Edward III Farthings

Classification

 

The basic design of farthings remained unchanged throughout Edward III’s fifty-year reign, so stylistic changes to individual elements, particularly the crown and the lettering, play a significant part in their classification. With regard to lettering, N occurs in either Lombardic or Roman style, the latter in normal, reverse-barred, horizontally-barred and unbarred forms. The letter X may be of plain, curule-shaped or cross-potent ('Treaty X') form. These terms are frequently used in the descriptions that follow, so a set of images is provided below for reference.

letter-lombardic-n.jpg

Lombardic

N

letter-normal-n.jpg

Normal

Roman N

letter-reverse-barred-n.jpg

Rev-Barred

Roman N

letter-horiz-barred-n.jpg

Horiz-Barred

Roman N

letter-unbarred-n.jpg

Unbarred

Roman N

letter-normal-x.jpg

Plain

X

letter-curule-x.jpg

Curule

X

letter-potent-x.jpg

Cross-Potent

X

The four coinages of the reign have been studied and classified by many numismatists and consequently the same coin can often be referred to in a number of different ways. A particular farthing of the second coinage, for example, is Class 2, Type XVe2 or Type 3, depending on whether reference is being made to the works of North/Woodhead, Stewartby or Withers. In order to avoid further confusion, I have aligned the type-numbers used in this article with those of the Withers classification. I have not, however, sub-divided these type-numbers. Where suffixed sub-types and varieties exist under the Withers classification (e.g. 6(i), 6a, 6a(ii), etc.) they are incorporated under the main type number in the present article. More details are available from the tables of concordance in the section entitled Discussion.

As indicated in the Introduction, farthings were struck in some quantity during the period of the first coinage (1327-1335), but at the present time they are not distinguishable from the later coins of Edward II. Further details of these are available from the companion article, Early Edwardian Farthings. The first farthings that can be attributed with certainty to Edward III are those of the second ('star-marked') coinage, and it is from this issue that the following classification details begin. For convenience of reference, I have re-used (and relabelled) some images of this coinage from Early Edwardian Farthings. This allows all the farthings attributable to Edward III's reign to be viewed and studied without the need to switch between the two articles.

Some of the coin types that follow are illustrated by a single image; others are illustrated by two or more images in a sliding gallery. In the latter case, navigation arrows will become visible when the mouse-pointer is hovered over the image initially displayed. All images can be clicked to provide an enlarged view.

Second ('Star-Marked') Coinage

Type 1 (1335-1343) - Spink 1542; North 1101

 

Second coinage farthings are readily identifiable by the presence of a star in the obverse and/or reverse legends, as shown below. Those of Type 1 have a neat bust and a low crown without intermediate ornaments. The letter N is normal or unbarred. Coins of this issue were struck from 0.833 fine silver, rather than the 0.925 sterling standard, in order to allow their size to be slightly increased. 

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX A⋆  EDWARDVS REX AN⋆ EDWARDVS REX ANG⋆  EDWARDVS REX AA⋆ 

EDWARDVS REX AN
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS ⋆LONDON

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Type 2 (1335-1343) - Spink -; North -

 

Second coinage farthings are readily identifiable by the presence of a star in the obverse and/or reverse legends, as shown below. Those of Type 2 have a low crown, as Type 1, but the bust is larger and has a broader rounded chin and pellet eyes. The letter N is normal, unbarred or rarely of Lombardic form. On some coins a colon stop follows the king's name. Coins of this issue were struck from 0.833 fine silver, rather than the 0.925 sterling standard, in order to allow their size to be slightly increased. 

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX AN⋆  EDWARDVS REX ANG⋆
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS ⋆LONDON

second-coinage-farthing-w2a.jpg

Type 3 (1335-1343) - Spink 1542A; North 1104

 

Second coinage farthings are readily identifiable by the presence of a star in the obverse and/or reverse legends, as shown below. Those of Type 3 have a new bust with a longer face, different drapery and a taller crown. The pellets in the angles of the reverse cross are usually conjoined such that they have the appearance of trefoils. The letter N is normal or unbarred. Coins of this issue were struck from 0.833 fine silver, rather than the 0.925 sterling standard, in order to allow their size to be slightly increased. 

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX ANG⋆
Rev. legend:  ⋆CIVITAS LONDON  CIVITAS LONDON⋆ 

CIVITAS ⋆LONDON

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Third ('Florin') Coinage - London

Type 4 (1344-1351) - Spink 1562; North 1135/1 

 

All third coinage farthings of London are of Type 4, although there are a few minor varieties in respect of letter forms. The bust is neat with long hair-locks and narrow shoulders. The crown is quite small with no intermediate ornaments. The letter X is curule-shaped, and N is of Lombardic form with a distinctive 'florin coinage' style. The silver of this issue (and all subsequent issues of this reign) is 0.925 fine.

