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    Coins and Medals of the English Civil War by Edward Besly

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    The second edition of this book presents a new and expanded exploration of the unusually varied coinage and currency of the ‘Great Rebellion’ of 1642-1660, a pivotal period in British history. It builds on further research available since its original publication in 1990, notably a fresh appraisal of the West Country mints of Sir Richard Vyvyan and new insights into the numerous hoards of the time. Along the way, we meet more of the people who willingly or unwillingly did business with the wartime mints.


    Following a description of the currency in circulation in 1642 and a survey of the organisation of royalist minting during the war, the royalist mint-franchises are considered in turn. Foreign coinage, siege issues and the emergency coinages of Ireland are all described; and the story of the Tower Mint under Parliament is followed through the Interregnum of 1649-60 to the Restoration of Charles II. Minting methods at a time of transition from manual to mechanised production form an important subsidiary theme.


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    Charles I (1625-1649), Chester mint, mm. three pellets on obv. only, crowned bust left with lace collar, rev. crowned oval shield with lion-skin garniture, 5.57g/6h (Lyall d/vi; Sharp, BNJ 1982, p.246, 2, and DNW 144, lot 210, same dies; SCBI Brooker –; N 2630/1; S 3133A). Struck from oversized dies on an irregular but full-weight flan, small scuff behind head and a surface crack on reverse, otherwise good very fine or better and excessively rare £20,000-£26,000

    Provenance: Sold with a scrap of paper inscribed in pencil “Scarboro’ Antique Shop, £4.10., March ‘65”.

    This extremely rare coin would seem to be part of an emergency coinage struck during the siege of Chester in order to pay the troops. Although the correct size and weight for a shilling, the inner circles on both sides are larger than normal. With a diameter of 24mm, the obverse die is of unusually detailed workmanship for a silver issue and cut in deeper relief than normal. It may have been intended for the striking of a gold coin and, in fact, the portrait bears a considerable resemblance to the unite illustrated as SCBI Brooker 1110. The reverse inner circle measures 26mm and the die is recorded by Lyall as being used on his halfcrown b/ii. As at other mints during the Civil War, the coins bear direct witness to the extraordinary circumstances at the time they were struck.


    To be Sold on: 5th & 6th June 2019

    Estimate: £20,000 - £26,000




    Edited by bigjarofwasps
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    The Trial and Acquittal of John Lilburne, London, 1649, a silver medal, unsigned [by D. Ramage], draped bust left, iohn lilborne saved by the power of the lord and the integrity of his ivry, etc, rev. myles petty ste iles abr smith ion king, etc around central rose, 34mm, 12.94g (MI I, 385/3; E 177). About very fine and toned, very rare, and with an interesting provenance; the first major work by David Ramage £1,000-£1,400

    The Trial and Acquittal of John Lilburne, London, 1649, a silver medal, unsigned [by D. Ramage], draped bust left, iohn lilborne saved by the power of the lord and the integrity of his ivry, etc, rev. myles petty ste iles abr smith ion king, etc around central rose, 34mm, 12.94g (MI I, 385/3; E 177). About very fine and toned, very rare, and with an interesting provenance; the first major work by David Ramage £1,000-£1,400

    Provenance: SNC March 1968 (2156); I.R. Lilburn Collection; SNC February 2008 (CM 1153).

    Ian Robertson Lilburn (1927-2013), Coull House, Aberdeenshire, was a direct descendant of John Lilburn (1740-99) of Tweedmouth, who in turn was said to be descended from one of Lilburne’s 10 children.

    John Lilburne (1614-57), a Puritan who converted to the Quaker religion in the year before his death, fought for the Parliamentarians in the Civil War and was present at Edge Hill and Marston Moor, although between these two engagements he had been captured by royalists while in the parliamentary garrison at Brentford. An agitator for the the freeborn rights of Englishmen, he spent most of the later 1640s incarcerated in the Tower for denouncing his former military commander, the Earl of Manchester, as a royalist sympathiser. A campaign to free him spawned a new political party, the Levellers, which had a strong following in the New Model Army although Lilburne had begun to see the reality of life under Cromwell’s diktat and his supporters actively agitated for King Charles’s son, in exile in France, to finance the Leveller movement. Parliament passed a motion for Lilburne to be tried for high treason, as the King had been, but unlike the case of the monarch, a jury of 12 would decide Lilburne’s fate. The trial, which started on 24 October 1649, lasted two days and the jury, whose names are on the reverse of the medal, found him not guilty. For the next two years Lilburne remained politically inactive, but after a dispute concerning the ownership of collieries in his native co Durham, he was sentenced to pay a fine of £3,000 to the state and was banished for life.

    To be Sold on: 5th & 6th June 2019

    Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400


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    The Prestbury Civil War Hoard, 2004

    This hoard was found on 15 June 2004 by Jason Scott in the course of his digging footings for a barn conversion at Prestbury, Cheshire. Totalling 1,366 coins, its content is typical of so many Civil War deposits, being mainly comprised of silver halfcrowns, shillings and sixpences from the coinages of Edward VI to Charles I. Also included are groats of Mary, Philip and Mary and Elizabeth I, again not unusual, together with some threepences of Elizabeth I. These denominations were in daily use whereas higher denominations were not and minor denominations were deemed unsuitable for hoarding. However, the hoard contains one gold coin, a laurel of James I, and some Scottish and Irish coins, mostly of James VI/I. The Tudor pieces are generally much worn from their years in circulation; most of the Scottish and Irish coins are bent, some coins have been clipped and others corroded from contact with soil. Their face value amounts to almost £43, a significant sum at the time.

    Large hoards from these turbulent times usually reveal items of interest and rarity and this hoard does not disappoint in that respect. Worthy of mention are a shilling of James I, mm. mullet over key on obverse, which omits the intervening bell mark (lot 57); an extremely rare sixpence of 1615 (lot 62); a previously unrecorded sixpence of 1616 (lot 63); two very rare Tower shiIIings of Charles I, mm. harp, with plume above the shield on the reverse (lots 109 and 11 0); a shilling from an obverse of Briot's hammered coinage muled with an ordinary Tower reverse (lot 148) and the only coin from a provincial mint, a sixpence struck at Aberystwyth (lot 149). There are also some contemporary forgeries (lot 150).

    The land on which the find was made is known to have been owned by Thomas Legh, the Royalist High Sheriff of Cheshire, a prominent landowner who resided at Adlington Hall, Macclesfield. It was likely leased to a tenant farmer. The most recent coins bear the mintmark triangle-in-circle, in use 1641-3, suggesting this a very early deposit. On 15 July 1642, a month and a week before the King raised his Standard at Nottingham, the Royalist Lord Strange entered Manchester, predominantly of Parliamentarian persuasion, with a small body of his men and a fracas ensued, a precursor to the troubled times in store. In September Strange, by then Earl of Derby following the recent death of his father, laid siege to Manchester. This was something of an anti-climax from a Royalist standpoint and the reluctance of the Cheshire levies to serve outside of their own county doubtless had its effect. It might be reasonable to suggest this hoard was deposited at that time.

    The hoard was contained in a cylindrical jar, found in six fragments, thought contemporary and of local manufacture in the Northwest Purple tradition. It was declared Treasure at an inquest held on 19 October 2004 and released to the finder, who has retained a few of the coins as mementos, earlier this year.

    Witch coin 009.jpg

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