A new and "unique" coin found for The Reading mint.
(Revised 28th November 1999 & 4th September 2001)
by Mike R. Vosper.
On October 6th I was attending the mid-week Commonwealth Coin Show, going about my business as usual, when mid-way through the day a detectorist turned up with the usual detector finds. He showed me what he had and I scanned through them. when there it was, a scallop in one quarter with c25% missing (what a shame). We all know that even a damaged specimen of this mint is difficult to find. I asked what he wanted for it while turning the coin over and could not believe my eyes. When he told me, I promptly purchased the specimen. I later found out that 3 other dealers had turned the coin down, all be it at a higher price!!
Can you, from the plate below, work out what makes the coin a new and "unique" coin from The Reading Mint??
Obv:- [+E]DWAR R AnGL D[nS hYB], bust of late Edward II style (cl.15c).
Rev:- VIL:|LA R|[ADI|N]GY, scallop shell in 1st quarter (of strange style compared to the 'Florin' scallop). Note the unusual feature of the colon in VIL:LA, also the N looking like it might be of Roman form.
How did you do? Well I'll help you work this one out.
Firstly:- The bust is of late Edward II style (cl.15c), large face resembling that of cl.15a but squarer.
Secondly:- The obverse legend is [+E]DWAR R AnGL D[nS hYB] with a lombardic 'n'.
Thirdly:- The lettering type (obv. & rev.) is peculiar to the 1st Coinage of Edward III.
So, as you can see we have some pointers to what it is. The bust is of late Edward II or early III style, the lombardic 'n's only occurring on the 1st Coinage of Edward III with its own particular lettering. So there you have, it must be a '1st Coinage Style' penny of Edward III from The Reading Mint, which some of you will know doubt know is so far unrecorded. See 3rd (Florin) Coinage Penny from The Reading Mint below for comparison of bust, legends and general style.
You will have noticed that the bust and legend style is very different from the 1st Coinage style Pennies.
This brings me onto another point, the dating of this new '1st Coinage style' Penny from The Reading Mint.(See revision below)
Coinage periods of Edward III - 1st Coinage 1327-35, 2nd 'Star marked' Coinage 1335-43, 3rd 'Florin' Coinage 1344-51.
Firstly:- The first time Reading Pennies are recorded, are for the 3rd ('Florin') Coinage dated 1344-51. Reading also struck Halfpennies (and farthings if struck as none are known) at the baser standard of 0.833 fineness, 1335-43. We also know pennies were never struck at any mint during 1335-43 bearing any major design changes (i.e 'star' marked 2nd Coinage style) but carried on using the 1st Coinage style punches and dies. This is due to the extremely low out put of unprofitable sterling pennies, thus the punches used to replace worn out dies did not need replacement.
Secondly:- According to all the known coins, Reading was not active at all in the 1st Coinage of Edward III, 1327-35, but was active in the 2nd 'star' marked Coinage striking Halfpennies (and farthings, if any turn up).
Thirdly:- The first time Reading had received a penny die was in 1339, and as stated above 1st Coinage punches were used to produce any penny dies made in the 2nd Coinage.
Conclusion:- What we have is, in-fact, a new mint to be added to the list of the 6 already known mints (London, Canterbury, Bury St. Edmunds, Berwick, Durham and York) striking in the '1st Issue style', but Reading was actually striking in the 2nd Coinage of Edward III, thus a True 2nd Coinage penny of the period 1335 to 1343 (Reading 1339-43).
E-Mails and information received regarding The new Reading Penny
We have received several comments about this penny, one in particular seems to explain the circumstances in which the penny was struck. The coin is currently undergoing other tests (content of silver etc.) at The Fitzwilliam Museum by Martin Allan. Martin has made the following suggestions as to the circumstances of issue:-
According to Ruding and also Fox & Shirley-Fox the Reading Abbey's minting rights were revived in a charter 1338 with the additional concession of the right to have dies for halfpence and farthings. The writ of 26th August 1338, re-issued on the 8th November, cited the charter and instructed The Exchequer to supply die's for pence, halfpence and farthings. A second writ of 17th November 1338 required the warden of the London mint to supply the dies by 25th November - with marks, inscription specified by the abbot. On 22nd of February 1339 a final writ to The Exchequer stated that the abbot and monks of Reading had received their penny die, and it ORDERED the delivery of halfpenny and farthing dies being kept by The Exchequer. Jeffrey North has suggested that the Reading Abbey received the unprecedented right to mint these coins (halfpennies and farthings at 0.833 fineness) because the minting of sterling silver pence was unprofitable due to the increasing cost of silver bullion. The Fox brothers noted the probable unprofitability of minting pence in Reading before the weight reduction of 1344, but they predicted that a Reading penny from the dies of 1338 would be found. The prediction has been proved with the above mentioned coin.
Rod Blunt very kindly sent me an E-mail in which he stated:- With reference to your intriguing Reading mint penny, the following passage is taken from page 119 of G.C.Brooke's 'English Coinage': "In 1338 the Abbot of Reading received a grant which, unlike that of previous holders, included the striking of halfpence and farthings. Early in the following year he had received a penny die only, which in the circumstances was useless to him; he DEMANDED dies for smaller coins and was given immediate delivery. Reading halfpence and farthings are known of this period, but pence are only known of 1344-1351". In my reply I stated that Brooke's statement was incorrect, in the respect of the farthing, as none are known of the 'star-marked' coinage (2nd Coinage). I noted in Brook's statement that when the penny die was received that "he DEMANDED dies" for the halfpence & farthing where as Fox and Shirly-Fox state "and it ORDERED the delivery of (halfpence & farthing dies)", I wonder which statement is true.
It's interesting to note that as we know it's a Class 15d of the 1st Coinage type, but the die for the penny at the Reading mint were not received until 1339, well into the 2nd Coinage and so is the first penny truly belonging to the 2nd Coinage.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Rod Blunt and particularly Martin Allan for there kind input on this subject.
Mike. R. Vosper
THE BRITISH NUMISMATIC JOURNAL, Vol. 69 1999.
SHORT ARTICLES, page 214. AN EDWARD III CLASS 15d PENNY OF READING by Martin Allen and Mike R. Vosper.
For detailed information on the coin and its circumstances of production.
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