The Penny of King Henry the First is said [Stow's Survey of London, Strype's Edition, Book 1, p. 82.] to be of the same
weight, fineness, form of face, cross, &c. as those of the Conqueror. But there are others, which exhibit his figure in
different attitudes, with some variety, by which it appears they aimed at improvement of the stamp in this reign. In some of
these he appears with a crown composed of three fleurs de lys, without any rays intermixed, or pearls at the ears; and this
sort of crown is upon his great seal, as it is likewise on that of Henry the Second.
One of these Pennies has his head full faced, like Rufus, with an annulet on each side of the head, HENRICUS REX.
That in Speed has his head full faced, with crown and sceptre fleuri, HENRIC REX. Reverse, a compartment like a rose of four leaves, with five annulets in cross, and in each a pellet.
Another placed to this King has his side-face looking to the right, holding a sceptre fleuri in his hand, HENRICUS REX. Reverse, a square figure with a cross, like one ascribed to Rufus; but in this the points both of the figure and cross are fleuri.
There is another sort, whereon he is represented with his face a little inclined to the right, holding in his hand a broad sceptre, with a cross patè, and on his head, a crown with three fleurs de lys, HENRI, (or HENRIC) REX, or REX ANGL. Reverse, a cross patè, with four lesser in the quarters.
Another, with the word PAX; on the reverse, within two double lines, and a couple annulets above, and as many below, perhaps alluding to the peace he made with his elder brother, Robert Duke of Normandy, which secured him the quiet possession of the crown; or (having no sceptre) it may be of Henry the Second, coined in the life of king Stephen, after he had forced him to an agreement, and secured the reversion of the crown; for some of our antiquaries are for placing these two last to the Second Henry.
Anno 1106, in the seventh of Henry the First (says Stow [Annals, p. 201.] it was ordered that the Penny should have a double cross, with a crest, in such sort, that it might be easily broken into Half-pence and Farthings; an absurt and destructive practice, as I ahve observed before, [p. 37.] which needed not to be enforced by law; on the contrary, [In Camden Britannia, p. 177. Eng. Hist. Lib. p. 251. Chronicon Preciosum, p. 46.] Simon Dunelm, and Hoveden, who both lived near the time, inform us, that the King appointed Pence, Half-pence, and Farthings, should be all round; and some of these small pieces are still to be seen in several of the musea of the curious, having the King's head crowned, as on his Penny, with a pearled diadem; but without any manner of inscription. These are thought to be the first Half-pence and Farthings: but by the Penny's being at the same time appointed to be round, which never was coined otherwise, it plainly means only a new coinage, and a prohibition of all clipped and broken Money for the future. But this could not prevent the mischief, notwithstanding severe laws. It grew to such an excess, that in the year 1125, there was forced to be a recoinage; and the Money-makers [Stow's Annals, p. 141.] throughout all England being taken with false Money, had their right hands cut off, and also their privy members, (a punishment less than death, and greater.) After this, by changing of the Money, all things became most dear, whereof a right sore famine ensued. Probably, this new coinage might have a different stamp from the first Money, (which resembled his father's and brother's,) and may be those with the face inclined to the right, having the broad sceptre, and crown fleuri.