Oliver Cromwell

"The Commonwealth" (1649 - 60)


You may find this comprehensive information website useful:  http://www.SunandAnchor.com




Oliver Cromwell (Milled) Read about Oliver Cromwell


WCom-5686:  1658 Oliver Cromwell Milled Silver Halfcrown.  Rare Dutch copy, late 1600’s to very early 1700’s, cast from the Simon dies.  The coin is unusual in two aspects:  Firstly, the amount of wear indicates the coin was passed into circulation.  These Dutch copies were intended to supply collectors with Cromwell coins rather than be used as currency.  Very few coins were available at this time due to the unpopularity of Cromwell after the Restoration.  It is recorded that of the small number of coins that were not recalled by the mint, many were deliberately defaced.  Interestingly, I have never seen such a defaced Cromwell coin, in the same way that I have never seen a contemporary counterfeit Henry 1st penny (BMC 6-14), although the mint at the time obviously thought it was a problem because they officially cut every coin leaving the mint to show the public the coin was silver.  Being cast after the Protectorate, the Cromwell halfcrown would not have circulated in the UK so presumably passed into European circulation, being just a lump of silver in that market place.  Secondly, and more interestingly, this coin is 11.98 grams.  It is also a smaller flan by a mm or so.  As a cast silver coin, it is difficult to understand how you could create a smaller, lighter coin from the original.  The nature of casting dictates like for like.  Double shillings or Florins were issued in this later Dutch / Tanner period.  Although they are recorded as being double thickness shillings, it is extremely interesting to note that the weight of these florins was 12g, exactly the same weight as this coin.  Further research required on this intriguing coin.  £1,125




Commonwealth (Hammered)


Hammered Gold





Hammered Silver


Full Crowns


WCom-7797:  1653 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Full Crown.  Initial mark Sun, Spink 3215.  Cromwell was adamant he wasn’t going to be “kinglike” so his portrait was absent on all hammered coinage (we’ll gloss over what happened with the new milled coinage of 1656 and 1658!) which made for a very different looking kind of currency.  Points of interest are:

1.  The reverse V in VS is very much a recycled, inverted (upside own) letter A.  An accidental oversight?  Just time & effort saving?  Or a die sinker’s identification marker?  There’s a Ph.D to be had there!!

2.  There are a total of three obverse letter Os in OF, one atop the other, indicating that this coin had been struck at least three times.  It’s a nice indication as to how these things were made – this was a lot of cold silver to get the die impression onto.  I’d have thought that four strikes, each time rotating the die and planchet around by 90 degrees, hoping to not get a double / triple strike, would be a minimum.  Maybe this employee was very good at what he did, or perhaps he really did hit the coin four times and we just can’t see the fourth time?  Many of you will be aware of the bevelled appearance seen particularly on Charles 1st halfcrowns, which again is an indication of this multi rotational strike process.

The inverted A in VS rates at R3 (“extremely rare”) in Spink’s ESC – remember that when you look in the standard Spink price guide, everything is priced to the commonest possible variety.  Being of close to full weight, this is a nice grade, unadulterated, honest example of the highest silver Commonwealth denomination.  The toning is steely grey with hints of lustre, although I have to admit to metaphorically murdering this coin in my woeful photographic representation – this one is perhaps more illustrative.  Commonwealth coinage was primarily London-centric with the Shires using whatever they could get their hands on, not that there was much wealth evident outside of London during those austere years.  Everyday shire-currency was predominantly Charles 1st and earlier.  It is rare for metal detectors to unearth anything above a Commonwealth halfgroat but I’m fairly sure than there has never been a Commonwealth crown discovered in this fashion, just as there has never been such a coin discovered in a British hoard.  This coin has been residing in an extremely long-standing collection and is thus fresh to the market.  £4,375






