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Carlo Emanuelle III, half reale

Mark Kirby said this coin is a detecting find from about ten years since. He asked for me to identify it and give him some idea of its value.

At first sight it is obviously a foreigner. On the obverse the legend reads CAR EM D G REX SAR CYP ET IER and on the reverse is a crowned shield of arms. The date is 1771 and the diameter 20mm, which is the same size as an English sixpence of the same period.

This is a billon (very base silver) half reale of Carlo Emanuele III. The titles on the obverse name him as King of Sardinia, Cyprus and Jerusalem; he was also Duke of Savoy. The arms on the reverse are those of Sardinia.


A total of 1,614,480 half reales like this one were struck between 1768 and 1772, so they might be assumed to be fairly common. Surprisingly, all the dates are rare, which suggests many must have been melted down. A reliable source quoted roughly £60 in Fair condition and £120 in Fine condition for the date on Mark’s find.

Have you ever found a similar coin? It’s the first I have heard of as a detecting find but is yet another example of the foreign coins that circulated in England during past centuries.

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