Sign up for the monthly zoom events by sending a PM with your email address to Hitesh

Main Menu

Elizabeth I pennies, 5th issue (1582-1600)

Started by FosseWay, June 11, 2012, 09:48:33 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


I have what I thought were two of these (Spink 2580), illustrated below. 7358 appears to have mintmark 54 (Gothic A with no cross bar) and 8057 has a clear tun (mm 123), dating them to 1582-4 and 1591-5 respectively. So far, so good.

But they vary considerably in size and weight, despite neither showing notable evidence of having been clipped (the legends are reasonably complete). 7358 is 16.9 mm and 0.88 g, while 8057 is 13.8 mm and 0.46 g. I'm a bit confused -- always have been, in fact -- by the way Spink gives weights, but I'm figuring that since a shilling in the fifth issue is supposed to be 96 grains, a penny should be 8 grains, or a shade over 0.5 g. But I may well be misinterpreting that, and in any case I don't know whether we're dealing with troy or avoirdupois grains.

But either way, if the small one is the right weight for a penny, what is the big one, and if the big one is right, what is the small one? In both cases the twopence or the halfpenny that theoretically could be involved have radically different designs.


Do you have a three halfpence piece there? Note threre was also a 3 farthing piece in the mix here and sometimes things get lumped into pennies.


According to Spink neither the threehalfpence nor the threefarthings was issued in the fifth series. Unless there is something seriously wrong with my identification or the Tower Mint's use of mintmarks, the marks on these coins definitely point to the fifth issue.

In the earlier coinages where all the intermediate denominations were struck, a useful rule of thumb is that all the threes go together (threefarthings, threehalfpence and threepence) and the others go together (penny, twopence, groat), in the sense that the 'three' series generally have a rose behind Elizabeth's head and the date on the reverse, while the others have neither. Without this aid, it would indeed be very difficult to tell them apart. Even as it is, threefarthings and threehalfpences can be confused if clipped.

Weightwise, as far as I can tell the only remotely likely alternative for these two is that the larger one is a twopence, but this should have two pellets behind Elizabeth's head and, AFAIK, should have her full titles (not the ROSA SINE SPINA text that's on the pennies). On the latter point I'm not 100% sure though, as my copy of Spink infuriatingly neither illustrates nor reproduces verbatim the legend for the twopence in question (S2579).


I have my copy of Seaby somewhere but it is short on measurement and weight details. I'll go looking after dinner.


Quote from: akona20 (Old Man) on June 11, 2012, 09:59:15 AM
Do you have a three halfpence piece there? Note threre was also a 3 farthing piece in the mix here and sometimes things get lumped into pennies.

We can rule out both of these - they were dated and had a rose behind the portrait.
Fifth issue two pence should have two pellets behind the portrait....

Looking in Coincraft I'm surprised to find that the weights are not given!
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....


I was wrong about the legend on the obverse of the fifth series twopence. It should be E D G ROSA SINE SPINA, the same as for the penny. There is an illustration in Coincraft where there isn't in Seaby.

Looking at the coin itself and at the high-res scan from which the upper picture in this thread was taken, I could almost convince myself there were indeed two pellets behind the portrait, but I'm not sure whether I'm convincing myself that they're there because the other characteristics suggest it's not a penny...

I'm therefore beginning to wonder whether the larger one is in fact a twopence. The clincher would be to find some cast iron (or sterling silver) info on how much the penny and twopence should weigh.


The bigger coin is I woulod suggest a half groat ( 2 pence). Theoretical weight from memory should be around .9 g. and around 17mm


Thanks akona -- my coin is 16.9 mm and 0.88 g, and you can't ask for much closer than that with 450-year-old hammered coins! A twopence it is.