WCom-7854:  1649 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Shilling.  Initial mark Sun, struck London (Commonwealth coinage, particularly the early, larger denominations, was fairly London-centric in their circulation anyway), Spink 3217.  It is interesting to note that being the very first date in Cromwell's "non reign", the design was perhaps more style over substance.  In subsequent years, although clearly not in 1650, more thought was put into the die design in order to produce a better all-round coin - no pun intended.  To all intents and purposes, this 1649 design is unique to this single year, albeit extremely subtle to the uneducated eye!  I strongly recommend you browse the excellent Sun & Anchor website which is dedicated to Commonwealth coinage.  Regarding the reference on the ticket to the "Shove Groat" game: until fairly recently, and it may even still be going somewhere today, shove hapenny was a pub game.  I'm aware of Edward VI fine silver shillings being used where the coin was always obverse down, thus attracting much more wear that side.  Incidentally, these coins, and coins of a similar period as well, are sometimes marked in the fields with graffiti - this is thought to be players of this parlour game putting their own identifying marks on their "gaming coins".  Shakespeare actually refers to Edward VI shillings being used in this way (The Merry Wives of Windsor) and the famous Stuart, self-named "Water Poet", John Taylor, wrote several lines about the Edward VI shove shilling game in his "Travailes of a Shilling" work (London, 1621).  However, I think it's a stretch to say this Commonwealth shilling has lived a life of  "Shove Groat" (groats were an earlier iteration of this game which were very much superseded by shillings): there was no obvious obverse on these coins (Cromwell was adamant he was not to appear monarch-like by having his portrait on coinage, at least until he had a change of heart in 1656! and 1658!) and I'm aware of no evidence that in a time when Edward VI coinage would still be circulating, especially outside of London, Commonwealth coins were used for this act.  It was the obverse or head being face down that was the important thing in the game, other than winning!!  So, probably nothing to do with any of the above (!), but none-the-less, a rarer, sought after year.  £585 RESERVED (M.He 12-9-23 Lay-Away)


WCom-6439:  1651 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Shilling.  A straight 51 obverse and reverse but no stop after THE making this the rare E.S.C 984.  £725


WCom-7216:  1651 Hammered Silver Commonwealth Shilling.  Initial mark Sun, Spink 3217.  A slightly better date and the rarer “no obverse stops” variety – see the excellent Sun & Anchor website (http://www.SunandAnchor.com) for a full list of varieties.  When looking at Spink for a price guide (and it’s very much a guide), their pricing is for commonest, non variety coins.  £725


WCom-6440:  1652 over 1 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Shilling.  A 1651 obverse with a 1651 altered date (51 to 52) reverse.  Also no stop after GOD making this an unlisted and unrecorded variety (see www.sunandanchor.com).  £785


WCom-6403:  1653 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Shilling.  Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth, initial mark Sun, 5.42g.  The obverse reads: COMMONWEATH [L missing] and there is no stop after THE.  The ticket states this is the recorded COMMONWEALH [T missing] variety which is E.S.C.989 (I’m told E.S.C. 130 in the revised edition?), rated at R4 rarity which means 11-20 known examples.  This coin is actually an E.S.C. unrecorded “missing L” variety.  If you look at the definitive guide to Commonwealth coinage (http://www.SunandAnchor.com), you will see both varieties listed and both having six star rarity values.  The COMMONWEATH die (this coin) also has the missing stop after THE whereas the missing T variety doesn’t.  A great rarity in the Commonwealth series being unrecorded in E.S.C. (Spink don’t bother listing any variations), full of flan and nice grade.  £895






WCom-7610:  1652 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Sixpence.  A most interesting coin being 1652 over 1651, over 1649 in date.  Spink 3219.  Further, the 6 of the date appears to be a large 6 over a reversed smaller 6, which I believe is unrecorded.  Further still, the right hand stop at the initial mark Sun is a small pellet over a large pellet.  The detailed accompanying ticket, whilst mentioning none of this, does draw attention to the D of ENGLAND being re-entered and off to one side.  This at first glance appears to be simply double striking but it’s actually not - if you look closely, the bottom D has a bottom right curving serif whilst the uppermost D has a corresponding angular serif.  They are very different letter D’s.  Again, unrecorded to my knowledge.  1652 is the year where many more shillings and halfcrowns were issued compared to sixpences.  The coin itself has been bent twice in antiquity, as so many were (often done with the teeth to gauge silver content), and subsequently straightened out.  Attractively toned both sides.  As I initially said, a most interesting coin, not to mention grade.  £765


