The Coins of his Majesty King George the First, are of the same species and value as those of Queen Anna,
with this stile, Georgius Dei Gratia, Magnae Britanniae, Franciae Rex, Fidei Defensor; Brunswic. et Luneburgen. Dux,
Sacri Romani Imperii Archi Thesaurarius, et Princeps, Elector; but PR. for Princeps, was only
inserted upon the gold Money of his first year, being afterwards omitted, though it has continued ever since upon
the great seal.
The silver Money, from the Crown to the Sixpence, are alike, having his Majesty's bust laureat, looking to the left, the British titles on the head-side, and the Electoral on the reverse, viz. GEORGIVS. D. G. M. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. FD. his Majesty being the first of our Kings that used the stile of Fidei Defensor upon his Money; which is something remarkable, considering that it had been constantly been used in the stile of our Kings, from the time that Henry the Eighth had that title conferred on him by the Pope. Reverse, BRVN. ET. LV. DVX. S. R. I. A. TH. ET. EL. 1715. The four shields crowned, and the star of the garter radiant in the centre. The arms being marshalled in the same circular order as upon the Money of the four preceding reigns, only upon these Ireland is placed in the bottom shield, and in the dexter (where Ireland was) are the arms of his Majesty's German dominions, viz triangular, two in chief, and one in base; first, Brunswick, two lions passant, guardant; second, Lunenburgh, semè of hearts, a lion rampant; third, Saxony, a horse current; in an escutcheon in the centre Charelmagne's crown, as Arch-Treasurer of the empire. Upon the rim of the Crowns and Half Crowns, DECVS. ET. TVTAMEN. and the year of the reign.
Some of these Pieces have the Prince's device and rose alternately in the quarters.
Shillings of 1723, and 1724, have WCC. under the head, for Welch Copper Company, being made of the silver extracted from their mines: and upon the reverse have the Prince's device, and two C's interlinked, alternately in the quarters.
Likewise Shillings with SS. and C. in the opposite quarters, being of the South Sea Company's silver.
The smaller Pieces, from a Groat to a Penny, have his Majesty's head like the former, and GEORGIVS. DEI. GRA. Reverse, MAG. BRI. FR. ET. HIB. 1720, and in the area a numeral of the value, under a crown.
The gold Money, viz. Guineas, Half Guineas, Forty Shilling, and Five Pound Pieces, are like the silver Money, with the usual difference, that is, the neck bare, and the sceptres added in the quarters; the Guinea of the first year having likewise the addition of PR. in the titles, the letters of the legend also smaller than those that were coined afterwards.
The Guinea of 1722 is supposed to have his Majesty's face, the most resembling him of any; and that of the year 1724 is remarkable for a very broad margin, between the legend and the edge of the Coin.
Hitherto Guineas had been current for twenty-one Shillings and Sixpence, and other gold Coin in proportion, which was a higher rate than gold was valued at abroad. This brought great quantities of foreign gold hither, and raising the price of silver in bullion, above silver in coin, caused our silver Money to be melted down and transported; and this was the reason that so much gold was brought to the mint in this and the three following years, and so little silver. To remedy this inconvenience, the gold Money was now reduced by proclamation, the twenty-second of December 1717, viz. the Guinea to twenty-one Shillings, and no more; and Half Guineas, Double Guineas, and Five Pound Pieces in proportion. The other Pieces of the ancient gold Coin of the kingdom, which had been received and paid for twenty-three Shillings and Sixpence, for twenty-three Shillings, and no more; and the Pieces of twenty-five Shillings and Sixpence, for twenty-five Shillings, and no more, the smaller Pieces in proportion.
In 1718 was coined a new species of Money, called Quarter Guineas, being the fourth part of a Guinea in value, and bearing the same stamp, but these being found too diminutive for use, no such Pieces have been coined since.
The gold and silver Coin to the year 1724, inclusive [Phillip's State of the Nation, 8vo. Lond, 1726, p. 55.] was, as follows:
The copper Halfpence and Farthings are very clumsy Pieces, thought not so heavy as King William's by ten grains, nor as King Charles's, by above twenty, the pound of copper valued in bars for coining at eighteen Pence, making twenty-three Pence in tale of copper Money. They have his Majesty's bust with short hair laureat, GEORGIVS. REX. Reverse, the figure of Britannia, BRITANNIA. Exergue, 1717. Those of the first coinage are not so broad as those that followed.
