Elizabeth I shilling – Zeeland countermark

This coin was sent in by Martin Scowen on behalf of a friend, who wanted an ID and a valuation. As can be seen from the illustrations, it is a shilling of Elizabeth I.

The coin has mint mark martlet on both sides so it is an example of the second issue of Elizabeth I. The bust of the queen is only Fair but the rest of the coin would grade Fine. Ordinarily, in its present condition it would be worth around £60 but there is something that makes it very special.

Behind Elizabeth’s head on the obverse a countermark has been punched into the coin. The countermark is made up of a rampant demi-lion above three wavy lines (these are meant to be waves), all within a square-topped shield. This countermark bears the arms of the Netherlands’ province of Zeeland.

This mark was placed upon coins under the Ordinance of Delft, which dates from 1573. Through this William of Orange attempted to control the currency of the northern Netherlands. Spanish and other foreign coins in circulation were called in and countermarked during 1573-74 and then reissued at a premium of 15%.


English coins with the Zeeland countermark are extremely rare. I traced only one on a shilling of Elizabeth I; this was sold for £380 on easyliveAuction.com. If it were different to the specimen featured here then it was its identical twin

£380 is not a particularly high price for a coin as rare as this one. I traced an Edward VI shilling with a Zeeland countermark on sale with a price tag of $3,250. And, the Edward VI shillings countermarked with a portcullis or a seated greyhound (Standard Catalogue numbers 52546 and 2547) are not as rare but they sell for even higher figures

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