• Section Contents
  • British Copper Coinage: Introduction
  • British Silver Coinage: Introduction

    English Coins


    Over the centuries the denominations of English coins have changed several times. During the period corresponding to the early colonization of America, that is, during the rules of James I (1603-1625) and Charles I (1625-1649) coins were hammer struck rather than milled, with several denominations remaining from the Tudor era. Small copper change was supplemented by privately minted trade tokens in halfpenny and farthing sizes. Under Charles II several denominations were retired and new ones created with the introduction of milled coinage. Thus there is a basic change in English coinage around 1663. For the American colonial era we need to be aware of both the older and the revised versions.

    A listing of Hammer and Milled denominations follows. For a brief discussion for each coin denomination minted in England during the American colonial period from James I through George III Click here.

    I. Hammer Struck Coinage

    Hammer struck coins produced at the royal English mints during the American colonial period from the reign of James I up to the first few years of Charles II were as follow:



    GOLD
    Triple Unite(60s)
    Unite Laurel Pound(20s)
    Rose Ryal(22s)
    Spur Ryal(16s6d)
    Half Laurel(10s) (gold and silver)
    Angel(6s8d)
    Crown(5s)
    Half Angel(3s4d)
    Half Crown(2s6d) (gold and silver)


    SILVER
    Shilling(12d)
    Sixpence(6d)
    Groat(4d)
    Threepence(3d)
    Halfgroat(2d)
    Penny(1d)
    Halfpence(1/2d)


    COPPER
    Farthing(1/4d)


    II. Milled Coinage

    Milled coinage, that is, high quality coins of uniform size and shape produced on a press using finely milled blank planchets, were produced on a limited basis by Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth (1649-1660). Under Charles II milled coin production greatly expanded and several coin denoinations were revised. In fact, for several denominations Charles II produced the last hammered version of a particular coin, during 1660-1662, as well as the first milled version of the coin, during the later 1660's. Milled hand press coinage continued to be produced in England through the remainder of the American colonial period. It was not until the very end of the Eighteenth Century that the next major innovation occurred, namely the invention of the steam powered coining press at Matthew Bolton's Soho mint in Birmingham.

    The basic milled coins produced at the English royal mints from Charles II (1660-1685) through the era of the American Revolution during the reign of George III (1760-1820) were as follows:

    GOLD
    Five Guineas105s =£5 5s
    Two Guineas42s = £2 2s
    Guinea21s = £1 1s
    Half Guinea10s6d


    SILVER
    Crown5s
    Halfcrown2s6d
    Shilling12d
    Sixpence
    Fourpence
    Threepence
    Twopence
    Penny


    COPPER
    Halfpence
    Farthing

    For a brief discussion for each coin denomination minted in England during the American colonial period from James I through George III Click here.


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    Department of Special Collections, 102 Hesburgh Library,
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