In Ireland there was a great want [Report of the Committee of Privy Council, 24th July 1724.] of small Money for change, in all the common and lower parts of traffic, none having been coined in the former reign: and this want appeared by the common use of Raps, a counterfeit Coin, of such base metal, that what passed for a Halfpenny, was not worth half a Farthing; and considerable manufacturers were obliged to give Tallies, or Tokens in cards, to their workmen, for want of small Money. Upon this consideration, his Majesty granted a patent to William Wood, Esq. for the term of fourteen years, for the coining of Farthings and Halfpence in England, for the use of Ireland, under the inspection of a comptroller. The quantity for the whole term was limited to three hundred and sixty tons, in value one hundred thousand eight hundred Pounds, whereof one hundred tons was to be issued within one year, and twenty tons each year afterwards; the same to be made of fine British copper (as good as the English copper Coin) which, when headed red hot, would spread thin under the hammer, a pound to be coined into two Shillings and Sixpence, (which was Sevenpence more than the English) and without any compuslion or currency enforced, to be received by such only as would voluntarily and willingly accept the same. Accordingly, about seventeen thousand Pounds value of these Halfpence and Farthings were made and uttered in Ireland, in the years 1722 and 1723, having on one side the King's head like the Guinea, but more resembling his Majesty, and a much hansomer Coin than the English Halfpenny, GEORGIVS. DEI. GRATIA. REX. Reverse, Ireland, represented under the figure of a woman in profile, sitting with a palm-branch in her right hand, and resting her left upon a harp, HIBERNIA, 1722, or 1723. But the Farthing of 1722, has the figure of Hibernia sitting fronting, her head being turned to the right, and holding her harp on that side with both hands. These were undoubtedly the best copper Money ever made for Ireland, considerably exceeding those of King Charles the Second, King James the Second, and King William and Queen Marry, in weight, goodness, fineness, and value of the copper, as was proved by an assay taken by order of council. But notwithstanding all this, such a spirit of opposition and universal clamour was raised against them, that the Irish parliament, in 1724, addressed [Historical Register, 1724, p. 133, 134.] the King to put a stop to the course of them, as being prejudicial to the revenue, to commerce, to private property, and of dangerous consequence : and charging the patentee with great fraud, in making and importing great quantities, much lighter than was required by the patent, and making an excessive gain; and prepresented, that such a power, vested in the hands of any body or private person, was of dangerous consequence; entreating his Majesty, whenever he thought it necessary to coin any Farthings or Halfpence, the same might be made as near the intrinsic value as possible, and whatever profits should arise thereby, mught be applied to the public service. This was referred to a Committee of the Privy Council, and papers and witnesses were sent for to Ireland to support the allegations; but after waiting four months, not one of either were offered to be produed, but on the contrary [Report of the Committee, 24th July, 1724.] it appeared, that the patent to Mr. Wood was legally and properly passed; that the Money in weight, goodness, and fineness, exceeded the conditions of the patents; that the patentee made no unreasonable profit; and that it was his Majesty's undounted prerogative to grant such a power, as has been done by his predecessors without any complaint, though none of them had been equally beneficial to that kingdom. Whereupon his Majesty, with great justice and moderation, was pleased to direct in council [Historical Register, 1724, p. 264.], the eighteenth of August 1724, that the said Halfpence and Farthings already coined by Mr. Wood, amounting to about seventeen thousand Pounds, and as much more as made up the same forty thousand Pounds, should be permitted to be current, pursuant to the terms of the patent: but afterwards, for the satisfaction of the parliament of Ireland, Mr. Wood surrendered his patent.
About the same time that copper Money was provided for Ireland, there was a new species of Money coined for use of our colonies in America. They were made of a mixed metal resembling brass; one Piece near as broad as a Half Crown, another about the size of an English Halfpenny, and a third about the size of a Farthing, all bearing the same stamp, viz. on one side his Majesty's head, like the Guinea, GEORGIVS. D. G. MAG. BRI. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. Reverse, a large double rose, and over it, ROSA. AMERICANA. 1722. In a scrowl under it, VTILE. DVLCI. Others of 1723, have the rose crowned.
As I have in every reign taken notice of the Coins of our Kings struck in parts beyond the seas, it will be proper to take some notice of those of his Majesty's German dominions, especially as they bear the same figure, titles, and arms as the English; but, to our discredit, they have a better impression, more resembling his Majesty, and a much handsomer Coin than the English, Brunswick having been long famous both for good workmen and good Money.
The Rix Dollar is a noble Coin, broader than the English Crown, but lighter, exhibiting his Majesty's bust laureat, looking to the left, like his English Money, GEORGEIVS. D. G. MAG. BRIT. FR. ET. HIB. REX. F. D. Reverse, the royal Atchievement, or arms, within the garter, with crown, supporters, and motto, DIEV. ET. MON. DROIT. Circumscribed with his Electoral titles, BRVN. ET. LVN. DVX. S. R. I. A. THES. ET. EL. 1716. But has neither inscription nor graining, upon the rim.
Others have graining upon the rim, and upon the reverse the four shields crowned, like the English, with the value in the centre; and most of the Half Dollars or lesser Pieces, are of this sort.
I have likewise seen a Coin of his Royal Highness the Duke of York Bishop of Osnaburgh, larger than a Half Crown, ERNEST. AVGVST. D. G. DVX. EVOR. & ALB. EPISC. OSNABR. with his full atchievement, viz. within the garter the royal arms, with a label of three points, each charged with three human hearts, and in the centre, instead of Charlemagne's corwn, the arms of the bishopric of Osnaburgh, being a wheel of six spokes, all under a coronet, composed of crosses and fleurs de lis. The crest of the lion and royal supporters gorged with the libe label, and crowned with his proper coronoet. motto, PRO. LEGE. ET. GREGE. Reverse, DVX. BRVNSWICENSIS. ET. LVNEBVRGENSIS. In the area, XXIIII. MARIEN. GROSCH. 1721.