Lot Archive


№ 38


8 November 1995

Hammer Price:

William III (1694-1702), Halfpenny, 1701, with a’s in britannia replaced by inverted v’s (BMC. 703; SC. 135 var.). Obverse with a weak area to left of monarch’s eye, otherwise better than very fine, reverse with typical weak Britannia, and only about very fine, of pleasing colour, with traces of original colour at margins and elsewhere, unusually pleasing for issue and very rare thus. (£150-200)

The quality of the Williamite copper coinage is notoriously poor and little care seems to have been taken to produce attractive and well made coins; the reverses – presumably thought to be of less consequence than the obverses which bore the royal portrait – are often particularly bad. In the view of the cataloguer the weakness of the reverse of the coin above is not the result of wide circulation but simply the inevitable consequence of a badly engraved die, with no effort made to render effectively Britannia’s face or drapery. Such defects are characteristic of many coins of the reign, particularly the later dates, as is clearly evident in the photographic illustrations published, including several of those in the plates of Peck’s BMC. Words incorrectly spelt also occur frequently, as Hailstone points out in SC; though the frequency with which one finds coins with inverted V’s substituted for A’s points not human error but indifference to the visual appearance of the coins and it is quite possible that an inverted V may simply have served, from time to time, as a convenient substitute for the A .