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Sixpence of Elizabeth I

We’ve featured a high number of hammered silver coins of Elizabeth I on this website. Here’s another coin of Elizabeth I but this one is an example of the milled coinage. It was found by Kevin Dowbiggin, who described it as a shilling but it is actually a sixpence.

On the obverse the lower part of the queen’s dress is plain, the coin is dated 1562 and on both sides the mint mark is a star. A large area within the inner circle is well rubbed and this has left it looking rather peculiar.

Milled coins (so-called because they were made by machinery) were made between 1561 and 1571 and they looked far better than their hammered counterparts. However, the hammermen at the mint campaigned against them, for they were fearful about job losses.

Production ceased in 1571 not because of complaints from the hammermen but because it was extremely difficult to get the milled coins’ weight correct. The thickness of the sheets of silver from which blanks were punched varied, so some were heavier than others. In the case of hammered coins, if a blank was too heavy it could be clipped to size but that process was difficult to do to a punched out disc. The outcome was the return to 100% hammered coinage.


The reverse of Kevin’s find is in very good condition but the main part of the obverse is only Fair; the latter will have a significant impact on its possible commercial value. In its present state of preservation my price range would be £50 to £80.

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