard fineness. Obv. ship as on the reverse of the angels, but a double rose instead of a shield above it, under the cross; h to the left of the cross, K, for Queen Katherine of Aragon, to the right. Rev. St. George on horseback, piercing the dragon through the mouth with a very long spear, the butt end of which marks the end of the legend. The horse’s hind feet also pass through the inner circle and divide the legend. The MM is always a rose. 1. HENRIC x DI x GRA x AGL x Z x FRANC x DNS X\x HIBERNI. Rev. TALI : DICA : SIGNO : MES : FLVCTVARI : NEQVIT. Saltire before the MM on rev. (58) MB. 2. HENRIC x D x G x R x AGLIE x Z x FRA x DNS x HIBERIE. Rev. TALI : DICATA : SIG : MES : FLVCTVARI : NEQT. MB. 3. HENRIC : D x G R x AGL x Z x FRANC x DNS HIBERI. Rev, as 1 but SIG° for signo, saltire before Tali. MB. Or HIBER, two saltires between the words, rev, as 2. EVANS. 4. As 3, but HIBER, DICATT SIG°, NEQT; two saltires between each? word. Rud. v. 3. In this plate an R is substituted for K in the field of the obverse. These coins, which are very rare, must have been struck between 1526 when they were first authorized, and 1533 when Queen Katherine of Aragon was divorced; or else in 1541-1542, during the short reign of Queen Katherine Howard. The former, however, is far the more probable, as the rose was an early MM, and it is not likely that the striking of these coins should have been deferred for fifteen years after they were first authorized. Mr. Bergne has pointed out in Num. Chr., N. S., v. 296, that the legend on these nobles is taken from a hymn by Prudentius, written in the latter half of the fourth century, entitled “Hymnus ante somnnm,” in which we are recommended to make the sign of the cross upon our forehead and our heart when we go to bed, because “tali dicata signo mens fluctuare nescit.” The hymn is preserved in a manuscript called the “Liber Benedictionalis,” in the Monastery of St. Gall, and is quoted in No. 84 of The Archaeological Journal.

CROWNS. Value 5s. Weight 57 21/57 grs. 22 cts. fine. Obv. double rose crowned, a letter crowned on each side of it. Rev. Shield of arms crowned. The crowns have a single ornamented arch surmounted by globe and cross. 1. MM rose; h to left, K to right, in the field. HENRIC x VIII x RVTILANS x ROSA : SIE : SPIA. Rev. DEI : G x R x AGLIE x Z x FRANC x DNS x HIBERNI. MB.2. Same, but HIBERNIE, saltire between every word, two after Dei, Aglie, Franc, and Dns. Rud. v. 11. 3. Same as 1, but SINE, AGL, HIBERNIE. One saltire after Henric, R, Dns, and Hibernie, two between the other words. MB. 4. Same as 1, but SINE, HIBERIE, saltire before obv. MM, after Henric and VIII, and each side of Z, two between the other words. MB. 5. Same as last, but HIBERNIE, saltire before obv. MM and between every word, two after Dei and R. The Ns on this coin are of the Roman, not, as on the former ones, of the old English shape. MB. 6. Same as 1, but SINE SPINA, HIBERNIE, one saltire after Rosa and Sine and between each word on obv., two after Rutilans and between each word on rev., Roman Ns. MB. 7. MM lis. H and K crowned at sides of shield on rev, as well as of rose on obv. Legends as 1 but HIBERNIE. One saltire after Rosa, Sie, Z, and Franc, two between the other words. English Ns. MB. 8. Same as last, but SINE : SPINA, Rev. DEI : GRA : R : AGL : Z : FRANCE : DNS : HIBERIE. English Ns on obv., Roman on rev., two saltires between each word. MB. 9. Same as 7, but SINE SPINA, one saltire between words on obv., two on rev. Roman Ns on obv., except in king’s name, English on rev. MB. 10. MM arrow. These all have the English N. Same as 7, but HIBERNI, one saltire after Henric, Franc, and Hiberni, two between the other words. MB. 11. MM arrow. H and A, for Anne Boleyn, crowned, at sides of rose on obv, and shield on rev., legends as 1 but SINE, HIBERNIE. Saltire between every word, two after Rutilans, Rosa, Dei, and Hibernie. (59) MB. See Rud. v. 12, obv. only. The MM here given is a pheon, but this is probably a mistake, as the pheon MM does not seem to have been used as late as Queen Anne’s time. 12. MM arrow, h and K crowned at sides of rose on obv., h and I, for Jane Seymour, crowned at sides of shield on rev., legends as 1 but SPI, HIBERNIE, saltire between every word, two after Dei. This has an obverse of the time of Queen Katherine, before 1533, joined to a reverse of Queen Jane, 1536-7. MB. 13. Same as last but I instead of K at side of rose on obv., legends as 1 but HIBERNIE, saltire between each word. Rud. v. 10. MB. 14. Legends transposed, the king’s name being on the shield side, as on the half-crowns, instead of on the rose side as on the other crowns. MM arrow. H and R (for Rex) crowned at sides of shield on obv. and of rose on rev. Legends HENRIC. D. G. RVTILANS. ROSA. SINE SP Rev. .DEI. GRA. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX. EVANS. This coin must have been struck in 1543, after the English Parliament had (sic) had ratified the title of King of Ireland, although Henry’s marriage with Katherine Parr on the 12th of July in that year had then already taken place, and therefore her initial might have been placed upon the coin.

