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Remarkable cleaning of reader’s find

The first pair of images is of a Commonwealth shilling, which was found some months back by Stephen Palmer. Shillings of the Commonwealth period are rare as detecting finds but when this specimen surfaced it was in shocking condition. There was some kind of deposit stuck to both sides and its appearance could best be described as awful.

commonwealth shilling

Stephen had his find cleaned and conserved by someone very skilled in this type of work.

The second set of images show how the coin looks now. I cannot remember seeing such an improvement in appearance and whoever managed to achieve this should be heartily congratulated.


Shortly after Charles I was executed Parliament decreed that the country was now a Commonwealth and Republic. The mint in the Tower of London soon started to strike new coins; the larger ones were nicknamed ‘breeches money’ as the two shields on the reverse looked like a pair of breeches.

In 1653 Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector and when he died in 1658 his son, Richard, gained the same post. However, Richard was not as strong as his father and eventually resigned his position and retired to Europe. After the Restoration in 1660 coins of the Commonwealth are said to have been demonetised but the amount of wear on many extant specimens seems to prove that they continued to circulate long after 1660.


There is slight weakness roughly in the centre on both sides and the edge is a bit irregular but the coin is otherwise good VF for the period, with good eye appeal. To a keen collector this 1652 Commonwealth shilling should be worth £500 to £600.

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