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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - Henry VIII, First Coinage

Table of Contents

Henry VIII., 1509 to 1547.
First Coinage

The different coinages of Henry VIII. vary from each other in type, weight and fineness of metal; they may be well divided into five classes. 1. at the commencement of his reight; 2. at his 18th year; 3. at his 34th year; 4 at his 36th year; 5. at his 37th year.

1. His first coinage exactly resembles that of the last years of his father, for he actually continued his portrait upon the coin, only converting the VII. into VIII. in the legend, and, upon some of the half- groats, giving the names of the mint instead of the usual legend of POSVI, &c. Of this coinage we have the groat, half-groat, penny, half-penny and farthing.

The weight and fineness are the same as before, 11 1/10 fine silver, 9/10 alloy, and the penny weighing 12 grains.

The groats of this coinage have all the POSVI &c. legend, and exactly resemble his father's, except that they have VIII. instead of VII. after the name; they have MM. Pheon, Portcullis crowned. (390). Rud. vii. 3. Sn. iii. 12. MB. and Castle, 2. MB.

The Tower half-groats are also like his father's but have no other MM. than the portcullis. Sn. iii. 11. MB.

The Canterbury half-groats have MM. Pomegranate; at the sides of the shield W. A, for William Wareham, Abp. from 1504 to 1532, and read CIVITAS CANTOR. (391). Rud. vii. 4. MB. Ruding calls the MM. a flower, perhaps a thistle; it has too been called a poppy, but there can be little doubt of its being intended for a pomegranate, adopted by Abp. Wareham in compliment to Queen Catherine of Aragon, whose badge it was; as Cranmer afterwards used the Catherine wheel in compliment to the same Queen. MM. Lis, Rud. Sup. iv. 14. Sn. iii. 16. Similar, but legend POSVI &c. Sn. iii. 15. MM. Martlet, legend POSVI &c. WA above the shield, Rud. vii. 6. Sn. iii. 14. MB.

The York half-groats have the same types and the same variations of legend. Some have a Cardinal's cap and keys under the shield without any initial letters. MM. Cinquefoil. Rud. vii. 5. MB. Letter A? MB. Escallop, or Ermine? Sn. iii. 20. MB. Star. Rud. vii. 7. MB. All these have for legend the name of the mint; those with the star have also the POSVI &c. legend. As they have merely the indications of a Cardinal, without any initials, they were possibly struck by Christopher Bainbridge, Abp. from 1508 to 1515, because, being the first Cardinal, he might consider the initials unnecessary; they may, however, have been struck by Wolsey, Abp. from 1515 to 1531, who was also a Cardinal. One, with X B and MM. a martlet, was clearly struck by Bainbridge, it has the POSVI legend and no hat or keys. This might have been struck before 1511 in which year he was made a Cardinal, Rud. Sup. 4. 15. Sn. iii. 17. Others with the keys, Cardinal's hat, T. W. and name of mint for legend, are clearly struck by Wolsey. MM. cross voided. (392). Sn. iii. 19. MB. lis. Rud. Sup. 4. 16.

The type of the penny is the king seated, rev. armorial shield, the legends being always the king's title and name of the mint. London. MM. Portcullis. (394). Rud. Sup. iv. 13. Sn. iii. 10. MB. or pheon. vi. 24. MB. Durham, without letters or MM. Rud. Sup. iv. 17. or with D. W. for Dunelm Wolsey. MM. mullet, 18. Sn. iii. 18. or with T. D. for Thos. Ruthall. MM. lis. Rud. Sup. iv. 7. Sn. iii. 1. MB.

The halfpenny of the first coinage is not, with certainty, to be distinguished from that of the second; but there is some reason to think that all the first have the king's titles for the legend; though T. C. for Thos. Cranmer upon a Canterbury halfpenny with such a legend, shews that it was also used upon the second coinage, as that prelate did not become Abp. before 1533. A halfpenny with the front face of king with his titles as legend, the cross and pellets upon the reverse with the name of London for legend, and MM. Portcullis, we suppose to belong to this coinage, Rud. vii. 10. Sn. iii. 9. MB. As also a Canterbury halfpenny of similar type and legends, with MM. pomegranate, and W A at the sides of the head. (393). MB.

The farthing of this coinage is extremely rare. It has for type a Portcullis with the king's titles; Rev. a cross with a rose upon the centre, and probably some abbreviation of CIVITAS LONDON; but only one specimen, and that not legible, is known; it was Mr. Dimsdale's, at whose sale it produced 3..5s. Rud. Sup. 2. xvi. 17. (395).

Henry VII, Third Coinage | Table of Contents | Henry VIII, Second Coinage

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