HALF CROWNS. Value 2s 6d, Weight 28 grs. 22 cts. fine. Obv. like the reverse of the crowns. Rev, like the obverse of the crowns, but the letters at each side of the rose are not crowned. 1. MM rose on obv. only. HENRIC : 8 : DI : G : R: AGL : Z : FRA. Rev. RVTILANS : ROSA : SINE : SPINA x h and K at sides of rose. MB. 2. Same, but MM both sides. MB. 3. As 2, but reading HENRIC x 8 x DI x GRA x REX : AGL x Z : F. THORBURN. 4. MM lis, rev, rose. Same as 1 but h and K at sides of shield as well as of rose, only one saltire between words on obv. MB. 5. Same but FRAC, SPIA, two saltires after Z. MB. 6. MM lis. Legends as 1, h and K at sides of rose. One saltire after Henric, none after R or Fra, two after every other word. Rud. v. 8. 7. MM arrow, on both sides. Same as 1, but h and I at sides of rose and of shield, FRANC, two saltires after Z, only one between the other words on obv. (60) MB. 8. Same as last, but obv. legend HENRIC x 8 x D x GRA x REX : AGL x Z x FR. MB.

THIRD COINAGE, 1543. In this year a new indenture was made with the master of the mint, by which the fineness of the coins was reduced to 23 carats fine gold and 1 carat alloy. A lb. troy of this metal was to be coined into £28. 16s by tale. The new sovereigns were to be current for 20s, half-sovereigns (now first substituted for ryals) for 10s, angels for 8s, angelets for 4s, and quarter angels (now first coined) for 2s. The coinage of pieces of other denominations seems to have been stopped.

In 1544 the standard of fineness was still further debased, and the weight of the coins was lowered, making the sovereign weigh 192 grs., and the other coins in proportion. But unfortunately, while it is difficult to tell the fineness of the metal of a coin without assaying it, and consequently we cannot separate the coins of the two years by this test, the weight was so inaccurately adjusted during these last years of Henry VIII and during the reign of Edward VI that it, too, is but a very uncertain guide to the classification of the coins. The mode of arrangement we have adopted, therefore, is to assign to this third coinage all those pieces, whatever their weight, which have a lis for their mint-mark, as that is the only mint-mark used on the angel, angelet, and quarter angel, which pieces were not coined after 1543; and to give to the coinages of 1544 and 1545 those pieces which have the same mint-marks as the crown and half-crown, which were coined in those years but not in the preceding one.

