1 The splendid Drachma of Antiochus VI. EΠIΦANOY ΔIONYΣOY, King of Syria, (see the plate No. 2) is now in the possession of Christopher Edmonds, Esq. of the Borough of Southwark.
I regret the engraver has here failed, to a certain extent, in giving that contour of countenance so peculiar to this Prince, and which is so well expressed on the coin, where we see the smiling face of a boy; but in the plate, the expression of the face is more allied to grief .than the contrary passion. [Return to Text]
2 They had imaginary coins of higher value, intended to facilitate computation and exchange. [Return to Text]
3 Witness his treatment of the children of Albinus, whom he murdered. [Return to Text]
4 Some few years since, an interesting discovery took place on the Continent of a large number of Denarii; they were of Maximian, (Hercules) Diocletian, Licinius, and Constantine the Great, and others. It was my good for tune to procure a few of the very best of them, which had, I have reason to believe, been selected as the finest from the original hoard. They are in the most brilliant state of preservation, literally gems, with the bloom of the die actually on them, as if fresh from the mint. These coins had been secreted in an urn, and have since formed the nucleus of a small private collection of my own, which it gives me much pleasure to exhibit, on condition they are not handled, or any offer made to purchase, as they are not for sale. Confining myself to this small collection, I take especial care that it neither comes in contact with, or interferes with, the desires of those gentlemen who honour me with their confidence and commands. [Return to Text]
5 The Caros of Ossian, “the king of ships.”
“Who comes towards my son with the murmur of a song? His staff is in his hand, his gray hair loose on the wind. Surly joy lightens his face. He often looks back to Caros. It is Ryno of songs, he that went to view the foe. What does Caros, king of ships? said the son of the now mournful Ossian; spreads he the wings 1 of his pride, bard of the times of old? He spreads them, Oscar, replied the bard, but it is behind his gathered heap.” 2—“The war of Caros.”—Ossian’s Poems.
1 The Roman standard, the Imperial Eagle. [Return to Text]
2 Agricola’s wall, repaired by this sovereign.
6 To this we may attribute the unfrequency of such symbols of christianity on this emperor’s coins, as are so often met with on those of his successors. One of these symbols is very remarkable, and occurs on the small brass, bearing the labarum or banner, piercing or pressing on a serpent—the whole surmounted by the monogram of Christ. I know but of one more variety which bears the monogram, and that is placed in the banner. Two other varieties in the same metal, and of the same size, bear the cross only in the banner. [Return to Text]
7 Mr. Akerman deserves well of his countrymen for publishing his very interesting work on Roman Coins relating to Britain: it is worthy that gentleman’s industry and talent. [Return to Text]
8 The Caracul of Ossian. The son of the King of the World
[Return to Text]
- “Raise, ye bards, the song, raise the wars of the streamy Carun; Caracul has fled from our arms along the field of his pride. He sets far distant like a meteor that encloses a spirit of night, when the winds drive it over the heath, and the dark woods are gleaming around.”—Comala
9 It may be foreign to this essay, but certainly not uninteresting, to notice a coin which has lately caused some investigation. I allude to the ancient Jewish Shekel. Nearly nine months since, a gentleman, proficient in the Samaritan and Hebrew languages, on purchasing three copper coins of me, recently imported from the Greek islands by Lieutenant Greaves, discovered them to be of Simon of the house of the Maceabees, High Priest and Governor of the Jews. This induced him to make further inquiry as to the Shekel; and on my referring him to my friend, Mr. Young, for his superior knowledge on this subject, he shewed me one, but not in fine condition; stating that two more were in the hands of other gentle men. One of these I procured. The characters, being Samaritan, were translated by the gentleman before named; a description of which, with a rough sketch of the coin, I gave to Mr. Young, who was pleased to accept of them. This was about the middle of August. Since then, the same subject has been handled in the Numismatic Journal in a manner far superior to any thing I could attempt. This Journal was published on the 1st of September; to it I refer my reader, as a very long, elaborate, and exceedingly interesting account is given, embodying, I understand, some of the same remarks, and giving the same quotations from the thirteenth and fifteenth chapters of the first book of the Maccabees, which I had as well found in the Apocrypha. It is rather curious, that on my shewing a rough drawing which I had made, and a copy of the Samaritan inscription on it, to a respectable member of the Hebrew persuasion, that he looked on both with a sort of enthusiasm, such as I can never forget, and earnestly entreated, as if for his life, that I would permit him to show both the Shekel and description to the present High Priest of the Jews, the Reverend Solomon Herschell. What was I to do? The coin was not mine own, the owner out of town; I refused it, but overcome at last by his solicitations, I assented. He carried the Shekel, the coin of his forefathers, to his High Priest, who it appears has for many years been anxious to view this piece, so often named, so little understood. It was received with great satisfaction, and returned with many thanks.
