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Cut quarter of a penny of Prince Henry of Scotland

English cut farthings turn up regularly as detecting finds. These are almost invariably voided short and long cross coins. Just occasionally a rarity is found and one of them is featured here. This cut quarter was unearthed very recently by Shaughn Tyreman and is an extremely rare Scottish coin. Following on are details in regard to why it came to be struck.

King David of Scotland invaded England early in 1136.  The main reason for this was supposed to be to give support to Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, in her claim to the throne of England. However, David might also have seen an opportunity to grab land before the new king (Stephen) had time to consolidate his position, as the Scots had a longstanding claim to Cumbria.

Carlisle and its mint were swiftly captured and this led to the very first Scottish coins being struck. They initially copied the design of the last issue of Henry I but bore David’s name; slightly later coins would copy Stephen’s cross moline (‘Watford’) type. Later still pennies would be struck in the name of David’s son, Prince Henry. He was already heir to the throne of Scotland but Henry also gained the English earldoms of Huntingdon and Northumberland.

On the obverse of Shaughn’s find is a crowned bust facing right with a sceptre in front. What remains of the legend reads NER. On the reverse is a quarter of a cross crosslet, in which is a cross and an arc. In Coins of Scotland, Ireland and the Islands pennies of this type are attributed to Prince Henry of Scotland and listed as number 5014.

The full obverse legend on pennies of this type reads STIFENE REX but only NE R remains on this cut farthing. They bear the name of Stephen but were struck for Prince Henry. On the reverse the only two letters that show up are an elongated W followed by a letter I; this is the start of the money’s name: William. The mint is uncertain but may well be Bamborough.


This extremely rare coin is well struck and in VF condition. Cut quarters sell for only a fraction of the price for a whole penny but this example is so rare that my minimum price range would be £250 to £300. Competition between prospective buyers in a saleroom might push the hammer price through the higher estimate

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