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1594-1596 Elizabeth I Half-Groat (2d)

Started by UK Decimal +, April 15, 2011, 04:02:57 PM

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UK Decimal +

I'm moving back in time and starting to collect pre-1816 hammered and milled "small coins", which are mainly silver Groats down to Farthings.   This means that I have a lot to learn, even down to reading the legends used in medieval times.

To start with, here, I believe, is a Half-Groat of Elizabeth I (1558-1603).   I will try to say how I have come to my conclusions of attribution and hope that, if I have anything wrong, you will tell me (and I'm sure that you will!).

First, the details.    Diameter is 16.5 to 17 mm and weight 12.0 grains (0.78 grams).   The weight "new" should be 16 grains (1.04g), but in view of the wear my one at 12.0 seems acceptable.   The silver "fineness" should be ∙925.   The wording appears to be Obv:  E:D:G : ROSA SINE SPINA  (a rose withhout a thorn) and Rev: CIVI_TAS_LON_DON .

How do I know that is is a Half-Groat?   There are two "pellets" behind the Queen's head, denoting two-pence.

I have dated it as 1594-1596 because there appears to be a "Woolpack" mintmark, which is best described as a solid square with an "X" across it, at the start of the obverse legend.

I hope that the scans will show enough detail to enable you to check my deductions.   Any further information would be appreciated.


Ilford, Essex, near London, England.

People look for problems and complain.   Engineers find solutions but people still complain.


The two pellets were only used for the Fifth and Sixth issues of Elizabeth I half-groats.  The mintmark is indeed a woolpack, indicating 1594-6 for all of her coins.

The threepence is very similar in size, but had a rose behind the Queen's head, and furthermore is dated.


The threepence, sixpence and shilling of this series are often found by Dutch metal detectorists. This is simply because the Dutch tried to get Elizabeth to become queen of the Netherlands after the murder of William the Silent, a position she adamantly and wisely refused. She did allow her ambitious friend and councillor Sir Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester to take the title of governor-general. He brought 500 troops, apparently paid in English money. The English and Scottish soldiers were a disaster. They lost a string of battles and cities to the Habsburgs, some by betrayal, without scoring a single victory. The English intervention ended in much ill will in 1587.

The metal detector finds show that the half groat was not a popular denomination, at least among the soldiers. They also show that Elizabeth had been able to supplant the bad and light coins of Henry VIII with her own, lighter but good quality coins. This may explain why the coins of Elizabeth are much cheaper than those of Henry and why they are very often quite worn.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.