In a note addressed to me, dated “Bury Court, November 6th, Anno Mundi 5596,” the Rev. Solomon Herschell says, “I return you my thanks, sir, for your courtesy, in allowing Mr. Russell to have the coin to shew me, at which I was much gratified, it being the first of that description that I have ever met with, that approaches those of the antient High Priests.” The reverend and learned gentleman concludes by adding, “in all respects, I see no reason to doubt its authenticity.”
We meet with coins of the Hebrew Princes of the Macca-bees. Simon, (before Christ 143 years,) Alexander Jannaeus, and Jonathan. Simon’s coins being in Silver, Brass, or Copper. The characters are Samaritan, and express the name of the Prince, with the appellation of the Jewish Metropolis: and in coins struck 143 years before Christ, and for three years afterwards, the date is also added, that is of the Prince’s reign under whom it was struck. [Return to Text]
10 An additionally interesting circumstance connected with this device, “Judea Capta,” on the coins of Vespasian and Titus is, that it would almost appear that the artist employed was acquainted with the prophetic language of Isaiah, delivered many centuries before, who, describing the melancholy fate that awaited Jerusalem, on account of her sins, says, “She being desolate shall sit upon the ground.”—chap. iii. verse 26. [Return to Text]
11 It is worthy of observation, that no early medals have hitherto been found with those remarkable monuments, the Pyramids, portrayed on their reverses. [Return to Text]
Shakespeare—Cymbeline, act iii. scene i. [Return to Text]
- “Caius Lucius. — I am sorry, Cymbeline,
That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar
(Caesar, that hath more kings his servants than
Thyself domestic officers) thine enemy :—
Cymbeline. Thou art welcome, Caius.
Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent
Much under him; of him I gathered honour:—“
13 A splendid one of this description was imported into this country some years since from Ireland, by Mr. P. Reynolds, medallist. It subsequently brought at Mr. Dimsdale’s sale a very high price. [Return to Text]
14 See Snelling, plate i. No. 12. The face is too round in this plate of Snelling. [Return to Text]
15 Snelling, plate i. No 11 [Return to Text]
16 A large number of this sovereign’s Pennies were turned up by the plough some few years since, on an estate called Oxhey Farm, near Watford, in the possession of Mr. Wilcher. They were accompanied with some of Stephen, and had been deposited in an oak box. A few having been brought to me for my opinion by a gentleman, who stated the circumstance of their discovery, I was induced to hasten to the spot, where I was informed they had been sent to a gentleman of Watford, a magistrate, to whom I was referred by Mr. Wilcher; but I learned the coins were previously forwarded to the British Museum, and I lost the satisfaction of seeing them. Amongst them were some types of extreme rarity, which were selected for that establishment. Speed gives a Penny of Henry I. in mistake for Henry II. Rapin, on the contrary, presents us with one of the latter, and attributes it to Henry I. [Return to Text]
17 It has frequently been asked whether the early Princes of Wales struck any coins subsequently to their being driven into the mountains, and forming their Principality. I should answer in the negative. I have never seen any; doubtless they were satisfied with the currency of their conquerors. When George I was Prince of Wales, John Milton, the medal engraver, cut dies for a half crown, shilling, and six-pence, with the Prince’s bust on the obverse, and on the reverse the royal arms with the Prince’s plume. But they were never struck for common currency, proofs only from the dies being taken off. [Return to Text]
18 It is not surprising that this Earl struck coins, as we find that when Stephen was released from prison, one condition was, that “Robert Earl of Gloucester should (under him) have the whole government of the land. But as he was unwilling to be absolved from his allegiance to the Empress, this condition was not fully acted upon. He had the command of her army, and the charge of her son, Prince Henry, but he did not live long enough to see that Prince ascend the throne of England.” [Return to Text]
19 See his Supplement, Part 2nd., plate II Nos. 1 and 2. [Return to Text]
