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The Silver Coins of England

Edward Hawkins, 1841
Sole Monarchs of England - Stephen and Matilda

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Stephen and Matilda.

Two figures standing opposite each other, and holding between them, a standard, or lance terminating in a fleur de lis. Rev. an escarbuncle of four plain limbs terminating in an annulet, and four engrailed limbs terminating in a fleur de lis. (281). Rud. ii. 3. Sn. i. 30. MB. 2. Various ornaments occupy the place of the legend, and these vary a little in the two Museum specimens.

The figures upon this coin have been supposed to represent Stephen and Henry, and the coin to have been struck in commemoration of the treaty of peace concluded between them at Wallingford in 1153. It has been remarked, that, had such been its object, the name of Henry, as well as that of Stephen, would have appeared upon the coin, whereas the legend is merely STIEFNE R. There is not a great deal of force in this remark, because the result of the treaty was to leave Stephen sole monarch during his life; he might, therefore, in the type allude to the union with his former enemy, and yet it would clearly have been incorrect to have put any other name but his own upon the coin. He acknowledged the peace, but asserted his own title. Still the evidence, and even the presumption, of its alluding to this peace is extremely slight. If any argument could be founded upon the type of a coin so rude in workmanship, we should venture upon a direct contradiction to the supposition that the figures were Stephen and Henry. It appears to us that one has long hair, the other short; one has the lower garments divided as trousers, the other closed like a petticoat; and we also think we can perceive an attempt of the artist to indicate the female form. This conjecture is thrown out for consideration of the Numismatists; we have no explanation to offer, except that possibly the two figures represent Stephen and his wife Matilda, and that it may have been struck when she commanded the army, which defeated his enemies and procured his liberation. These pieces are of good silver, and extremely rare. There are two in the Brit. Mus., and another was sold at Bentham's sale, 1838 for 16. to Mr. Spurrier, at whose sale, the same year, it was sold for 11..5s. The Pembroke collection has one, but a fragment. Pt. i. pl. iv.

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