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

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Third ('Florin') Coinage - Reading

Type 4 (1344-1351) - Spink 1562A; North 1135/2

 

Despite their rarity, two distinct farthing types of Reading are known of the third coinage. Type 4 has a neat bust with long hair-locks and wide shoulders. The crown is quite small with no intermediate ornaments. The letter N is of reverse-barred Roman form and X is curule-shaped. A scallop-shell replaces the usual three pellets in the LAR quarter of the reverse. The legend is divided thus: VIL/LA R/ADI/NGY

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX
Rev. legend:  VILLA RADINGY

third-coinage-farthing-reading-1.jpg

Type 5 (1344-1351) - Spink 1562B; North -

 

Despite their rarity, two distinct farthing types of Reading are known of the third coinage. Type 5 has a crude bust with long outspread hair-locks and wide shoulders. The crown is quite small with no intermediate ornaments. The letter N on the obverse is of Lombardic form, while that on the reverse is of reverse-barred Roman form. The letter X is curule-shaped. A scallop-shell replaces the usual three pellets in the VIL quarter of the reverse. The legend is divided thus: VIL/LA R/ADI/NG

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX AN
Rev. legend:  VILLA RADING

third-coinage-farthing-reading-2.jpg

Fourth Coinage, Pre-Treaty Period

Type 6 (1355-1361) - Spink 1609; North 1172

 

All Pre-Treaty farthings with the short obverse legend shown are grouped together under Type 6, but there are a number of varieties with different stops and lettering, as outlined below. The coins have a tall crown with out-curved side-fleurs and no intermediate ornaments. The two words of the obverse legend may have an annulet, pellet or colon stop between them, or no stop at all. The letter N on the reverse is usually of Lombardic style, but coins exist with unbarred Roman N's and/or an annulet between pellets in the CIVI quarter.

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

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Fourth Coinage, Pre-Treaty or Transitional Treaty Period

Type 7 (1355-1361) - Spink -; North 1230/2

 

Withers attributes all Type 7 farthings to the Transitional Treaty period, but opinion is divided (see note below). The coins have the same crown as those of Type 6, but have a longer obverse legend. Like some Type 6 coins, varieties exist with an annulet between the pellets in the CIVI quarter, or annulet stops between the words of the obverse legend. The letter N on the obverse is of normal or unbarred Roman form. Those on the reverse may be either of unbarred Roman or Lombardic form. 

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX AN  EDWARDVS REX AN[G]
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

fourth-coinage-trans-treaty-farthing.jpg

Fourth Coinage, Treaty Period

Type 8 (1361-1369) - Spink 1636; North 1276

 

Treaty period farthings of Type 8 have a tall crown with no intermediate ornaments and a headband consisting of two down-curved arcs that join at the centre in an upward-pointing peak. The bust has a long oval face and narrow shoulders. The lettering is neater than that of the preceding types, and X is in the form of a cross potent, as associated with all Treaty period silver coins. N is unbarred or weakly barred.

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

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Type 9 (1361-1369) - Spink 1636; North 1276

 

Treaty period farthings of Type 9 have a new tall crown, which is distinctive in having intermediate ornaments and a normal continuous headband. The bust usually has a more angular chin than that of Type 8, and the shoulders are wider. However, it would seem that several different face punches were used. The letter N is barred, often horizontally such that it resembles a Roman H. The letter X is usually in the form of a cross potent, but appears to be plain on some coins (see gallery image 2).

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARDVS REX
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

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Fourth Coinage, Post-Treaty Period

Type 10 (1369-1377) - Spink 1652; North 1299

 

Post-Treaty farthings of Type 10 can be distinguished from their Treaty period predecessors by their different obverse legend. The face is also chubbier and the letter X is now plain. The obverse letter N is usually of Lombardic style, but the reverse-barred Roman form also occurs. The reverse letter N may be of Lombardic or Roman form, horizontally barred or unbarred, The king's shoulders are shown, but there is no neck connecting them to the head.

 

Obv. legend:  EDWARD REX ANGL
Rev. legend:  CIVITAS LONDON

fourth-coinage-post-treaty-farthing.jpg

Type 6 Note

 

The Pre-Treaty period coinage is sub-divided into seven chronological groups, designated Series A to G, but farthings were struck only from Series E onwards. Examples of this period identified as Series E and Series E/G mules in other numismatic works are grouped together under Type 6 in the Withers classification. See the Discussion section of this article for further details.

Type 7 Note

In the Withers classification (2002), all Type 7 coins are regarded as being of the Transitional Treaty period. In North's EHC (1991), the single type listed for the Transitional Treaty period is described as probably having a reverse of Pre-Treaty Series G (i.e. it has an annulet between the pellets in one quarter of the reverse). Stewartby (English Coins 1180-1551, 2009), following his 2001 SNC article jointly authored with P Woodhead, assigns them to Series G and notes the existence of E/G and G/E mules.

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