20 This William was likewise Lord of Norwich, Pevensey, and Mortagne. Henry II. confirmed his English titles and knighted him. He was not without ambition, having after the death of Eustace unsuccessfully attempted the capture of Prince Henry on his return from his father’s court. He was aided in this enterprize by the Flemings. Stephen also had an illegitimate son of the name of William. [Return to Text]
21 On the authority of Hume. [Return to Text]
22 Of the name of White. [Return to Text]
23 A little book by Bishop Fleetwood on English Coins fell into my hands the other day. It may possess merit as to the subject it treats of, but the coins therein engraved are sadly misnamed. [Return to Text]
24 Some few years since a gallant general from the north, making what may be termed a tour of speculation, and visiting the country of the Plantagenets, the paternal domain of our early kings, by dint of exertion and from the high rank he bore, was enabled to get together a large number of Anglo-Gallic coins, chiefly from Normandy; and possessing more than were necessary for his private cabinet, the duplicates were brought to auction, but they did not realize the sum the proprietor had calculated upon, and this circumstance, for a time, rather reduced their value. Amongst them were pieces previously almost unknown in this country. [Return to Text]
25 Having paid some attention to the portraits of our sovereigns, I am decidedly of opinion that we occasionally see a real, though rough, likeness in profile of our earliest kings, even of William I. As to Henry I. and Stephen, any one who is a judge of portraits may find, on comparison, a certain profile preserved throughout. Of course, this fact is more distinctly seen in coins of tolerable good work, and some of this description are found among the Pennies of Henry I. With full faced coins the case is different, though I have seen a Halfpenny and a gold Noble of Richard II., both struck when he was a boy, and conveying to a certain extent the image of the youthful sovereign. But it is not until the reign of Henry V that we obtain a real likeness on a full faced coin. [Return to Text]
26 From the Conqueror down to Edward I. it was invariably the rule to add the Moneyer’s name to the place of mintage, but on the reverses of the Pennies of the latter sovereign, we meet with one only (Robert of Hadley), after whose time the place of mintage only is given, in connexion with a cross or with the royal arms, &c. It was reserved for the enlightened age of George III. to have allowed the name, at full length, of an Italian artist to be impressed on the coinage of Great Britain. [Return to Text]
27 It has been suggested by authors, that the triangle on coins is intended to designate their being Irish, as the harp was described of that shape. [Return to Text]
28 Sir Oswald Moseley, Bart., in his recent “History of the Town and Honour of Tutbury” (in Staffordshire), gives the following account of the finding of an immense quantity of coins in the river Dove, in the month of June, 1831:— “Mr. Webb, the proprietor of the Cotton Mills at Tutbury, being desirous to obtain a greater fall for what is commonly termed the tail water of the wheel, which works the machinery of his mill, prolonged an embankment between the mill stream and the river much farther below the bridge (of the Dove) than it formerly extended; and, as a part of his plan, it became necessary to wheel a considerable quantity of gravel out of the bed of the river, from the end of his watercourse as far up as the new bridge. While they were engaged in this operation, on Wednesday, the 1st June, 1831, the workmen found several small pieces of silver coin about sixty yards below the bridge; as they proceeded up the river, they continued to find more; these were discovered lying about half a yard below the surface of the gravel, apparently as if they had been washed down from a higher source. On the following Tuesday the men left their work in the expectation of finding more coin, and they were not disappointed, for several thousands were obtained that day; as they advanced up the river, they became more successful; and the next clay, Wednesday, June the 8th, they discovered the grand deposit of coins, from whence the others had been washed about thirty yards below the present bridge, and from four to five feet beneath the surface of the gravel. The coins were here so abundant, that one hundred and fifty were turned up in a single shovel-full of gravel, and nearly five thousand of them were collected by two of the individuals thus employed