WCom-5912:  1654 over 3 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Sixpence.  Relatively full of flan – minimal clipping with an unusually clear date.  Spink 3219.  1654 is a rarer date and in a somewhat exclusive “less than 100 extant examples known” club.  Better still, this is the rarer 4 over 3 variety which E.S.C. rates at R2, around 32 known examples.  The coin has slight creasing probably due to the practise of biting the coin to see if it was genuine silver in the 1650’s.  Some toning.  £545 RESERVED (M.He 4-12-23 Lay-Away)


WCom-7928:  1656 over 52 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Sixpence - a most unusual coin!  Initial mark Sun so struck under the Protectorship of Oliver Cromwell – later Anchor coins were under his son, Richard Cromwell.  Spink 3219.  A 1656 sixpence but with only x6 harp strings, which simply can't be.  There is a 1656 variety with x8 harp strings but definitely not x6.  The answer is that this is actually a 1653 (or earlier) reverse that has been dug out of the used die bucket and purposefully altered (ie a Cromwellian form of recycling!) in date to become 1656.  Looking at the date itself, there are very odd things going off with the "5" (there are two DIFFERENT "5" punches, one overstruck on the other, and possibly a third, although that third one may be simply down to double striking).  Also, the second "6" looks to be a thin "6" over a fatter "6".  The final "6" in the date has some residual evidence at the top of its ascender indicating the top diagonal of the original number, either a "2" or a "3".  The excellent http://www.SunandAnchor.com kindly looked at this coin and offered 1652 as a reverse die (has to be pre 53 due to harp strings and reverse shields conform to 52) and 1652 on the obverse (can't be 51 due to large initial mark and COMMONWEALTH is typical of 52).  So here we have just what I promised in the title - a nice, presentable 1656 Commonwealth sixpence that is actually from 1652 dies and even more unusually, when they randomly dug their hand into the bucket full of old, discarded dies, they actually pulled out same date old dies!  Many thanks again to http://www.SunandAnchor.com.  I know most of you will be familiar with this site but if not, please do pay them a visit.  A very nice example from one of the most interesting periods in British history, not to mention the fact that this is an unrecorded 1656/2 coin.  £695 RESERVED (M.He.3-12-23)






WCom-7556:  Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Halfgroat.  1649 – 60.  No legend other than mark of denomination, which I think was the first and last time this had happened on a halfgroat?  Spink 3221.  Very good grade for issue.  £185


WCom-7594:  1649-60 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Halfgroat.  An issue actually spanning not just Oliver Cromwell’s stewardship but also that of his son, Richard Cromwell.  Spink 3221.  Very good grade for issue.  £185


WCom-7623:  Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Twopence.  Struck 1649-60.  A centrally struck, problem-free attractive coin being much above average.  Spink 3221.  A very nice coin from a somewhat interesting period of British history.  £145


WCom-7929:  1649-60 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Halfgroat.  A centrally struck, problem-free attractive coin being much above average.  Spink 3221.  A very nice coin from a somewhat interesting period of British history.  £165






WCom-7351:  Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Penny.  Struck 1649-60 so of course, this could well be a later Richard Cromwell piece.  A centrally struck, problem-free attractive coin being much above average.  Spink 3222.  Ex Dr E. Birstall collection (sold with his ticket and paper envelope).  A very nice coin from a somewhat interesting period of British history.  £165


WCom-7622:  Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Penny.  Struck 1649-60.  A centrally struck, problem-free attractive coin being much above average.  Spink 3222.  Ex Shaun Aldom collection.  A very nice coin from a somewhat interesting period of British history.  £175






WCom-7595:  1649-60 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Halfpenny.  An issue actually spanning not just Oliver Cromwell’s stewardship but also that of his son, Richard Cromwell.  Spink 3223.  The rarest of the pence issues by some margin.  £195 


WCom-7930:  1649-60 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth Hammered Silver Halfpenny.  An issue actually spanning not just Oliver Cromwell’s stewardship but also that of his son, Richard Cromwell.  Spink 3223.  The rarest of the pence issues by some margin.  A tiny coin that could easily have been lost but that was what an actual halfpenny was equivalent to in silver bullion back in the day so that dictated the size of the coin.  Small though this is, it is not the smallest hammered coin ever to hit the streets of England - that was the second issue Henry VIII farthing and to be fair, that Tudor coin is much smaller!!  This Commonwealth halfpenny is a superb example being unusually centrally struck as well as being high grade for issue.  Bordering on choice for issue.  £325