|HANDBOOK OF THE COINS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM
HERBERT A. GRUEBER, F.S.A.,
ASSISTANT KEEPER OP COINS.
The following is taken from the above titled book which was printed and printed by WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS,
LIMITED in 1899 and no longer is copyright protected so is now available for public use and distribution.
BY THE KEEPEK OF COINS.
This handbook contains descriptions of all the specimens exhibited in the window-cases of the
Corridor of the Department of Coins and Medals ; viz. 974 English, 234 Scottish, and 134 Irish
Coins, ranging from the earliest Anglo-Saxon issues, circ. A.D. 600, down to the present day. Much
additional historical and descriptive matter, together with lists of the mint-marks chronologically
arranged under each reign and translations of the mottoes (given in the Appendices), will it is
hoped make this work a comprehensive guide to the entire coinage of Great Britain and Ireland. It
has been written by Mr H. A. Grueber, who is also responsible for the historical Introduction. The
sixty-four Collotype Plates, by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, give representations of all the more
The proof sheets have been read throughout by myself.
BARCLAY V. HEAD.
ANGLO-SAXON COINS ...... 1
ENGLISH COINS ........ 34
SCOTTISH COINS 162
IRISH COINS 213
APPENDIX A. SEQUENCE OP MINT-MARKS ON ENGLISH COINS FROM
EDWARD IV TO CHARLES II 249
APPENDIX B. MOTTOES, ETC., ON COINS....... 253
PLATES . . i-lixv
THIS Handbook of the Coins of Great Britain and Ireland is mainly intended as a guide to the series
of coins exhibited in electrotype in the corridor of the Department of Coins and Medals in the British
Museum. The sections illustrated comprise the Anglo-Saxon, English, Scottish, and Irish, and an
attempt has been made to present to the public such a series as will convey a good general idea of
these sections of British numismatics. In the case of the Anglo-Saxon coins, the types of which are
very numerous and varied, a few examples only of each reign or period are given ; but in the
English, Scottish, and Irish sections nearly every denomination is shown, and, so far as possible,
those of each separate issue. The classification is chronological: thus the gradual development of
the coinage is brought before the eye of the spectator. The descriptions in this work are limited to
the pieces actually exhibited; but, in order to make it a general guide to British numismatics,
copious notes are added throughout which give a history of the coinage. At the head of each
period or reign a general summary is given of the denominations, issues, weights, standard of
metal, &c., of the coinages, the descriptions of which immediately follow.
The aim of this Introduction will be to give in outline a general historical view of British numismatics
from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards. We shall, however, refer briefly to the earlier coinages
current in Britain, as it is from the later of these that many of the Anglo-Saxon types were derived.
Specimens of these coinages are not shown in this exhibition, as they are included in the series of
the Coins of the Ancients.
Previous to the Anglo-Saxon period the coinages current in Britain BRITISH were the Ancient British
and the purely Roman and Romano-British. The unit of the first class was the gold stater, the type
of which was derived from the stater of Philip II of Macedon. In its transit across the Continent but
few signs of the original type of the coin of Philip remained : and it is only by tracing it back through
its successive degradations that its source can be ascertained. The early pieces are mostly without
inscriptions. No certain date can be fixed for the introduction of this coinage into Britain ; but it must
have been about the middle of the second century B.C. The issues were for the most part in the
central and southern districts, as it is in these localities that the principality of the finds occur.
Quarter-staters were also struck, and at a later period small silver and copper pieces. The advent
of the Romans is clearly to be traced in the types of the coins, which now more nearly follow those
of the Roman money. Many of these coins struck during the later half of the first century B.C. are
remarkable examples of the die-engraver's art, and rival in execution some of those purely Roman.
Inscriptions now often occur, and in them we meet with the names of British chiefs who are known to
us from history, and of some of whom history makes no mention.* There is Commius, the King of
the Atrebates, who was in Britain at the time of Caesar's second invasion in 54 B.C., and his sons
Tincommius, Verica, and Eppillus; also Cunobelinus, King of the Trinobantes, the Cymbeline of
Shakespeare, whose mint was at Colchester, and Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, who is
mentioned by Tacitus. j" This coinage did not last much after the invasion and conquest of Britain
by Claudius (A.D. 43), and from that time for centuries only Roman money circulated here. Judging
from the hoards which are constantly unearthed, the importation of Roman money must have been
very considerable. It consisted almost entirely of silver and copper, as gold coins are but rarely
found, and then generally singly. No Roman mints were established till the end of the third century,
when we find Carausius and Allectus striking coins at London and Colchester. The London mint
was continued by Constantine the Great, and the last Roman Emperor to strike coins in Britain was
Magnus Maximus, who died in A.D. 388.
There is now an interval of over two centuries during which time we COINS, have no numismatic
records; but it may be concluded that the Britons continued to use Roman money, chiefly the small
copper pieces which were extensively imitated. In this interval Britain had passed under the sway of
other invaders, the Saxons, who after a while instituted a new coinage of a very different character
from that which had preceded. This coinage was in a measure like that which was in currency in
Gaul; but it differed from it materially. The Gaulish or Merovingian coinage was essentially a gold
currency ; though some silver was struck. | The money introduced by the Saxons into England was
mainly of silver. In their own country, since early times, they had possessed a silver currency ; and
when Rome debased her coinage and issued pieces of copper washed with silver, Germany
adhered to the imperial denarius, and in the 4th and 5th centuries the silver coins of Nero and
those of Diocletian were current together. |j In establishing this money in England the Saxons were
but continuing the currency they had been accustomed to for centuries. Also in Germany, as in
England, silver was more easily obtained than gold.
* Evans, Coins of the Ancient Britons, p. 130 et seqq.
t Ann. xii. 36.
| Little silver was found in Gaul, but there was a good deal of gold. Diod.
Sic. v. 27.
Keary, Coinages of Western Europe, p. 112.
Mommsen, ed. Blacas, torn. iii. p. 132.