on that day: they were sold to the bystanders at six, seven, eight, or eight shillings and six pence per hundred; but the next day a less quantity was procured, and the prices of them advanced accordingly. The bulk of the coins were found in the space of about three yards square, near the Derbyshire bank of the river. Upwards of three hundred individuals might have been seen engaged in this search at one time, and the idle and inquisitive were attracted from all quarters to the spot. Quarrels and disturbances naturally enough ensued, and the interference of the neighbouring magistrates became necessary. At length the officers of the crown asserted the king’s right to all coin which might subsequently be found in the bed of the river, since the soil thereof belonged to his Majesty, in right of his Duchy of Lancaster. A commission was issued from the Chancellor of the Duchy, prohibiting all persons, excepting those appointed therein, from searching, or authorizing others to search, for coin in the river; and for the purpose of insuring the king’s right, the commissioners were directed to institute a further search on behalf of the crown, which search commenced on the 28th June, and was discontinued by them on the 1st July, after having obtained under it upwards of fifteen hundred more coins, which were forwarded to his Majesty and the Chancellor of his Duchy. At the end of this search, the excavation, from whence the coins were principally taken, was filled up, and a quantity of gravel spread over it for the purpose of levelling the bed of the river, so that any further search would now be quite ineffectual. The total number of coins thus found is supposed to have been, upon the most moderate computation, one hundred thousand.
“The coins thus found, besides a number of Sterlings of the Empire, Brabant, Lorraine, and Hainault, and the Scotch coins of Alexander III., John Baliol, and Robert Bruce, there was found a complete English series of those of the first Edward, who at various times had his money struck at the following places, viz. :—London, York, Canterbury, Chester, Durham, Lincoln, Bristol, Exeter, Berwick, St. Edmunds, Kingston, and Newcastle; and also of those he had struck at Dublin, Waterford, and Cork. There were also found specimens of all the Prelatical coins of Edward I. and Edward II., as of Bishops Beck, Kellar, and Beaumont, Bishops of Durham; some others, thought to have been struck by the Abbot of St. Edmunds, bearing upon them the name of ‘Rob. de Hadley,’ and a few issuing from the Archiepiscopal See of York. Besides these enumerated, there were many of Henry III., both of his first and second coinage, and a few of the most early of Edward I.
“On the whole, a finer museum of early English, Scotch, and Irish coins was never before, under any circumstances, thrown open to the inspection of the antiquary and historian.” [Return to Text]
29 Anderson. [Return to Text]
30 They are in the possession of a gentleman whose cabinet contains indisputably the most choice and valuable collection of Saxon and antient and modern British coins in the kingdom, and whose urbanity in communicating information on the subject adds greatly to the pleasure of inspecting them. [Return to Text]
31 This word, Billon, having frequently been made use of, it may perhaps be necessary to explain that in coinage it signifies a composition, consisting either of precious and base metal, or of gold or silver alloyed with copper, in the mixture of which the copper predominates. The word came to us from the French. Some have thought the Latin bulla was its origin, but others have deduced it from Vilis. The Spaniards still call billon coin moneda de vellon.
In the “Recherches Curieuses des Monnoyes de France,” folio, Paris, 1666, at p. 142, Boutteroue states, that in France, billon of gold was any gold beneath the standard of twenty-two carats fine, and billon of silver all below ten Pennies fine. Boizand, in his “Traité des Monnoyes, de leurs circonstances et dépendances,” 12mo. Haye, 1714, tome 1 P. 16, says, that gold beneath the standard as far as twelve carats fine, and silver to six Pennies fine, were properly base gold and base silver; but that it was the mixture under these quantities which made billon of gold, and billon of silver, in consequence of copper being the prevailing metal. Boutteroue, however, speaks of two kinds of billon; one termed “haut billon,” the other “base hilton,” according to the proportion of copper introduced.
