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Alexander III, cut halfpenny

This coin came in from Stephen Palmer, who said he didn’t know if it would be suitable for the website. It’s a cut halfpenny, examples of which are very regularly unearthed by detectorists. However, this one is a bit special.

Rather than being English and very common, this cut halfpenny is Scottish. It’s an example of the voided long cross and stars coinage of Alexander III (struck from 1250 to circa 1280. There are many types, mints and moneyers but being only half a penny it is often impossible to pin them down. Fortunately, enough detail is visible for me to identify all the important points.

ALEX shows up on the obverse, so the coin definitely belongs to the reign of Alexander III. On the reverse the legend appears to read Thº IAS. At first I thought the letter h was followed by a large pellet but it didn’t seem to make sense. The reading is close to ThOMAS; on the coin the O is very small and the letter M has only a single upright. However, the moneyer will be Thomas and an official of this name was employed at only one mint: St. Andrews.

The detail on the obverse isn’t clear enough for me to identify the type but Thomas was responsible for only two: III and IV. Therefore, Stephen’s coin was struck at the St, Andrews mint, a moneyer named Thomas was responsible for its issue and it will be type III or IV.


The obverse is weak but everything on the reverse is clear. St. Andrews is a very rare mint for Alexander III so this cut halfpenny shouldn’t be worth any less than £30 – £40 to a specialist in Scottish coins.

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