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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Extremely Rare Pattern Shilling

Triton XV, Lot: 1914. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $35000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

TUDOR. Edward VI. 1547-1553. Pattern AR Shilling (26mm, 6.97 g, 11h). Tower mint; im: cinquefoil. Possibly by A. Levens. Dated 1547 in Roman numerals. (cinquefoil) EDWARD’ ◊ VI ◊ REX ◊ ANGL ◊ FRANC ◊ HIBER ◊ Z C, crowned and mantled bust right / (cinquefoil) TIMOR ◊ DOMINI ◊ FONS ◊ VITÆ ◊ M ◊ D ◊ XLVII, garnished goat-of-arms; E R across field. Bispham pl. 2, 1 (same dies as illustration); North 1953; SCBC -; Norweb Collection (Part 4, Spink 59, 17 June 1987), lot 1394 (same dies). EF, toned, some minor striking weakness at the highest points. Extremely rare.

On his accession to the the throne, the nine year old Edward VI inherited a coinage which had reached a nadir in English history. The successive debasements of his father Henry VIII left the majority of the silver in circulation composed of 3 parts alloy to 1 part silver. The vast majority of Edward's first coinage was struck to the same fineness and bore the name and portrait of his father. The existence of extremely rare pattern Shillings dated 1547 in good silver suggest that a major reform of the fineness of the coinage was considered early on in the boy king's reign. Joe Bispham (op cited above) has demonstrated the stylistic links between the dies for the pattern Shilling and the later debased Shillings struck at Durham House and suggested that the dies were engraved by a Frenchman, Anthony Levens. An additional interpretation for the existence of the pattern Shilling of 1547 is that it can be seen as part of a wider propaganda campaign orchestrated by Archbishop Cramner to promote the fledgling Royal and Protestant supremacy. Though still a child, as King and head of the Church of England it was important that Edward's image was cultivated both at home and abroad. These pattern Shillings can therefore arguably be seen in the same context as the magnificent medals associated with Edward's coronation and presentation strikings such as the double weight fine Sovereign of 60 Shillings.