Black money, or billon, was struck in the mints of the English dominions in France, by command of the kings of England, for the use of their French subjects. Money of billon was common throughout France from about the year 1200. Hardies, authorized money of Edward the Black Prince, are also found of similar mixture. It was probably one consideration with Henry VIII., in coining base money, that it would circulate in France to his advantage. Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth both caused base money, approaching to billon, for the use of Ireland. [Return to Text]
32 Neither Snelling or Ruding notice this coin, but they give the groat and its half. [Return to Text]
33 It is in the possession of General Ainsley. [Return to Text]
34 One distinction between the coins of Richard II. and those of Richard III. is the Mint-mark. Richard II. always has a cross as a Mint-mark, whereas Richard III. bears a boar’s head or a rose. [Return to Text]
35 Edward was very partial to this emblem, as may be perceived, from the following circumstances. The battle alluded, too namely, at Gladsmore Heath (now enclosed and its name entirely lost) generally designated that of Barnet, was fought on Easter Sunday, the 14th of April, 1471, between that Monarch and the powerful Earl of Warwick. At the moment when victory was doubtful, the stars on the liveries of the Earl of Oxford, (a partizan of Warwick) from the mistiness of the atmosphere were mistaken for the suns borne by the followers of Edward. A volley of shot intended for the Yorkists was discharged at Oxford; he fled, and this turned the scale in favour of Edward, who re-ascended the throne.
Possessing a small freehold on the very spot adjoining the supposed field of battle, I have taken some pains to ascertain the exact scite of the conflict; but after many enquiries and much investigation, I am obliged to accredit the received and prevailing opinion that this memorable engagement took place at a short distance to the north of Hadley Green. Mogg, in his Paterson’s Roads, published in 1822, (p. 179,) says, but I know not on what authority, the battle took place “a little before the meeting of the St. Albans and the Hatfield Roads.”
In the immediate vicinity of Wrotham Park, the residence of George Byng, Esq., M.P., an obelisk was erected to commemorate this event in the year 1740 by Sir Jeremy Sambrook, Bart. (at exactly 11¾ miles from London) and in the Parish of Hadley.
Another pillar for the same purpose may be seen in a gentleman’s garden, from two to three miles north west of the mentioned monument. In the edition of Speed, published in 1750, the place is not designated (as usual) in the body of the map, but in the corner of the page, and he says the battle was fought “near the towne of High Barnet.”
The number of slain must have been very great, as Ed ward had issued orders not to give any quarter. “The dead were buried in the field of battle, half a mile from Barnet, where a chapel was afterwards built in memory of them.” See Hall, fol. 218. Hollingshead, p. 1335, and Stow, p. 423. Crutwell in his Tour, vol. IV. p. 5, edit. 1801, says that “Hadley was formerly a Hermitage belonging to Walden Abbey, founded by Edward IV. to pray for the souls of those were who slain at the battle of Barnet.”
My informant, I find, has committed an error in stating the obelisk, (or, as it is called, the high stone), near Wrotham Park, to be in the Parish of Hadley, instead of the adjoining one of South Mims; likewise that the name of Gladsmore, or Glademoor Heath is entirely lost, as since the former part of this publication went to the press, an intelligent inhabitant of Barnet, Mr. G. W. Miller, who to a love of science adds a thirst for antiquarian lore, informs me that the scite of Glademoor Heath embraces Hadley Green, and the southern part of Mr. Byng’s park, he conceives it to have extended northward towards Northaw, or rather terminated by the bar called Potters Bar, with some extensions westward towards Ridge and South Mims, which partakes of the properties of moor land to the present day. Glade signifying an open space in a forest or wood, it would not be too much to conceive the derivation of Glade Moor Heath, and this is borne out by the fact of Glademoor having been the field of combat between the contending armies. (See in an addenda, at the end, a short account of this celebrated battle, &c.)