SOVEREIGNS. Value 20s. Weight 200 grs. Fineness 23 carats. 1. Obv. like the former sovereigns, but the king’s figure is different; he wears a short beard and a ruff, and the chain round the field is somewhat different, A rose instead of the portcullis is under the king’s feet, and there are no lis on the inner circle. MM lis. HENRIC x 8 x DI x GRA x ANGLIE xx FRANCIE : ET x HIBE : REX x Saltire before MM. Rev. Shield of arms crowned, supported by lion and dragon, the former crowned, tablet below inscribed HR in monogram. MM lis. IHESVS : AVTEM : TRANCIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORV : IBAT. Rud. vi. 1. MB. Wt. 190.4 grs. 2. Type of obv. different; the king wears a long beard, the back of the throne is curved, there is a bird with expanded wings instead of a cross above the arms of the throne, and no chain round the field. Otherwise as last. MM lis. HENRIC 8 DI GRA ANGL FRANCIE Z HIBERN REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PER MEDIVM ILLORVM IBAT. Trefoil after each word on obv., two between words on rev., one after Ibat. (61) MB. Wt. 188.4 grs. 3. Same but AGL, HIBER. Rev. IHS. AVTEM TRANCIENS PER MEDIV ILLORV IBAT. Two trefoils after 8 and the last four words on obv., one after the others; two after first three words on rev., one after the last three. MB. Wt. 189.2 grs. 4. Similar, but the king has his head on one side, and the rose under his feet is smaller and does not divide the legend. MM WS in monogram, with two cinquefoils on obv., one on rev., and cinquefoil between every word. HENRIC 8 DEI GRA AGL FRAN Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PERMEDIVM ILLOR IBAT. MB. Wt. 199.5 grs. This coin was no doubt struck at Bristol, as the MM, which consists of the initials of Sir William Sharington, master of the mint there, occurs on the silver coins of that place only. It is assigned to this rather than to the fourth or fifth coinages on account of its weight, which so far exceeds 192 grs., the authorized weight of the later sovereigns. All rare.

HALF-SOVEREIGNS. These all appear from their mint-marks to belong to the later coinages, although there are some that weigh more than 96 grs., the proper weight of those coinages.

ANGELS. Value 8s. Weight 80 grs. Fineness 23 cts. Type as before. MM lis. HENRIC x 8 x D x G x AGL FRA x Z x HIB x REX x Rev. PER x CRVCE x TVA x SALVA x NOS x XPE x REDE x Annulet to left of angel’s head and on side of ship. Rud. vi. 6. MB. Or reading PEER, RED, and with two saltires after Rex, Peer, and Nos. (62) MB. These are attributed to this coinage, instead of the previous one, because they have the title of King of Ireland, which does not seem to have been assumed in England till it was granted by the English Parliament in 1543. The weight is the same as in the former coinages, and angels do not appear to have been coined in 1544 or 1545, when the weight was reduced.

ANGELETS. Value 4s. Weight 40 grs. Fineness 23 cts. Type as the angels. MM lis. HENRIC x 8 x D x G x AGL x FR x Z x HIB x REX. Rev. O ° CRVX ° AVE ° SPES ° VNICA ° Annulet on side of ship. Rud. vi. 7. MB. 39.6 grs.

QUARTER ANGELS. Value 2s. Weight 20 grs. Fineness 23 cts. Type as the angels. 1. MM lis. HENRICVS x VIII x DEI x GRA x AGLIE. Rev. FRANCIE : ET : HIBERNIE x REX. Rud. vi. MB. Wt. 19.8 grs. 2. Same but DI, a single saltire after every word. (63) MB. Wt. 18.7 grs. 3. MM lis, legend on both sides as obv. of 1, but DI; h and rose at sides of cross on rev, omitted, but small R at right of cross, saltire after every? word except the last on rev. Rud. vi. 8. The figure of the angel on the last two of these is slightly different from that on the first. All very rare.

FOURTH COINAGE, 1544. FIFTH COINAGE, 1545. Another indenture, of 1544, further reduced the standard to 22 cts. fine and 2 cts. alloy, and a lb. troy of this metal was to be coined into £30 by tale. The coins specified in this indenture are sovereigns, half-sovereigns, crowns, and half- crowns. In 1545 the metal was still further debased to to 20 cts. fine and 4 cts. alloy, the lowest state of degradation which it has ever reached in England. No other difference was, as far as we know, made in the coins in this latter year, and we are therefore unable to separate them from those of 1544. We have already pointed out that the weight of the coins of these two years was so inaccurately adjusted that it forms no guide for distinguishing them from those of the third coinage, and that we assign to these years the crowns and half-crowns, which denominations were not struck in 1543, and such sovereigns and half-sovereigns as seem by their mint-marks to be contemporaneous with them.

