Edward III Farthings
The Berwick Coins
Located on the border between England and Scotland, Berwick-on-Tweed has frequently changed hands when conflict has arisen between the two countries. Edward I had taken Berwick from the Scots in 1296, but it was recaptured in 1318 during the reign of Edward II, following a lengthy siege after his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn. The town was held by the Scots until it was recaptured by Edward III in 1333. Thereafter, it remained under English jurisdiction until 1461, when it was ceded back to Scotland. In the period between 1296 and 1318, the town operated as an English mint, striking a considerable number of pennies, halfpennies and farthings. However, due to the logistics associated with its location, dies for the vast majority of Berwick's coins were made locally, rather than being supplied from London. After its recapture by Edward III, the town once again struck the same denominations between 1333 and c.1344. Like their predecessors, these coins were struck from locally made dies, which do not conform to the classification system applicable to the remainder of the Edwardian coinage. The farthings of this latter period are the subject of this section.
The seminal classification of the Berwick coinage is a paper by C E Blunt in the Numismatic Chronicle of 1931 entitled, The Mint of Berwick-on-Tweed under Edward I, II and III. In this work the three denominations are assigned to one of eight Berwick classes, some of which are subdivided using suffixes (a) to (c). This classification stood the test of time remarkably well, and appears virtually unchanged in volume two of the third edition of J J North's English Hammered Coinage, published in 1991. However, the development of the metal-detecting hobby since the 1970s has resulted in progressively more coins being made available for study, and this is particularly the case with halfpennies and farthings. Taking advantage of this new material, P and B R Withers developed a new and extended classification of all the Berwick coins. This is incorporated in their 2006 publication, The Galata Guide to The Pennies of Edward I and II, as a separate section entitled Coins of the Mint of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The principal type numbers used in the present article reflect those of the Withers classification with the same caveats expressed in the introduction to the classification of the main series.
The Berwick Classification
Berwick Type 7 (c.1333-42) - Spink 1539; North 1094
Farthings of Withers Berwick Type 7 are of good style. They have a small face, a tall bifoliate crown with near vertical side-fleurs, and several folds of drapery on the shoulders. Comma-like contractive marks sometimes follow the D and GR in the obverse legend.The reverse has a bear's head in the first and third quarters instead of the usual three pellets. The letter E is round-backed and open.
Obv. legend: EDWARDVS D GR
Rev. legend: VIL/LA B/ERV/ICI
Berwick Type 8 (c.1333-42) - Spink 1539; North 1094
Farthings of Withers Berwick Type 8 are of good style, with a larger face than Type 7 and a correspondingly wider bifoliate crown. The drapery consists of two wedges. Apostrophe-like contractive marks follow the D, G, R and A in the obverse legend. The reverse has a bear's head in the first and third quarters instead of the usual three pellets. The letter E is round-backed and open. An initial cross, pellet and colon stops occur in some of the reverse legends.
Obv. legend: EDWARD D G R A EDWARDVS D G EDWARDVS DEI [GRA]
Rev. legend: VIL/LA B/ERV/ICI WI/LLA/ [BER/VICI]
Berwick Type 9 (c.1333-42) - Spink 1539; North 1094
Farthings of Withers Berwick Type 9 show a deterioration of style and a large number of obverse legend variants. The crown has a headband with vestigial intermediate ornaments represented by rising peaks between the central fleur and side-fleurs.The inner and outer circles consist of very small dots that can have the appearance of a wire line. The reverse has a bear's head in the first and third quarters instead of the usual three pellets. The letter E is round-backed and may be open or closed.
Obv. legend: EVVARDVS DEI GRA EDWARDVS D GR A EDVARDVS ANGLIE EDWARDVS ANGLI
Rev. legend: VIL/LA /BER/VICI VIL/LAB/ERV/ICI
Berwick Type 10 (c.1333-42) - Spink 1539; North 1094
Farthings of Withers Berwick Type 10 are of very poor style with a small, featureless face. The crown is disproportionately large and has a headband with vestigial intermediate ornaments represented by rising peaks between the central fleur and side-fleurs. The inner and outer circles consist of widely-spaced, irregular dots.The reverse has a bear's head in the first and third, or second and fourth quarters instead of the usual three pellets. The letter E is round-backed and may be open or closed.
Obv. legend: EDWARDVS [ ] EDWRADVS ANG
Rev. legend: VIL/LA B/ERV/ICI VILL/ABE/RVV/ICI VIL/LAB/EW/ICI
Berwick Type 9 Note
Under the Withers classification, Type 9 is divided into five sub-classes, 9a to 9e based on obverse legend variants.
Berwick Type 10 Note
Under the Withers classification, Type 10 is divided into two sub-classes, 10a and 10b based on obverse legend variants.
General Berwick Note
Under the Blunt/North classification, all the Withers types are embraced by Class 8b.