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


WCom-7484:  1658 Oliver Cromwell Portrait Milled Shilling.  Machine made, using the presses of Pierre Blondeau – employed by the Paris mint and invited to come to England in 1649 as the mint was looking into milled coinage over hammered (they had already dipped their toes in the water 100 years earlier with the Elizabeth 1st / Eloy Mestrelle “milled” coinage.  The dies were by Thomas Simon.  There was great anger on the side of the hammered coinage employees at this French interloper who was literally going to end their employment.  They were so aggrieved that the officers of the Mint threatened Blondeau with an indictment of high treason, and accused him of libel and counterfeiting.  This came to a head with a challenge – the old guard claimed they could create more coins, and of better quality, using old machinery lying around the mint, than Blondeau could with his new techniques.  Blondeau, not lacking in confidence, took up the challenge, competing against the provost of the moneyers, David Ramage.  He produced 300 fine-quality coins to his opponents poorer-quality dozen. It was a clear victory.  It was also a significant U-turn (although parliament does them all the time now) in that Cromwell himself had said he’d not go down the “portrait on coins” road just a few years earlier.  However, the timing was bad as in 1655 when the authorisation was granted, the government did not have the money or political will to fund the large scale minting operation proposed by Blondeau, which would have required an outlay of £1,400 on buildings and equipment alone, and that was before the cost of the silver required for coinage.  Indeed, things were so bad that there was barely any hammered silver or gold coinage minted in 1655.  In yet another twist of fate, fortune then turned to favour Blondeau when a vast amount of Spanish treasure was captured in the Battle of Cádiz in 1656.  The first production of Bondeau’s coinage was in 1657 with another just prior to Cromwell’s death in 1658.  In case any of you are overly concerned about the employment status and mental well being of the old guard, don’t be – hammered coinage continued with a good portion of the 1656 pirate silver going the way of hammered coinage.  Whilst it’s true that the river of hammered coinage practically ran dry from 1657 onwards, that’s more to do with country being on its knees, together with the Spanish being a tad more careful with their silver-laden ships after Cádiz.  Extra image here although please be aware that a combination of my lack of skill and trying to photograph through a reflective slab has resulted in this indifferent image.  This coin is slabbed by NGC and graded ‘About Uncirculated 58’.  Spink 3228 (EF price, not nUNC price) is £5,250 in 2022 Spink).  £3,995




Commonwealth (Hammered)





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-5912:  1654 over 3 Commonwealth Hammered Silver Sixpence.  Relatively full of flan – minimal clipping with an unusually clear date.  This is the rarer 4 over 3 variety which E.S.C. rates at R2.  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











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