In regard to the assumption of the cognizance of the sun by Edward, which it is supposed took place on the eve of the victory he obtained at Mortimer’s Cross in Herefordshire, on Monday, the 2nd February 1461, over the troops of Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, half brother to Henry VI., and leading to his being seated, for the first time, on the throne of England, he might probably have considered it as an earnest of future good fortune, and thus continued to bear it as a badge. After the decisive victory at Barnet, securing to him the crown, Hall, fol. 218, says, “in the afternoon of that day (Easter Sunday, 14 April, 1471) Edward offered up his standard in St. Paul’s.”
Both Hume and Rapin are silent as to the motive of Edward for assuming this cognizance. In my humble opinion, it arose from the occurrence of a Parhelion, and in the absence of all other authority, I venture to quote that of Shakspeare, who has most pleasingly recorded many historical events. In his third part of Henry VI. Scene 1st. “A Plain near Mortimer’s Cross, in Herefordshire,—.
Edward. Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?
Richard. Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun,
Not separated with the racking clouds,
But sever’d in a pale clear shining sky.
See, see! they join embrace and seem to kiss,
As if they vow’d some league inviolable:
Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun,
In this the heaven figures some event.
Edward. ‘Tis wondrous strange, the like yet never heard of.
I think, it cites us, brother, to the field,
That we, the sons of brave Plantagenet,
Each one already blazing by our meeds,
Should, notwithstanding, join our lights together,
And overshine the earth, as this the world.
Whate’er it bodes, henceforward will I bear
Upon my target three fair shining suns.”
This quotation is so peculiarly apposite and beautiful that I feel assured I shall be excused for its insertion.
Authors have justly considered it very extraordinary no remains of this sanguinary conflict have been discovered, and it is the more to be wondered at, as a road was recently made over part of the ground, in the construction of which it was found necessary to excavate to a considerable extent. Nothing however of Antiquarian interest has hitherto been brought to light, either relating to this battle or otherwise, that I have been enabled by repeated enquiries to ascertain, if I except some common and injured groats of the Henries, and a few of those pieces denominated Abbey or Nuremberg tokens, which were found by a labourer on the scite of the new road. [Return to Text]
36 See Ruding’s Annals of the Coinage, second Supplement, plate 3, No. 1. [Return to Text]
37 Of Durham, formerly Chancellor of Exeter. [Return to Text]
38 This is not entirely new to the coinage of this country, as we find Edward the Confessor struck some of his Pennies of the Sovereign type, but differing from these in their appearance. Henry III. was the only Monarch who added the numeral to his name, until Henry VII when the custom was continued. Rapin, fol. edition, London, 1743, page 692, says, Henry VII. coined small pieces called Dandy-prats, but of what value or fashion these Dandy-prats were, I am quite at a loss, having never seen any. [Return to Text]
39 Snelling improperly terms this a halfpenny. [Return to Text]
40 Snelling and other authors have commited an error in calling those pieces of Elizabeth with the engrailed edge, milled coins, whereas the mill had nothing to do with their manufacture. The fact is, the first coins for circulation which we find milled, are those of the Protector, by T. Simon: if you argue that those pieces were not struck for currency, there being coins of the Commonwealth which were in circulation of the same date, I cannot contradict you. Then the earliest milled coins will be found of Charles II. well executed by the Roettiers, about the year 1663. Peter Blondeau, a native of France, is considered to have been the inventor or improver of the mill and inscribed edge, and the first who used it in England. As the Author of the work on “Coins, Medals, and Great Seals,” executed by T. Simon, asserts his belief that Simon engraved or assisted Blondeau to engrave his Pattern pieces, there can be no doubt that the former artist was indebted to him for the knowledge of the mill.
