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Cut Halfpennies

These two cut halfpennies came in from Colin Pearson: one has a voided short cross and the other a voided long cross on the reverse.

How detecting finds changed our understanding of cut coins

Go back 50 years and both were quite scarce. They were outnumbered by whole pennies by at least 100 to 1. Then detectorists started to dig up cut fractions all over England. Prior to this few had been found. Thousands of whole pennies had been discovered in hoards but these seldom contained any cut coins. However, detecting finds proved that cut fractions circulated far and wide.

I did a survey in 2006, in which a high number of detectorists sent in details of their finds of whole and cut voided short and long cross coins. The statistics gained through the survey proved that cut coins outnumbered whole pennies by a ratio of 2 to 1. This huge difference altered our understanding of the use of coins between the reigns of Henry II and Henry III. It brought ordinary folk into the overall picture, for it was they who would have used cut fractions in their everyday life.

Halfpenny of John

Colin’s first find is a voided short cross class Vb cut halfpenny of John. The moneyer is Fulke and the mint (it doesn’t show up on the coin) will be London. The obverse is only Fine but the reverse is a sharper strike and would grade VF.

Halfpenny of Henry III

Find number two is a class III voided long cross coin of Henry III. It has a quite a large piece missing but GERO (E and R ligate, which is unusual) can be seen on the reverse. I can’t pin it down to a sub-class as crucial detail is missing but GER is the end of the moneyer’s name, which will be part of Roger, and the O is half of ON. A moneyer named Roger was an official at Bristol, Gloucester, Hereford and Newcastle so the coin will have been struck at one of these mints.


The number of cut fractions found by detectorists now runs into tens of thousands, so their selling price has tumbled. Today it’s not unusual for them to be on offer at £5 each and even at that price there are few takers. They might be common but despite that it’s always nice if one turns up during a detecting session.

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