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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
Mary (1553-1558)

Table of Contents

MARY, 1553 TO 1558.

Queen Mary succeeded to the throne on the 6th of July, 1553, and although she debased the silver coins, she completed the restoration of the standard of the gold coins, which her brother had so nearly accomplished, by abolishing the coins of “crown gold,” which had been made under the indenture of 1552. By a proclamation of the 20th August, 1553, and an indenture of the same date made with Thomas Egerton, Thomas Stanley, and others, it was ordered that the gold coins to be thenceforth made were to be the sovereign, which was to be current for 30s; the half-sovereign, to be called the royal of gold, and to be current for 15s; the angel at 10s; and the half-angel at 5s. All to be of fine gold, i.e., of the old standard, 23 cts. 3½ grs. fine gold to ½gr. alloy. By a proclamation of the 4th of March, 1553-4, the following foreign gold coins were made current throughout the kingdom, and were ordered to be paid and received, on pain of imprisonment, at the rates fixed, namely, the French crown of the sun at 6s 4d; the crown of the Emperor’s coin at the same rate; the double ducat of Spain, with two faces, at 13s 4d; the single ducat at 6s 8d; provided in all cases they were of just standard, weight, and fineness. And to these were added by a proclamation of May 4th, 1554, three Portuguese coins—the single crusade, with the long cross, at 6s 8d; the same with the short cross, at the same rate; and the pistolett at 6s 2d. The following are the descriptions of the coins struck by virtue of the indenture of 1553. They are all rare.

SOVEREIGNS. Value 30s. Weight 240 grs. Standard fineness. Obv. exactly like the sovereigns of the third coinage of Edward VI, but with the queen’s figure substituted for the king’s, and with no MM. Rev. Shield with arms as usual upon a large double rose, within the inner circle. 1. : MARIA :: D : G : FRA Z : HIB : REGINA : M : D : LIII. Rev. A : DNO FACTV ° EST : ISTV ° Z : EST : MIRA ° OCVL : NRIS ° A pomegranate, the badge of the house of Aragon from which the queen’s mother was descended, is placed after Maria and Dno. Rud. ix. 1. MB. 2. Same, but with two annulets after Nris. MB. 3. Same as 1, but a half-rose instead of pomegranate after Maria and Dno, dots instead of annulets on rev., one dot after Dno, none after In, two after Nris. MB. 4. Same as last, but legends : MARIA : : D.G. ANG. FRA. Z: HIBERNIE : REGINA: Rev. A DNO. FACTV. EST: ISTV. Z: EST : MIRA. IN OCVL : NRIS: (78) MB. 5. Similar to 1, but date MDLIIII. RASHLEIGH. Unique?

RYAL. Value 15s. Weight 120 grs. Standard fineness. Obv. Queen standing in a ship, full face, crowned; her right hand holds a sword, her left supports a shield bearing the arms of France and England. Above her head is the top-castle, below which is a yard-arm and sail. Two ropes from the mast to the stern, four to the prow, which is on the queen’s right. At the prow is a flag marked M, and there is a rose on the side of the ship, which is ornamented by dots and one annulet. Legend as first sovereign. Pomegranate between two annulets after Maria, annulet after every other word except G, and after M and D. Rev, like the ryals of Edward IV and Henry VIII, within a double tressure of eight arches is a cross, the centre concealed by a rose upon a sun, the extremities corniced and ending in a lis between two cartouches; a lion, and a crown above him, in each quarter; the whole within an inner circle. A : DNO ° FACTV ° EST : ISTVD ° Z ° EST ° MIRABI ° IN : OCVL ° NRI ° Rud. ix. 2, where NRIS is erroneously substituted for NRI. (79) MB. Ext. rare. A fine specimen was sold for £63 at Capt. Murchison’s sale in 1864; and Mr. Cuff’s brought £80 in 1854. Collectors must beware of forgeries of this coin.

ANGELS. Value 10s. Weight 80 grs. Standard fineness. Type like those of Henry VIII and Edward VI, with M to left, rose to right of cross on rev. 1. MARIA :: D ° G ° ANG ° FRA ° Z : HIB ° REGIN ° Rev. A ° DNO ° FACTV ° EST : ISTVD Z ° EST : MIRABI ° Z ° This last Z is an abbreviation for etcetera. Pomegranate after Maria and after Istud. Rud. ix. 3, where the stops are not accurately marked. MB. 2. Same, but REGI for Regin, annulet before Maria, only one after it. THORBURN. 3. As 2, with annulet also before A, only one after the first Est, two before the second Est, one at end of rev, legend. MB. 4. As 1, but dots instead of annulets, one dot each side of each pomegranate, REGINA, one dot before A and after each word on rev. MB. 5. As 1, but the legend on the obverse is entirely in Roman letters, and reads REGI. Half-rose? after Maria, dot after every other word on obv. Rev. Pomegranate between two dots after Istud, dot before A and after every word. EVANS. On all her other coins most of the letters are old English. Rare.

HALF-ANGELS. Value 5s. Weight 40 grs. Standard fineness. Type as the angels. MARIA D ° G ° A ° Z ° HIB ° REGI. Rev. A ° DNO ° FACTV ° EST °° ISTVD : Z : (for etcetera). Pomegranate after Maria and Est. (80) MB. Rud. ix. 4, where the stops are slightly different. Very rare. Capt. Murchison’s sold for £51, but Mr. Cuff went for £5. 5s.

The queen was married to Philip of Spain on the 25th of July, 1554, and as he was given the title of King of England, the legends of the coins had to be altered. This was done by virtue of a Proclamation of the 26th of December following, but the coins with the altered legend are rare. Philip is said to have brought with him to England an enormous quantity of coined gold and silver as well as of bullion, and it may be that these foreign coins, having a legal currency by virtue of the proclamations of the March and May previous, made it unnecessary to under take any large coinage of English gold. The only gold coins known of Philip and Mary are angels and half-angels.

ANGELS. Similar in all respects to the previous ones, but with P and M, instead of M and rose, to left and right of cross on reverse, and having a lis for MM both on obv. and rev. The legends are, 1. PHILIP. Z. MARIA. D. G. REX. Z. REGIN. Rev. A. DNO. FACTVM. EST. ISTVD. Z. EST. MIRABI. MB. 2. Legend same, but REGINA, MIRABILE. Two dots between every word on obv., one after Regina, before and after A, and after Dno and Z; two after Factum, Est, Istud, and Est. (81) Rud. ix. 5. MB. 3. Same as 1, but REGINA. A, MIRAB. Two dots after Z, Maria, Factum, Istud, Z, Est. None after Mirab. THORBURN. 4. Same as last, but REGINA : AN., MIRABILE. Dot between all the words and after An, two after Z, Maria, Z, Regina, Factum, Est, and Istud. MB. Rare.

HALF-ANGEL. Exactly like the angels. PHILIP. Z. MARIA. D. G. REX. Z. REGI, Rev. A. DNO. FACTVM. EST. ISTVD. Z. EST. MIR (82) Rud. ix. 6. MB. Rare. Money for the use of King Philip’s foreign dominions seems also to have been coined at the Tower during this reign. See Strype’s “Annals,” vol. i. p. 27.

Sov Ryal Angel ½ Angel
Pomegranate in legends + + +
Pomegranate in obv. legend
Half-rose in legends +
Half-rose on obv. pomegranate on rev. Evans
Lis + +

Edward VI (1546-1553) | Table of Contents | Elizabeth (1558-1602)

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