Blondeau appears after all to have been scurvily treated by the English moneyers of that day attached to the Mint, who had by artifice and unfair means obtained possession of his secret. Much as I execrate the idea of seeing any but an Englishman as our chief engraver, still we have no right to invite foreign talent, make it our own, and abuse instead of rewarding the possessor of it. [Return to Text]
41 A noble Lord (the Earl of Harrington) whose father was Governor of Windsor Castle when the coffin of Charles I. was opened in the month of April 1813, in the presence of the Prince Regent, stated to me, that being at that period a youth of Eton College, and on a vist to the Castle, he was permitted to accompany the Prince into the Vault, in which lay the body of Charles. His Lordship added that when the coffin lid was removed, and the head raised, it had the pointed beard, and bore even then a strong resemblance to that beheld on the coins of that unfortunate Sovereign. [Return to Text]
42 I considered myself very fortunate some years since in procuring one at a sale for £9, for the Oxford Museum; had there been further competition, it would have brought double that sum. [Return to Text]
43 Pistrucci. [Return to Text]
44 Of all the blunders which have emanated from our National Mint, those of the two error halfpence of George. II. and George III., formerly termed “Tower Half-pence,” stand preeminent. Indeed, it must ever remain a matter of astonishment, that such a circumstance could have taken place. If the collector of these coins will take the trouble to search, he will find in the year 1730 one of the half-pence of the first named sovereign, spelled GEOGIUS. This certainly is very extraordinary; but is it not much more so to find, subsequently, one issuing from the Mint of his successor George III. likewise misspelt? This reads GEORIUS instead of GEORGIUS, and was issued in 1772. From what I have heard, I have reason to believe, that after the latter coins were circulated, a reward was offered for each piece if returned to the Mint. This is probable, as they are more rare than those of George II. [Return to Text]
45 It may afford some information to those unacquainted with the terms, hammered and milled coins, to explain them. The hammered coins were thus executed: a large piece of metal was divided into small squares, as near to the size of the coin required as possible; the corners were then cut off, and the pieces reduced to their proper weight. They were then by a gentle hammering rendered as round as they could be by this process, placed in the die, and struck off by the blow of an immense hammer. In some instances, for the larger pieces, repeated blows were necessary.
The milled money is thus produced: a piece of gold, silver or copper in a bar, or otherwise, is placed between two rollers (called a flatting mill), and by compression is brought to the proper thickness of the coin intended to be struck. The blanks are then cut out with tools made for that purpose, reduced to the weight required, and placed separately in the die, encircled with a steel collar, which produces the milling on the edge of the coin, and by means of a press, instead of the hammer, as formerly, the coin is perfected.
It will be seen in a moment, that the collar produces that marked difference between the hammered and milled coins, being perfectly round; and as the blank within it cannot escape from the blow or squeeze given, it leaves the die a complete circle, and having the milling or letters, if there are any, on the collar: if letters, the collar must be in parts, generally three or four, as may be seen on the edges of our crown pieces: it would be impossible otherwise to release the coin from it without erasing the letters. And when a collar of this description is used, it is enclosed within another of one piece only, to enable it to withstand the force of the compression. [Return to Text]
46 If any thing can equal or probably surpass this production, it is the minute representation by the same artist of George IV. on the reverse of his Coronation Medal. This figure is exquisite, (the head in particular is a wonderful effort of art), it certainly possesses more grace, elegance and freedom than that of Charles II. on his Coronation Medal by Simon, beautiful and faithful as to likeness, as the latter undoubtedly is. The execution of the three female figures, representing England, Scotland and Ireland is very fine. Their attitudes may, in a degree, be objected to, from an apparent sameness in them.