SOVEREIGNS. Value 20s. Weight 192 grs. Fineness 22 or 20 cts. 1. Like No. 2 of the third coinage but MM annulet enclosing pellet, rev. lis. AGL, HIBER. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANCIENS PERMEDIV ILLORV IBAT. One trefoil after Di, Gra, and Francie, and the last three words on rev., two after the other words on obv., and the first three on rev. MB. 2. Type as the last. MM S. HENRIC 8 DI GRA AGL FRANCIE Z HIBERN REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PERMEDIVM ILLOR IBAT. Trefoil between every word and after Ibat, two after 8, Agl, Z, Autem, Transiens, and Medium. Rud. vi. 10. MB. Wt. 193.7 or 189.8 grs. 3. Type as the last, struck at Bristol MM WS in monogram, on obv. only. FRANCI Z HIBER, ILLOR. Trefoil after Henric, Di, and Gra, none after Agl, two between all the other words, two quatrefoils after Rex. THORBURN. Wt. 184½ grs.

HALF SOVEREIGNS. Value 10s. Weight 96 grs. Fineness 22 or 20 cts. 1. Type like No. 2 sovereign of the third coinage. MM annulet enclosing pellet. HENRIC 8 DI GRA AGL FRANCIE Z HIBERNIE REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANCIENS PER MEDIVM ILLORVM IBA. The stops on both sides are only dots. MB. 94.3 grs. See Rud. vi. 11, which reads TRANSIENS. 2. Same, but HIBERN, TRANSIENS, IBAT. MB. 94.6 grs.; or HIBERNI. MB. 94.7 grs. 3. MM as 1. HENRIC 8 D G AGL FRANCI Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIE PERMEDI ILLOR IBA. Saltire stops on obv., trefoil on rev. MB. 4. MM as 1. HENRIC 8 D G AGL FRANCI Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTE TRANSI PERMEDI ILLOR IBAT. Trefoil after each word on obv. and after Aute and Transi, two after 8, Agl, Ihs, and Illor. MB. 97 grs. 5. Similar to last but TRANSIENS, 96 grs., or FRANCIE, TRANSIENS, MEPIV, 97 grs. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 187. 6. As 4, but FRANCIE, TRANSIENS; trefoil-shaped stops. MB. 7. As last, with annulet on inner circle on obv. under E in Rex, and on rev, under B in Ibat. MB. 8. As 4, but FRANCIE, TRANSIE PER MEPIVM ILLORV. Trefoil between each word, two after Medium and Illoru. Annulet on inner circle on obv. under X in Rex, and on rev, under I in Ibat. (64) MB. 9. As 4, but FRANCIE, ILLO. Trefoils between words on both sides, two after Henric, 8, Agl, Hib, and Illo. Annulet on inner circle on rev, under T in ibat. MB. 10. As 4, but MM S, FRANCIE, TRANSIE, trefoil between every word, two after Rex, one after Ibat. MB. 94.4 grs. 11. Same, but MEDIV. Trefoil between every word, two after 8, Agl, Francie, and Hib, one after Rex. E below shield. MB. 12. As 10, but FRANCI, TRANSIENS, PERMEDIV. Trefoil after every word and before Ihs, three after Agl, two after Transiens and Mediu. E under shield. MB. 13. As 10, but TRASIENS, E under shield, trefoil after every word on obv. and after Aute, two after 8, Agl, Francie, Hib, Trasiens, and Medi. MB. 95 grs. 14. MM as 10, legends as 4 but TRANSIENS, E under shield, saltire between every word on obv., two after Henric, 8, Agl, and Rex; trefoil between every word on rev. MB. Or TRANSIE PERMEDIV, saltire between every word on obv., two after 8, saltire after Ihs, trefoil after Transie, Mediu and Illor. THORBURN. 15. MM as 10, legends as 4 but TRANSIENS, E under shield, saltire after rev. MM, and after words on each side, two before Henric and after 8, Agl, Rex, Transiens and Illor. MB. 16. As 10, but the king has no sceptre, a under shield, FRANCI, TRANSIENS. Trefoil before obv. MM and after each word on obv., two before franci, saltire between each word on rev. MB. 94½ grs. 17. Type as 1, MM obv. S rev, E ?, E under shield, legends as 4 but FRANCIE, TRANSIENS, saltire after 8, D, G, Z, Aute, Transiens, and Ibat. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 188. 93¼ grs. 18. Type as 1, MM E, E under shield, legends as last but HIBERN. Small mascle after Z, two between the other words on obv. Stops on rev. doubtful. MB. 94½ grs. 19. Same, but IBA, mascles for stops on rev. MB. 20. Type as 1, MM WS in monogram on obv. only, legends as 17, trefoil after every word, two after 8, Francie, and Z. No letter under shield. MB. This, from its MM, was struck at Bristol. See p. 94.

