This King seems to have been the first, from the conquest, that made any considerable regulations in Money affairs. He suppressed
[M. Paris. Camden's Britan. p. 238. Stowe, p. 151. b.] the mints which every Earl and Baron had in the King Stephen's time,
altered the Coin which was corrupted by counterfeits, by the Traporites or Usurers, who were grievously punished.
He also granted liberty of coining to certain cities and abbies, allowing them one staple and two puncheons at a rate, with
Anno 1156, [Stow, 149, 156.] in his third year, he coined new Money, which only was current in the realm, and all other Coins were forbidden. In 1159 he made a new Coin in England; and in 1180, Philip Aymary [Chronicon Preciosum, p. 66.] of Tours was sent for to new-coin the Money, which was done, and made all round, as says Radulf de Diceto: so says Stow, who calls it a new Coin, (meaning a new coinage) which was made by commandment of King Henry the father, and that it was made round, but not without great burthen to the poor inhabitants of the realm: whereby it is obvious, by making it round, he means recoining it, and calling in all the bad, light, and broken Money, which otherwise could have been no burthen to the people. It was upon this occasion, perhaps, that the Bishop of Salisbury, [Lownds's Essay, p. 165, from the Black Book in the Exchequer.] then treasurer, established the miles argentarius, or assay-master, to try the Money brought in: and from hence we may probably owe the first introduction of sterling for the standard of our Money, as has been discussed more fully under the word sterling.
We have observed under the preceding reign, that this Prince coming into England, in the month of May 1149, in order to assert his right to the crown, made a new Coin, which was called the Duke's Coin: what sort of Money it was we don't know, but it may probably be one of those pieces which are doubtfully ascribed to the two first Henries. But after the agreement between him and King Stephen, pieces were coined with both their figures thereon, as has been shewn.
It is with great uncertainty the Coins of Henry the First and Second are placed to their right owners, and even some of the Third Henry, if any without numerals belong to that Prince. Those that have generally been placed to Henry the Second, may be thus described: they have the King's head within the lesser circle, with a large beard, full-faced and crowned; the crown consisting of a row of points, or pearls, commonly five in number, and a cross of the same in the middle, the right hand appearing in the inscription, holding a sceptre with a cross of pearls, circumscribed, HENRICVS REX. Reverse, a corss of double lines, pelletè at the points, appearing like bones, (exactly like his predecessors) and in each quarter, four pellets in cross, RICARD ON HICOL [Lincoln] ALLWINE ON OCS. [Oxford] ON LVN. ON WILT. ON SEDM. [St. Edmundsbury] NICOLE ON EVE [York] ARNAVD ON CA. ILGE ON CANT. RAVF ON NORWICH. ILGER ON LVND. There being one of the name of this last, who was Custos Monetae at London the sixth of Henry the Third, has made some place these to that King: but besides the great uncertainty in this case, by reason that persons of the same name might have the same office, in different reigns; they would hardly have represented Henry the Third, in the sixteenth year of his age, with an old face, and a long beard, and a different corwn, sceptre, and reverse, from what was afterwards used upon his money; neither would they have omitted to add the number to his name, which, no doubt, was used to distinguish his Coins from the First and Second Henry, from the beginning of his reign.
The draught which Speed gives us of this King's Coin, has his head full-faced, with a crown fleuri like that upon his great seal, and three rows of pearls upon the circle, having drops like ear-rings, of three pearls each, pendant at his ears; in his right hand a sceptre fleuri, and on the left side a flower, HENRICVS REX. Reverse, in the inner circle a compartment of four leaves, in form of a cross, with a like flower and pellets cross-wise in the middle, and a fleur de lis in each quarter.
There is one, ascribed to the younger Henry, who was crowned King in his father's lifetime, but died before him, having his bust to the stomach, the head in profile turned to the right, and in that hand a sceptre.
Another, I have seen, inscribed HENRICVS. I. REX. in all other respects like those of King Henry the father; whether the stroke after Henricus be intended for a numeral, to distinguish the father's from the son's, after the son was crowned King in his sixteenth year, or for a letter, to distinguish the junior from the senior, or only a blunder of the graver, I shall not take upon me to determine. But, methinks, that with two faces, which Speed places to Richard, is much more likely to represent these two Henries, the reverse being likewise exactly like Henry the Second's Money, and so vice versa may serve to ascertain Henry the Second's Money.