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Series F halfpenny of Edward III

This hammered coin looks to be massive but it is actually a tiny silver halfpenny. It was found by Bill Byford, who wanted to know what I thought about it.

On the obverse the legend reads EDWARDVS REX and the mint mark is clearly a crown. On the reverse the legend reads CIVI TAS LOnDOn. The clincher for ID purposes is the mint mark, which allows me to say that the obverse die is that of a series F halfpenny of Edward III.

This coin was struck during the fourth coinage of Edward III and halfpennies of series F are extremely rare. Additionally, they are only known as mules, with a series F obverse combined with a series G reverse with an annulet in the LOn quarter. There is no sign of an annulet on the reverse of Bill’s find, so the reverse as well as the obverse could belong to series F.


Experienced detectorists will know that most of the hammered silver coins they dig up are low denominations. This, of course, is because during the medieval period most people were only in possession of coins with a low face value. Leading on from this, most farthings and halfpennies that used to be scarce or rare have over the years become rather common through detecting finds. Some are cheaper today than they were 20 years since. The catalogue price on Bill’s find is a good example, for back in 2001 it stood a £120 in Fine condition but today it is £110.

On the obverse the edge is chipped and this side would grade only Fair; the reverse is better and about Fine. When the massive collection of coins of Edward III belonging to Gordon Doubleday was sold in 1972 it lacked this halfpenny. So, too, did the very comprehensive collection formed by Lord Stewartby. This highlights the extreme rarity of this little halfpenny. The overall condition leaves much to be desired, so a likely pre-sale auction estimate would be around £60. However, if two specialists became engaged in a bidding battle it could sell for more.

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