The above coins present but little difficulty except from the variations in their weights; but there is another series of half-sovereigns which must evidently, from their general resemblance and their mint-marks, have immediately succeeded these, but which, together with the name of Henry VIII, bear the portrait of a decidedly youthful king, the same portrait indeed as appears on the half-sovereign of Edward VI, Rud. vii. 3. The mint-marks on these coins, as well as some on the previous series, are the same as on the crowns and half-crowns bearing the name of Henry VIII. It seems very strange that a young face should be substituted for an old one on the latest coins of Henry VIII, and Mr. Evans has therefore suggested that the coins which bear this young face must have been struck under Edward VI, notwithstanding that his father’s name was still used. This supposition appears the more probable when we consider the unlikelihood of so great a variety of mint-marks, no less than six altogether, having been used on the same denomination of coin during the two years that elapsed between the issuing of the coinage of 1544 and the king’s death; and, moreover, upon the contrary supposition, there must have been almost a cessation of coinage for a time after the accession of Edward VI, as all the early coins bearing the name of that monarch are extremely rare. Such an appropriation, however, would necessitate also the removal to Edward VI of the crowns and half-crowns bearing the same mint-marks as these half-sovereigns, and also of the corresponding silver coins; and in the absence of any explanation of the reasons which could have caused the retention of Henry’s name on the coins after there had been time to engrave a portrait of Edward, we do not think that the evidence is sufficient to justify us in making such a change. We will therefore proceed to describe these coins as we find them, as belonging to the coinages of the last two years of Henry VIII.

