The Australian Numismatic Society

    A Paper given at the June 2020 online Conference

                       English Bi-matallics of the Stuarts by Rod Sell

In the late 1990s I started collecting bi-metallics.  Coins that have different parts with different metals.

The modern bi-metallics started with the Italian 1982 500 Lire coins.  The Rome Mint also made 500 lire coins for
San Marino and the Vatican in 1982.

Searching for bi-metallics in the 1990s was easy, as there were not that many around.  I even had the idea of collecting
the lot.

I soon discovered that there were bi-metallics that had been produced around the world in earlier periods.

The first English bi-metallics, were produced in the reign of Charles I.  They were the Rose Farthings, which has a brass
wedge in the coin to stop forgeries.

The book "The Farthing Tokens of James I & Charles I" by Tim Everson, has all the details of these farthings.
During the reign of James I a Patent was awarded to Lord Harington of Exton on the 19th May 1613 to produce farthings.
These Patents continued to be given, until the defeat of Charles I.  Parliament siezed control of the Royal Mint in 1642.

On the 1st March 1636 Lord Maltravers and Sir Francis Crane were awarded a patent for 21 year  to issue new farthings
containing a brass insert and weighing at least 10 grains.  For this privilege they paid the king just under 67 pounds each

On the 19th September 1639, Lord Maltravers was awarded a Patent on his own, to produce the Rose farthings.  He paid
the king 80 pounds a year for this privilege.  80 pounds is 76,800 farthings so he must have made a lot more to recoup costs.

I started collecting these because they were bi-metallic. As I found more, I wanted to see how many differnt dies there
were.  I had hoped I could find the same die pairing on mutiple coins and then try to trace a patten of production.
However I only managed to obtain a dozen coins, and no two dies appear to be the same.

The obverses

The first differences are the size of the centre circles and the crowns.
Then which letters do the sceptre point to.  Some go through the circle.
This is still a study for the future. 

The reverses.

Many different sizes of Rose and circle.  All the brass wedges are at the top.
The only way to compare these coins is by images like these.  The actual coins are too small to see details.

In 1684 toward the end of the reign of Charles II, to stop the forgery of copper farthings, and also to recoup the price of tin
for the King's Cornish tin mines.  The farthing were produced in tin, with a copper plug.  As an extra anti forgery device, an
edge inscription, NUMMORUM FAMULUS 1684 (The servant of the coinage) was introduced.

The obverse of six tin Charles II farthings in my collection. 
Tin oxidises and flakes very easily, so it is very difficult to find these in high grade.

The reverse image. The edge inscription with 1684 date, can still be read on the top two coins.

This farthing has a 1679 date and is a lot heavier.  It is probably a 1679 copper farthing, but why a centre plug?

James II continued producing tin farthings and halfpennies during his short reign.
It is reported that there are farthings using old 1684 collars.  His coins are dated 1685 to 1687.

James II 1685 Farthings with Cuirassed bust.


I do not have an example with the 1687 Draped bust.

James II halfpennies, all had Draped busts. Two on left 1686, one on right 1687.


Willian & Mary continued producing tin farthing and halfpennies dated 1689 to 1994. In 1694 they reverted to copper coins.
The farthings of 1689 had a small draped bust.  I do not have an example of this coin.
The farthings of 1690 to 1692 feature a large cuirassed bust.  The date is also under Britannia on the reverse of the coins.


The last coin is much smaller.  It looks like it has been clipped.

The 1689 tin halfpennies featured a small draped bust. I do not have an example of this coin.
The 1690 to 1692 coins feature a larger Cuirassed bust
The 1690 halfpennies only had the year on the edge of the coin.


A 1691 Halfpenny where the date is shown beneath Britannia.  The coin has oxidised and flaked off some of the edges.

These tin coins are very difficult to find, especially in nice condition.

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27th June 2020