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Scottish groat of Robert III

This coin was unearthed by Derek Henderson during a detecting session in Northumberland. It’s a Scottish groat of Robert III, whose dates are 1390 to 1406.

On the obverse there is a tressure of 11 arcs surrounding the head of King Robert. There is nothing on the points of the arcs. On the reverse the inner legend reads VILL AED InBV RGh, so this groat is a product of the mint situated in Edinburgh. The mint mark on both sides is a large cross pattee.

The heavy coinage of Robert III was struck between 1390 and circa 1403. This was followed by the light coinage, which commenced circa 1403 and lasted until 1406. I suspected that Derek’s find was a product of the light coinage but he hadn’t given the weight. When I asked him about this he took the coin to a local jeweller who, after weighing it, was able to tell Derek that the coin tipped the scales at almost exactly 30 grains. Therefore, this is a light coinage Edinburgh groat of Robert III.

Reference works

The only source of information on light groats of Robert III was published in a short article in volume LXXII (1937-38) of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The article was by C. H. Dakers, who said that coins from the Edinburgh mint are usually the most common. However, he pointed out that only four examples were known to Burns (author of The Coinage of Scotland, published in 1887 but still the most comprehensive reference work) against eight from the Dumbarton mint.

Furthermore, there were two Dumbarton groats in the Catalogue of the National Museum Collection and one from the Aberdeen mint but none with an Edinburgh mint signature. Dakers did mention an Edinburgh groat in the James Davidson collection that was very similar to Derek’s find (11 arcs on the obverse) but it had pellets on the cusps of the tressure.

My research involved looking at illustrations of a very large number of Robert III groats. This took quite some time but it proved that Dakers was correct when he said that Robert III light coinage groats of Edinburgh are far rarer than those struck during the heavy coinage.

Valuation

On the obverse of this groat part of the legend is flat but all the main details can be seen. The outer legend on the reverse is also weak but the inner legend is sharp and strong. The coin is extremely rare and despite the fact that the overall condition could be better it would still be of interest to specialists in the coinage of Scotland.

If I was cataloguing it for sale at auction I would set the pre-sale estimate at £200-250 and would expect keen completion between prospective buyers. Needless to say, it would have to be properly catalogued in order the fetch the best possible price.

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