21. King’s face young, beardless, small ruff, fur collar to robe, rose under feet not dividing the legend. Throne very different to the former ones, back round, not chequered, a winged figure standing on the arms of the throne, the legs like those of a chair, not column-shaped. Otherwise like the last half-sovereigns. No MM on obv., S? on rev. No letter under the shield on rev. HENRIC 8 D G AGL FRAN Z HIB REX. Rev. IHS AVTE TRANSIEN PER MEDI ILLOR IBAT. Diamond-shaped stops between the words on obv., none on rev. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 188. 91½ grs., or TRANSIE, diamond-shaped stops on both sides, the rev. MM probably intended for an E. THORBURN. 22. Type as the last, MM on both sides E, E under the shield, legends as last, but FRANC, AVTEM TRANSIENS. Diamond-shaped stop before Henric and Ihs, and after Henric, Franc, and Z, and each word on rev., two after the other words on obv. MB. 92.2 grs. 23. Same, but DEI GRA, FRA. Rud. vi. 2. 85½ grs. Or with the E under the shield reversed, Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 188, 96 grs. 24. As 21, with no MM on obv., E on rev., E under the shield, FRA, TRANSIE, IBA. Diamond-shaped stop between each word on obv., except after Z, three after 8, one ? between each word on rev. MB. 96.4 grs. 25. Type as 21, no MM on obv., E ? on rev., HENRIC 8 D G ANGL FRANC Z HIBER REX. Rev. IHS AVTEM TRANSIENS PER MEDIVM ILLOR IBAT. E under the shield. Small pierced cross after Angl, Z, Hiber, and Rex, and after the F in Franc, small saltire between the other words and after Ibat. MB. 99 grs. 26. Same as 23 but no MM, K under shield. Rud. vi. 12, obv. only. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 188. 87½ to 93½ grs. 27. Type as 21. MM arrow. HENRIC 8 D G ANGL FRANC E HIBER REX. Mascle before Henric and after each word except E and Hiber, two after Angl. Rev, legend as 25, small cross after Autem and Ibat. Ib. 93 to 97 grs. 28. Obv. as last. Rev. MM as last, IHS AVTE TRANSIE PER MEDI ILLOR IBAT, no stops. Ib. 93½ grs. 29. Type and MM as 27. HENRIC 8 D G AGL FRAN Z HIB REX. Rev, legend as last. Mascle after every word, two after 8, three after Rex. (65) MB. 94.2 grs. The reverse of this coin has been double struck. Or reading FRANC, AVTEM TRANSIENS, mascle after every word except Per, two after Agl and Rex. THORBURN. 30. Type and MM as 27, HENRIC 8 DEI GRA AGL FRA Z HIB REX. Rev, as 28, but AVTEM TRANSIENS. Diamonds between the words. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 189. 91 grs. 31. Type as 21, MM grappling iron. Obv. legend as last. Rev. IHS AVTE TRANSIEN PER MEDIV ILLO IBAT. Dot after each word except Per. Grappling iron below shield on rev. Ib. 96½ grs. 32. Same, but MM on obv. only. HENRIC. 8: D. G. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX; Rev. IHS. AVTE TRANSIE. PER. MEDI. ILLOR. IBA. MB. 33. Type as 21. MM martlet. Legends as last but AVTEM TRANSIENS, IBAT. Dot between each word and after Ibat, two after 8. MB. 34. Same but FRANCI, small annulet after 8, D, and G. Num. Chron., N. S., xii. 188. 95 3/4 grs. 35. As 33, but DEI GRA, AVT, MEDIV ILLO. Ib. 93 grs. 36. Type as 21. MM lis. HENRIC. 8: D. G: AGL. FRANCIE: Z : HIB : REX : Rev. IHS. AVTEM: TRANSIENS: PERMEDI ILLO. IBAT MB.

CROWNS. Value 5s. Weight 48 grs. Fineness 22 or 20 cts. Type as those of the second coinage, with h and R crowned on each side of the rose on obv. and of the shield on rev. 1. MM annulet enclosing pellet. HENRIC 8 ROSA SINE SPINE. Rev. DEI GRA AGL FRA ET HIB REX. Trefoil before Henric and after Fra, none after Hib, two after every other word. MB. 2. MM martlet. HENRIC 8 RVTLANS ROSA SIN SP. Rev. DEI GRA AGL FRA Z HIB REX. MB. Wt. 47.2 grs. 3. Obv. MM pierced trefoil? HENRIC 8 ROSA SINE SPINE Ornamented cross and four saltires after Rosa and Sine. Rev. MM WS in monogram. D. G. ANGLIE FRA. Z. HIB. REX X Ornamented cross and two saltires after Anglie. MB. Wt. 47.8 grs. 4. MM WS in monogram on rev, only, legends as the last, quatrefoil after MM and after Sine, Spine, and Anglie, lis after Rosa, trefoil after Henric, Fra Z, and Hib. Rud. vi. 5. 5. MM obv. cinquefoil, rev. WS in monogram, legends as 3 but HENRICVS. Quatrefoil after Rosa and after rev. MM, pierced cross after Sine and Anglie, slipped trefoil each side of Z, small annulet before Henricus. (66) MB. Wt. 48.1 grs. 6. MM’s as last. HENRIC VIII ROSA SINE SPINA. Quatrefoil after VIII. Rev. D. G. ANGL. FRANC. Z. HIB. REX, quatrefoil after Angl and Rex. THORBURN. Wt. 47 grs. This is the only coin of the last years of the reign which has VIII instead of 8. The WS shows that the last four of these coins were struck at Bristol. See ante, p. 94.

