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An Historical Account of English Money, 3rd Edition

Stephen Martin Leake, Esq, 1793
George II

Table of Contents

George II. A.D. 1727.

[Note: Original spelling style has not been preserved in this transcription. f is rendered in the modern s, etc. ie, Majefty and Reverfe are presented as Majesty and Reverse resepectively.]

The Money of this King is of the same goodness and value as that of his Majesty King George the First. The silver Coins, from a Crown to a Sixpence, are alike, having the bust laureat, turned to the right, GEORGIVS. II. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse, the arms as his father's, and all the titles abbreviated, M. B. F. ET. H. REX. F. D .B. ET. L. D. S. R. I. A. T. ET. E. 1727. Some have a rose in each quarter, others the Prince's device, and others the rose and feathers alternately: the Crown and Half Crown the usual inscription upon the rim, and Shilling and Sixpences the graining.

The smaller Pieces, from a Groat to a Penny, have the King's head like the larger Pieces, but no graining. Reverse, the figure of their resepctive values under a crown, and the date over it, MAG. BRI. FR. ET. HIB. REX.

The gold Money has his Majesty's head laureat, the neck bare, which has always been the difference between the Guinea and Shilling stamp, except on Queen Anne's Money. The titles are the same as upon the silver Coin, but, instead of misplacing the arms in four shields, as had been done upon all the milled Money since the restoration (except some few of King William and Queen Mary's) the arms in these are properly disposed in one shield crowned. There were two dyes for Guineas in the first year; one very small, with large letters; the other broader, with very small letters; and some of the year 1729, have EIC. under the head, for East-India Company, it being coined of their gold.

Besides Guineas and Half Guineas, which had been the only current species of gold Money, coined since the establishment of the mill, a great deal of the old hammered Money of King James, and King Charles the First, and King Charles the Second, had been hitherto current, by the name of Broad Pieces with their halves and quarters; some of which were diminished by wearing, others by clipping and filling; and though they were full weight, yet the receivers of the customs and excise, and the bank refused to take them, which was a great obstruction to trade, and the due circulation of Money. Whereupon a petition of several merchants, and others, was presented to the House of Commons, and upon their address, his Majesty was pleased to issue a proclamation, the first of February 1732, forbidding [fordidding] the currency of any of the said Pieces of twenty-three Shillings, or twenty-five Shillings, commonly called Broad Pieces, or any half or quarter thereof, and directing the receivers and collectors of the revenue, to receive the same by weight, for the space of one year, at the rate of four Pounds one Shilling per ounce; and to allow for all Broad Pieces brought to the mint within the said time, and to coin the same into other current Coin of the kingdom. The charge and waste in melting, attending the same, was to be made good out of the Monies arising by the coinage-duty. So that his Majesty is the first that absolutely forbit the use of hammered Money, the statute of the ninth of King William extending only to hammered silver Money.

In 1739 there was a new dye for every species of Coin, something better than the former, and the graining which had hitherto been diagonal strokes was now made angular, upon occasion of a gang of Guinea-filers, who had taken more liberty than usual with the Guineas, and for the discovery of whom a reward was publicly advertised. This alteration in the graining is certainly an improvement, not being so easily imitated as the straight strokes; and if it was yet more difficult to counterfeit, it would be a further security to the Money.

His Majesty's copper Halfpence and Farthings are like his father's, but a handsomer Coin, GEORGIVS. II. REX. but it was notorious blunder in the Halfpenny of 1730, to leave the R out of his Majesty's name, and then publish them. The latter dye of 1739, is must the best.

In 1736, copper Halfpence and Farthings, of a beautiful dye, were coined for Ireland, having on one side his Majesty's head Caesar-like, with short hair, laureat, the neck bare like the Guinea, GEORGIVS. II. REX. Reverse, the harp crowned, HIBERNIA. 1736. This is a remarkable instance of his Majesty's indulgence to the Irish, considering what had passed in relation to Wood's patent.

The gold Coins of his Majesty's Electoral dominions, exactly resemble those of Great Britain. The silver have likewise his head laureat, in like manner, with the same titles and arms in a shield crowned; but some have the horse current, with the legend, NEC. ASPERA. TERRENT. Others a wild man (one of his supporters) with the arms on the reverse.

After this deduction of the Coins to our own times, the present state of it naturally comes under consideration. Our gold Money is in a good condition, nor has it suffered any extraordinary diminution, except some of it by filing, which a proper graining will effectually prevent. But great inconveniencies are found by the currency of foreign gold, the heaviest being sold by weight, and melted or filed, the lighter only being current. It is likewise very frequently counterfeited, which is not so easily discovered as in our own Money. Thus we suffer all the inconveniencies of bad Money, though we have good, and which is very unreasonable, people are obliged (by necessity) to take foreign gold Money, which, when they have it, neither the officers of the revenue, nor the bank, will receive. This was the case of our own Broad Pieces, which were therefore called in; and the reason is much stronger with regard to foreign Coin. If it were any advantage to the public, that foreign gold should pass in payment, the advantage would still be greater, to pass in all payments: but, as that is not permitted, we may conclude, it is neither for the honour nor interest of the kingdom. We have not, indeed, at present so much as we have had, but what we have, is worse than ever.

As to the current silver Money, though the greatest part of it is not fifty years old, it is in such a condition, as to be a just cause of complaint. We have not, indeed, had any clipping as formerly, for that is impracticable upon the milled Money, but time has diminished it in a manner equivalent to clipping. Our Sixpences are, many of them, worn to Groats, and some Shilling not much better in proportion. The Half Crowns are not so bad, but then they are not so common; the latter ones, since King William, being most of them melted or transported; and Crowns seem to have answered no other end; they disappeared as soon as coined; and, indeed, are too burdensome for common use, two Half Crowns better answering the purpose.

It is the Sixpences and Shillings therefore which are to be regarded, as most useful: when they are reduced to blanks they cease to be Coins, and may easily be filed or counterfeited, if not safely, for it is impossible to prove such ever to have been coined. This is the case with many Sixpences and Shillings of King William's, which are the bulk of our silver Money; and in a few years will be the case of most of them. There is a degree of lightness, after which no Coin ought to be current. The worth is the intrinsic value, which makes it the measure of all other things: what it passes for above that, is upon the public credit, and the apprehension they may never be renewed, makes some already refused, and this will be more general, as they grow worse. The lightest of these, not being unlawfully diminished, might be yearly renewed out of the coinage-duty, without any considerable charge to the public; but, if continued, both the inconvenience, and loss attending it, will be proportionably greater.


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