House of Stuart & The Commonwealth AD 1603-1685

Medieval House of Stuart coins for sale.

Following the accession of James VI Stuart of Scotland to the English throne in 1603 as James I, the royal titles and coat of arms on the coinage was altered accordingly. Reduction of the weight of the gold pound in 1604 led to the issue of a new coin, the Unite. This was later replaced in 1619 by a lighter twenty shilling piece, the Laurel.
Notable also was the introduction of copper farthings struck under licence granted to Lord Harington of Exton in 1613, driven by public pressure for a low value coinage. The Duke of Lennox subsequently took over this authorisation.
During the reign of Charles I, a diverse coinage reflected political and economic changes. Good quality machine manufactured coins were produced by the frenchman Nicholas Briot, but the process was still not fast enough to replace hand striking. Noteworthy is that a mint to utilize Welsh mined silver was set up at Aberystwyth in 1637 and copper farthings continued to be privately minted under license by the Duchess of Richmond and subsequently the heir to the Earl of Arundel, Henry Howard (Lord Maltravers).
The English Civil War (AD 1642-1649) brought about the opening of mints in some provincial towns under Royalist control. Charles’ ‘Declaration’ of 1642 is shown abbreviated on many pieces minted at this time, known as ‘Declaration Pieces’. In addition, impressive, high value issues such as gold triple unites and silver pounds were produced. Also of note are the unusual-shaped emergency issues struck during the sieges of Newark, Pontefract and other towns.
Following the execution of Charles I, The Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, issued coins with English inscriptions. The Unite continued as the highest value gold coin and the crown in silver; the last silver halfpenny was issued during this period. Cromwell, as Lord Protector, authorised a series of machine produced portrait coins in gold, silver and copper, though few circulated.
Following the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II, the ancient process of hand hammered coining was finally superceded in 1663 by milling machines. Coins of Charles II struck in this way will be found in our ‘Milled coins’ section.

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