It is deeply to be regretted that this country, at the accession of our present Sovereign, was so poor, or so niggardly, as to be unable, as heretofore, to afford two Coronation Medals, one of his Majesty, and the other of the Queen. There would have been ample scope for a reverse to each, from the King’s affinity to and attachment to the Navy, and from the amiable qualities which adorn his consort. But Wyon has certainly done his best, as the Coronation Medal by him, bearing on the obverse the bust of the Sovereign, and on the reverse that of her Majesty, is beautifully chaste, and finely executed. [Return to Text]
47 It may afford information to some few of my Readers to explain what is meant by the term Maundy money; previous to which I must digress, by stating that in the Roman Catholic Church it was the custom on the Dies Mandati, or day of command, so termed, being the day preceding Good Friday, now called Maundy Thursday, for the religious to entertain and wash the feet of a number of poor persons, (in accordance with the same act performed by our Saviour), after which alms were bestowed upon them of pieces of silver. A relic of this custom we preserve, and surely the most fastidious will not presume to find fault with a usage which is the occasion of much relief to the aged widow and those in need. On the day named a certain number of poor men and women, of each the exact number of the years of our Sovereign’s age, attend Divine Service in the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, in the morning and afternoon. Bread, meat, and fish is distributed to them in large wooden bowls, and a procession formed of the King’s Almoner, or his Deputy with other Officers, who are decorated with white scarfs and sashes, and carrying bouquets of flowers, one of the Officers bearing a large gold dish or salver, on which are placed small red and white kid bags; the red containing a sovereign, and the white the pieces termed Maundy money. One of each of these bags is given to the persons selected to receive the Royal Bounty; they have likewise cloth, linen, shoes, &c. given to them as well as a small maple cup, out of which, previous to the termination of the ceremony, they drink the King’s health. There is something very imposing in this little formula, from the peculiar appearance of the Yeomen of the Guard in their antiquated costume, being that of the time of Henry VIII. As the Chapel for some years past has been under repair, the above ceremony has taken place in a temporary building erected for the occasion.
The Maundy Money is to the amount of a penny for each year of the King’s age; presuming that to be seventy-one, there would be given to the value of five shillings and eleven pence. This, however, is not all bestowed in pennies, but generally in the following proportion: three fourpences, six threepences, ten twopences, and twenty-one pennies; and those pieces severally impressed with the date of the year in which they are presented. This is as it should be; but in the reign of George III. there was no rule as to the dates, and the Maundy money in many instances was of a period some years anterior to the day of its presentation.
These small pieces are, by an order of Government, declared current coins of the realm; no one, therefore, dare refuse to take them if they are tendered in payment, still they are not in reality intended for that purpose; as a proof of this, the new groat recently issued, will be found, on examination, to be from the die of the Maundy three pence, that is, the head side; but it has a different reverse and is thicker, and of course of the weight of the Maundy fourpence. They are struck chiefly as presents for various officers attached to the Crown, as well as to others. [Return to Text]
48 The Thalers, and small pieces of Prussia, and of Sardinia in particular, are very superior, not indeed in their design or execution, but they are (to use a medallic phrase) infinitely better made. Speaking here of design, I allude not to our present shillings and sixpences, with a Latin legend on the observe and on the reverse, the value in English. It may be serviceable, but it certainly does not look well, and by many is considered an incongruity. [Return to Text]
49 See the Plate, No. 3. [Return to Text]
50 Probably, reader, in your passage through life, you may have met with some one who has taken you by the hand, whose every exertion, if required, would have been brought into action for your benefit, and whose memory you cherish with a feeling almost allied to idolatry; if you have, you may conceive how highly I venerate that of the late Mr. Richard Miles. This is not flattery, but common gratitude, and the only means left me of attempting to repay the confidence, I may proudly say, the unbounded confidence he so often placed in me. This gentleman was the first medallist (or coin dealer) of his day, contemporary with Snelling, and Pinkerton, intimate with, and esteemed by the highest class of collectors, many, like him, no more—he had no compeer. (I may be accused of arrogance in designating a coin dealer a gentleman; but it must be remembered he was of a superior grade; his classic education, his attainments, and, above all, his urbanity of manners, his conscientious dealing, and his general conduct, fully entitle him to that appellation.) [Return to Text]
51 I must here be permitted to express my grateful thanks to this gentleman for the very many kind acts of friend ship which, in common with others, I have received from him. [Return to Text]
52 William Parsons, who engraved the Saxon coins for Ruding’s work, evinced good taste as an enthusiastic admirer of Roman coins, and was considered one of the best judges of them in his day; but having an unfortunate itch for cleaning them, he spoilt many a fine impression. For some years previous to his death he kept a small print and coin shop in Little Bedford Street; he was an eccentric but very clever man, and his style of engraving peculiar, being entirely self-acquired. [Return to Text]
An Essay on the Roman Denarius | Table of Contents