HALF - CROWNS. Value 2s 6d. Weight 24 grs. Fineness 22 or 20 cts. Type as those of the second coinage, with H and R at the sides both of the shield and of the rose, but on two coins the king’s name is on the rose side instead of the shield side. The stops are generally mere dots between the words. 1. MM annulet enclosing pellet, king’s name on shield side. HENRIC 8 D G AGL FR Z HB REX. Rev. RVTILANS : ROSA : SINE : SPINA. (67) MB. 2. Same, but HIB, omitting REX; SPI; mascles instead of saltires on both sides; the Ns are of the Roman shape. MB. 3. MM E, followed by a small quatrefoil. King’s name on the rose side. HENRIC 8 ROSA SINE SPI. Rev. DEI GRA ANG FRA Z HIB REX. Stops doubtful.MB. 4. Same, but SPIN, AGL. MB. 5. MM E on obv. only. As 1, but AG FRA Z HIB, SP. No saltires. The Ns on this and the two next coins are of the Roman, not the English, shape. MB. 6. MM E on rev, only?, legends as 1 but SPI, no saltires. Rud. vi. 4. 7. MM arrow, legends as 1 but AG FR Z HIB, SP. The stops between the words are small mascles. EVANS. 8. Same, but HI. MB. 9. MM arrow. H. D. G. RVTILANS. ROSA SINE SP. Rev. RVTILANS. ROSA : SINE SP The stops are small mascles. Rud. v. 13. Pembroke collection. 10. MM WS in monogram on rev, only. As 1, but ANG FR Z HIB. Two saltires after Rutilans only. Rud. vi. 3. MB. 11. Same, but SPI, two saltires between each word on rev. MB. The two last were struck at Bristol by Sir Wm. Sharington. All rare.

Besides the mint at the Tower, at which the great majority of the coins were struck, Henry VIII had a royal mint, separate from the ecclesiastical one, at Canterbury; in or about the year 1543 he re-established one at Bristol, and in 1545 at York; but the patent for the coinage at this latter city was confined to silver coins, and this was very likely the case at Canterbury also. The ecclesiastical mints, which were at Canterbury, York, and Durham, never struck gold coins. Some, however, were struck at Bristol, and are distinguishable by having for their mint-mark WS, the initials of Sir W. Sharington, master of the Bristol mint. A mint also existed at Southwark in the first year of Edward VI, and perhaps in the last years of Henry VIII, but no coins struck here in Henry’s reign have yet been distinguished.

TABLE OF MINT MARKS.
Double
Sov
Sov Ryal ½ Sov Angel George
Noble
Crown Angelet ½ Crown ¼ Angel
1ST COINAGE, 1509.
Lis, rev. cross-crosslet + +
Portcullis + + + +
Castle + +
2ND COINAGE, 1526.
Pheon +
Rose with K in field + + +
Lis, rev. pheon +
Lis, rev, rose, K in field +
Lis + +
Lis with K in field + Rud.
Lis, rev, arrow +
Arrow with K in field +
Arrow with A in field +
Arrow with K and I in field +
Arrow with I in field + +
Arrow with R in field Evans
Sun's rays and cloud + +

TABLE OF MINT MARKS.
Double
Sov
Sov Ryal ½ Sov Angel George
Noble
Crown ½ George
Noble
Angelet ½ Crown ¼ Angel
3RD COINAGE, 1543.
Lis ++ +
Lis with annulet on side of ship + +
WS +
4TH AND 5TH COINAGES, 1544, 1545.
Annulet enclosing pellet, rev. lis +
Annulet enclosing pellet + + +
Same with annulet on inner circle on both sides +
Same with annulet on inner circle on rev. +
S + +
S with E under shield +
S rev. E:E under shield NC
E with E under shield on ½ sov. + +
WS on obv. only Th. +
WITH YOUNG FACE ON ½ SOVs.
S? on rev. only NC
E on obv. only +
E, E under shield +
E on rev, only, E under shield on ½ sov. + Rud.
No MM, K under shield NC
Arrow + +
Grappling iron +
Martlet + +
Lis +
Trefoil rev. WS, +
WS on rev. only Rud. +
Cinquefoil rev. WS +

N. C. - Numismatic Chronicle, N. S., xii. 188, 189.

Henry VII (1485-1509) | Table of Contents | Edward VI (1546-1553)


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