In 1642 the Parliament seized upon the Tower and the Mint, and proceeded to strike and issue money,
but, as they used the king's types and titles, and did not venture to coin it in their own name, all such
pieces have been described as the coins of Charles I. It was only after the murder of the king that the
parliament presumed to strike money by their own avowed authority; and the first pieces which occur
bear the date 1649. Of this commonwealth money we have crowns, half-crowns, shillings, sixpences,
twopences, pennies, and halfpennies, marked respectively over the shields of the reverse I. II. VI. XII.
II-VI. V. [respectively but in reverse order, no mark for halfpennies] The halfpenny has on one side a
shield bearing the cross of St. George; on the other, a shield bearing a harp, without any numerals,
date or legend on either side. The types of all the other pieces are the same; Obv. A shield, bearing
the cross of St. George, within branches of laurel and palm, legend, on the four larger denominations,
THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND. Rev. Two shields, one bearing the cross of St. George, the other
the harp of Ireland, legend GOD WITH VS, and the date; numerals indicating the value over the shields,
whose arrangement and appearance was the subject of much ridicule, and acquired for the coin the
nick-name of the breeches money. The pennies and half-groats are without date or legend on either
side. These coins are of the same weight and fineness as the preceding coinages ever since the 43rd
of Queen Elizabeth, 11 oz. 2 dwt. silver, 18 dwt. alloy. The weight in the proportion of 7 23/31 gr. to the
Of the crowns we have the date 1649. Sn. xvi. 7. CUFF, perhaps unique; it is of finer work than
the subsequent coinages. 1651. MB. 1652. Rud. xxxi. 1. MB. 1653. MB. 1654.
MB. 1656. MB. All these have MM. Sun.
Of the half-crowns we have the dates 1649. MB. 1651. Rud. xxxi. 3. MB. 1652.
MB. 1653. Rud. xxxi. 4. MB. 1654. MB. 1656. MB. The above have MM.
Sun; the following have MM. Anchor. 1658. MB. 1659. CUFF, very bad in condition and
work, double struck and date doubtful. 1660. Sn. xvi. 6. MB. Of the date 1654 there is an
imitation of the half-crown, the workmanship very rude, and the laurel branch transformed into oak.
Shillings: of the shillings we have the dates 1649. Rud. xxxi. 6. MB some spelling
COMMONWEALTH with one M. others with two. 1651. MB. 1652. MB. 1653.
MB. 1654. MB. 1655. MB. 1656. MB. 1657. MB. We have not
seen one of this date, but one is said by Mr. Tutet to be in the Hunter collection. All the preceding
have MM. Sun, the following have MM. Anchor. 1658. MB. 1660. Sn. xvi. 5. Rud. xxxi. 2.
MB. In the Museum is a shilling apparently of 1659, but it is made by converting the 2 in 1652
into a 9, and obliterating the MM.
Sixpences: Of sixpences we have the dates 1649. MB. 1651. MB. 1652. MB.
1653. MB. 1654. MB. 1655. MB. 1656. Rud. xxxi. 8. MB. all with MM. Sun.
1658. MB. and 1660. Sn. xvi. 4. MB. with MM. Anchor. Mr. Tutet in a MS. note mentions
1659 as in his own possession, and 1657 in Hunter's Museum. The former is probably a roguish
alteration like the Museum shilling of that date. The Brit. Mus. has one of 1650, but a forgery, made by
altering the date of a sixpence of 1649.
Half-Groat: Sn. xvi. 3. Rud. xxxi. 10. MB. Of this there is a rude imitation. MB.
Penny: Sn. xvi. 2. Rud. xxxi. 11. MB.
Halfpenny: Sn. xvi. 1. Rud. xxxi. 9. MB.
|1649 MM. Sun||C||+||+||+
|1650 MM. Sun||
|1651 MM. Sun||+||+||+||+
|1652 MM. Sun||+||+||+||+
|1653 MM. Sun||+||+||+||+
|1654 MM. Sun||+||+||+||+
|1655 MM. Sun||+||+
|1656 MM. Sun||+||+||+||+
|1657 MM. Sun||H?||H?
|1658 MM. Anchor||+||+||+
|1659 MM. Anchor||C?||T?
|1660 MM. Anchor||+||+||+
The coins of 1658 and 1660 are exceedingly rare; it will be seen from the above table that there are not
any of 1650; those of 1657 and 1659 rest upon the authority of Mr. Tutet, and an accurate examination
of the pieces mentioned would probably lead to the detection of some fraud like that upon the
Museum shilling of 1659, and upon the sixpence of 1650. Half-groats, pence, and halfpence, are not
noted in the table because they are without date or MM. Of the year 1655 there is a half-crown in the
Br. Mus.; but it is plated, and manifestly a contemporaneous forgery.
Charles I, List of Mint Marks |
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