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Henry VIII, halfpenny

This is the first coin from a group of three sent in by John Lashmar. It’s a hammered silver coin and is one of those that used to be a great rarity but is not as rare today, thanks to a number of new specimens being unearthed by detectorists.

The coin is a halfpenny, which is only about 12mm in diameter but is shown greatly enlarged. It’s a coin of Henry VIII and was struck during this king’s second coinage.

On the obverse Henry wears an arched crown and the legend on this side reads h D G ROSA SIE SPIA. The mint mark isn’t visible but if it could be seen it would be an acorn. To the left of the head is a letter T and to the right a W; the letters stand for Thomas Wolsey who, at the time this coin was struck, was Archbishop of York.

The reverse is of the usual type, with a cross with three pellets in the angles. The legend on this side reads CIVI TAS EBO RACI. In the Standard Catalogue York halfpennies of this type are listed as number 2359.

After King Henry, Cardinal Wolsey had been the most powerful man in England and held several ecclesiastical and other posts. However, in 1529 he fell out of favour. In 1530 he was arrested on a charge of treason, which certainly would have led to his execution. Fortunately for the old statesman, he died of natural causes on his way to London, so when he was buried his head was still attached to his body.



Having said this coin isn’t as rare as it used to be it is still a rarity. It has a small weak area on both sides but the flan is full and overall it would grade VF. As it stands it will certainly be one of the best extant specimens of a halfpenny of this type. To a keen collector of Tudor period coins it shouldn’t be worth any less than £250.

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