Irregular Postings on Coin Collecting & Numismatics - Both Canonical & Conanical

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Numismatists Do Not Fear Change

Coinage of King Charles I

Coinage of King Charles I

”These are coins of Charles I …

– The Adventure of The Musgrave Ritual (MUSG)

Charles I
Charles I

When we became king we believed that we had Divine Authority to rule as we deemed best for my subjects.  Some, convinced otherwise, became members of Parliament and blocked legislation for which we had asked support.

Our first crowns and half-crowns were of fine silver and bore the reverse legend CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO  From the start my coins were very like those of my father, James I, whom we had succeeded, avowing that we reigned under the authority of God. They were hand struck (hammered), the same denominations, the same standards of fineness for gold and silver, with portraits and legends alone changed to reflect my name and titles.

1631 Silver Crown of Charles I by Briot ~ Notice the fully round, sharply and evenly struck product

In 1631 we invited Nicholas Briot, a talented French die sinker, to join my mint staff at the Tower Mint.  His techniques and technical mastery resulted in coins of outstanding uniformity, quality and beauty. Unfortunately, the machinery required to produce these “milled” coins could not make sufficient coins to meet growing demand in a timely manner.

1642 Gold Triple Unite (60 Shillings)
1642 Gold Triple Unite (60 Shillings)

By the early 1640’s Parliament’s intransigence forced us to seek popular support elsewhere in the country.  Briot had moved to the Edinburgh mint, and designed minting equipment for use in our provincial mints at Shrewsbury and York.  Oxford supported our cause strongly and produced one of our treasured coins, a gold “Triple Unite” of 60 shillings.  Our strong, powerful portrait is surrounded by our name and titles: CAROLVS.D.G.MAGN.BRIT.FRAN.ET.HIB.REX  {Charles, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland King}; the reverse bears my plea: EXVRGAT.DEVS.ET.DISSIPENTVR.INIMICI.EIVS {Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered}.   The central design is an abbreviated statement of the ‘Declaration’ of our cause: RELIGIO PROTESTANTIVM LEGES ANGLIAE LIBERTAS PARLIAMENT: {The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of the Parliament}

1643 Newark Siege Half Crown
1643 Newark Siege Silver Half Crown

Sadly, Parliament chose to raise armed forces to pursue us, their Divinely empowered king, thereby initiating a Civil War. Lacking military forces and leadership,, we and our supporters roamed the country seeking them as well as supplies of gold and silver. While we must give credit to the Parliamentarian forces for their continuance of striking our coins of good metal and bearing my likeness, it is our provincial supporters who sustained our cause so generously.  Many ‘contributed’ their coins, their treasure,even their silver and gold services and jewels.  Crude though some of the coins they struck were, their faith and trust is clear.   Some, like those from Newark, were lozenge-shaped pieces cut directly from silver plate – even showing a hallmark in rare instances, and a denomination and date stamped on them. We are proud and grateful for the generosity and widespread support of our loyal citizens in such widespread strongholds as Truro, Exeter, Bristol, Worcester, York, Oxford, Aberystwyth,  Carlisle, Shrewsbury, even tiny Ashby de la Zouch and Bridgenorth-on-Severn.

1648 Pontefract Siege Silver Shilling
1648 Pontefract Siege Silver Shilling

Our cause was right, but our strength was lacking, and by mid-1648 our final refuge at Pontefract was taken.  And it is to these staunch defenders that we owe admiration for our favorite coin dated 1648:  their besieged castle is struck on a neatly cut silver lozenge, with our final message  girding our initials: C R (Carolvs Rex).  My pledge?  DVM SPIRO SPERO  – While I breathe, I hope.

In faith

Charles, your King

FittsArthur M. Fitts, III, an 1975 appointee to the United States Assay Commission, was the Museum Curator for the American Numismatic Association 1974-1978. A past President of the Boston Numismatic Society, Fitts is a columnist for ANA’s The Numismatist and served as one of its Governors from 2001-2005. He, along with his wife Prue, were honored with ANA’s highest honor, the Farran Zerbe Award, in 2012. Fitts manages a coin shop in Newtonville, Massachusetts, and is a dedicated collector of English hammered coins, U.S. type coins, Colorado “good-for’s,” and hometown tokens and currency.

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