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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
William III (1694-1701)

Table of Contents

WILLIAM III, 1694 to 1701.

Queen Mary died on December 28th, 1694. At this time the silver coins in circulation had become so much deteriorated that they contained on an average scarcely more than half their proper quantity of silver, and, accordingly, the guinea, which was nominally worth 20s, was usually given and received for 80s. In 1695 a proclamation put an end to the currency of all silver coins “clipped within the ring” from the ensuing 13th of February, and an Act was passed for calling in and recoining all such clipped money, which was carried into effect in the two following years. In consequence of these measures the current value of the guinea fell rapidly. The House of Commons resolved, on the 15th of February, 1695-6, that no guineas should pass in any payments at above the rate of 28s, which they reduced on the 28th of the same month to 26s. In accordance with the latter resolution an Act was passed to impose a penalty on any person who should, after March 25th, 1696, receive or pay any guineas at a higher rate than 26s, or the other gold coins in proportion; provided that nothing in the Act should be construed to compel any person to receive guineas at that rate; and, by another Act of the same session, the penalty is extended to all who, after April 10th, 1696, shall receive or pay them at a higher rate than 22s for a guinea. A third Act called in all the hammered silver money and made it no longer current from December 1st, 1696; and in 1698 the House resolved that no one was obliged to take guineas at 22s, and their current price fell to 21s 6d, at which rate they were received by the officers of the revenue.

The bad state of the silver coins having raised gold coins to so high a price, a great quantity of gold bullion was imported by private persons, who got it coined at the Tower and made thereby great profits, since, by an Act of the 18th Charles II, which, though originally temporary, had been constantly renewed, all bullion of gold and silver was there coined, without any charge whatever, for the person who brought it. In 1695 700,411 guineas were so coined for private persons, besides 21,389 for the African Company. While 30s could be obtained for a guinea, this occasioned a great drain of silver coins of good weight out of the kingdom, for gold was imported and coined to buy them, and when bought they were melted down, and the bullion exported; so to stop this it was enacted in 1695 that, from March 2nd, 1695, to January 1st, 1696, no guineas should be imported, and the mint should be under no obligation to receive or coin any gold whatever except for the Royal African Company, whose gold, imported in return for goods sent to Africa, was to be coined into half-guineas. This Act, however, was repealed almost as soon as it came into force, and the great recoinage of silver soon reduced the gold coins to their proper proportional value. On February 5th, 1700-1, a proclamation was issued that the French louis d’or and the Spanish pistole should not go for more than 17s, which brought such a vast quantity of them to the mint that £1,400,000 was coined out of them. This abundance in the country of French coin gave rise to a report, mentioned by Burnet, that it was imported by the French ambassador, Count Tallard, for purposes of corruption. See also Smollett, vol. i. p. 419.

No gold was coined during this reign elsewhere than at the Tower, the country mints used during the great recoinage of silver having been employed for that metal only.

William III’s coins have on the obverse his bust to right, laureate, long hair, neck bare. GVLIELMVS. III. DEI. GRA. Rev, four shields placed crosswise, each crowned, England above, France below, Scotland to right, Ireland to left, like the coins of Charles II and James II. Between them, in the centre of the coin, is the shield of Nassau, whence issue four sceptres, terminating respectively in orb, thistle, lis, and harp. Legend •MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. with the date.

FIVE GUINEAS. These have the edge inscribed DECVS ET TVTAMEN ANNO REGNI, &c. The bust has a lovelock brought forward on the shoulder. Dates 1699 VNDECIMO, with and without the elephant and castle (141); 1700 DVODECIMO without; 1701 DECIMO TERTIO without; the work of this last is much finer and bolder than the others. Rud. xvi. 9, 13. MB.

TWO GUINEAS. These were only struck in 1701, and are like the five guineas of that year, except that there is no lovelock on the shoulder, and that the edge is milled, not inscribed. (142) Rud. xvi. 10. MB. One with the elephant and castle, dated 1699, given in Rud. xvi. 14, is, according to his editor of 1840, “unknown and supposed to be imaginary.”

MB., except the guineas of 1696 and 1699 without the elephant, which were in Mr. Marshall’s collection.

HALF-GUINEAS. Like the guineas of 1698. Dates 1695, 1697, 1698, 1700, 1701 without, and 1696, 1698 with the elephant and castle. (145) Rud. xvi. 12, 16. MB.

5 guas. 2 guas. 1 gua. ½ gua.
1695 + +
1695 With elephant and castle +
1696 Marshall
1696 With elephant and castle +
1697 +
1698 Head large, berries in wreath + +
1698 Head large, berries in wreath, with elephant and castle +
1699 Lovelock on shoulder +
1699 Lovelock on shoulder, elephant and castle +
1699 Head large, berries in wreath Marshall
1699 Head large, berries in wreat, with elephant and castle Rud. +
1700 Lovelock on shoulder +
1700 Head large, berries in wreath + +
1700 Head large, berries in wreath, with elephant and castle +
1701 head large, berries in wreath + +
1701 Lovelock on shoulder, fine work + +
1701 Fine work, no lovelock +

William III and Mary (1688-1694) | Table of Contents | Anne (1701-1714)


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