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Long Cross Pennies

Class 3 sub-classes

This page describes and illustrates the sub-classes of class 3, as revised by Ron Churchill and Bob Thomas in their 2012 book, The Brussels Hoard of 1908. To view the classification prior to these revisions, click here.

For coins of classes 1 to 4, Churchill and Thomas document progressive changes in the form of the star used as an initial mark. The coins of classes 1 and 4 are readily identifiable by other design criteria, but for the division of classes 2 and 3 into their respective sub-classes, the Churchill/Thomas classification attaches significant importance to the exact form of the star. In the case of certain class 3 sub-classes, in particular, the star is arguably the primary criterion for classification. Some of the coins that would be labelled 3c under the previous classification, for example, are re-assigned to 3a2 on this basis.

 

The different forms of the initial mark are illustrated below for ease of reference when viewing the coins on which they are used.

1

2

3

3*

4

(horizontal)

4

(vertical)

5

Irregular

Star 1  Used for classes 1a and 1b (star in crescent; star has 5, 6 or 7 spiky points)

Star 2  Used for class 2a. (star has 5 or 6 irregular spiky points)

Star 3  Used for classes 2b1 to 3a1, 3b and 3bc (star has 6 regular sharp points, two of which are orientated horizontally)

Star 3* Used for class 3a2 (star has 6 regular sharp points, two of which are orientated vertically)

Star 4  Used for classes 3bc, 3c, 3d1 and a 3d2 (star has 6 rounded points, the orientation of which varies)

Star 5  Used for classes 3d2, 4a, 4ab and 4b (star has 8 rounded points, the orientation of which varies)

It should be noted that irregular forms of star are also found. The example illustrated occurs on a class 3b coin of Lincoln.

Class 3a1 (1248 - 1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3

  • Long, thin face, usually with at least four small pellets making up the beard between the lower curl and the chin pellet on each side

  • Vestigial neck lines are often present

  • There is usually a pellet stop between REX and III

  • Almond-shaped or oval eyes formed by a pellet between two arcs

Class 3a2 (1248 - 1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3*

  • Oval face of variable style

  • Neck lines are present

  • There is usually a colon stop between REX and III

  • Oval or round eyes formed by a pellet between two arcs

Class 3ab1 (1248 - 1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3

  • Transitional between sub-classes 3a1 and 3b

  • The chin is more rounded than 3a1, but the face is longer than 3b

  • Usually four (but sometimes three or five) small pellets make up the beard between the lower curl and the chin pellet on each side

  • Neck lines are vestigial or absent

  • Pellet stop or no stop between REX and III

  • Normal X with two straight limbs, as illustrated

 

Class 3ab2 (1248 - 1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3

  • Transitional between sub-classes 3a1 and 3b

  • The chin is more rounded than 3a1, but the face is longer than 3b

  • Usually four (but sometimes three or five) small pellets make up the beard between the lower curl and the chin pellet on each side

  • Neck lines are vestigial or absent

  • Pellet stop or no stop between REX and III

  • Distinctive X with one straight and one S-shaped limb

 

Class 3b (1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3

  • Wide, rounded face

  • Usually three large pellets between the lower curl and the chin pellet on each side

  • No neck lines are present

  • Pellet stop or no stop between REX and III

  • Almond-shaped or oval eyes formed by a pellet between two arcs

Class 3bc (1249)

  • Initial mark, star 3 (a few), or star 4 (most)

  • Transitional between sub-classes 3b and 3c

  • Pellet stop or no stop between REX and III

  • Usually neck lines, as sub-class 3c

  • The three letters ENR of HENRICVS are usually ligated

Class 3c (1249 - 1250)

  • Initial mark, star 4

  • Square face with rounded beard

  • Clearly defined neck lines

  • Usually a colon stop between REX and III

  • Round eyes formed by a pellet in an annulet

  • Often a pellet between the curls on each side

Class 3d1 (1250)

  • Initial mark, star 4

  • Square face with pointed beard

  • Clearly defined neck lines

  • Usually a colon stop between REX and III

  • Round eyes formed by a pellet in an annulet

  • Often a pellet between the curls on each side

Class 3d2 (1250)

  • Initial mark, star 4 (most), or star 5 (a few)

  • Transitional between sub-classes 3d1 and 4a

  • Clearly defined neck lines

  • Colon or pellet stop between REX and III

  • Round eyes formed by a pellet in an annulet

  • Often a pellet between the curls on each side

  • Letter R has an upturned tail

  • Face of class 4a

Notes regarding class 3 sub-classes

The classification of this element of the long cross coinage has been subject to considerable attention and refinement since Lawrence set out the criteria that defined the original three sub-classes, 3a, 3b and 3c. Additional sub-classes were first introduced between 3a and 3b, 3b and 3c, and 3c and 4a, all reflecting gradual changes that occur on the dies. The first two of the additions were labelled 3ab and 3bc respectively. The third, until recently, was known as ‘3c transitional’ or ‘3c late’, but was latterly given its own label, 3d.

As a result of the tendency for one of the foregoing class 3 sub-classes to merge into the next, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether a particular coin should be assigned to the earlier or later of two consecutive sub-classes. Experienced numismatists may themselves disagree, as there are relatively few truly diagnostic features and some of the criteria are subjective.

 

In their 2012 publication, The Brussels Hoard of 1908, Ron Churchill and Bob Thomas refined the class further and proposed some significant changes. One of the more controversial of these is the sub-class they label 3a2. Some of the coins assigned to this new sub-class previously formed part of class 3a, but others would have been designated class 3c. The latter coins typically have a colon stop between REX and III, clear neck lines, and pellets by the hair, all of which are features that numismatists have long associated with the 3c sub-class. The principal classification criteria under the Churchill/Thomas proposals are the style of the bust and the form of the initial star. For their 3a2 sub-class, the bust has eyes formed by a pellet between two arcs, rather than a pellet in an annulet, and the initial star has two of its six points aligned in the vertical plane. It is this last feature that also distinguishes 3a2 from 3a1 when both would formerly have been designated 3a. It should be noted that class 3c, 3d1 and most 3d2 coins have this orientation of initial star, but the Churchill/Thomas classification makes a distinction between sharp-pointed stars on class 3a2 and those with more rounded points on classes 3c and 3d.

Another significant change made by Churchill and Thomas is the division of class 3d into two sub-classes, 3d1 and 3d2, and the transfer of some late class 3c coins into the newly created 3d1. The re-designated coins are distinguished from those that retain their 3c label by the style of their busts.

In some respects, the Churchill/Thomas revisions make it more difficult to be certain that a coin is correctly assigned, as bust style is highly subjective and, due to its small size and position on the coin, the initial mark is often indistinct (not fully struck-up) or incomplete (off-flan as struck, or removed by clipping). The distinction between stars of type 3* and some of those of type 4 (vertical) can also be very challenging, the latter not always being as clearly rounded as illustrated examples would suggest.