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Sixpence of Elizabeth I

Steve Smith said he now has a good number of hammered silver coins but the specimen pictured here was his very first find. Experience has taught him that most hammered coins that come out of the ground are not as good as this one.

The coin is a sixpence of Elizabeth I, which is dated 1567 on the reverse and has mint mark coronet on both sides. There are two scratches on the queen’s face and Steve wondered if they could have been put there by a disgruntled Catholic. Elizabeth’s elder sister, Mary, was a Catholic and this led to persecution of Protestants during her reign (1554-58). Elizabeth was a Protestant and when she became queen Catholics started to be persecuted. Her coins are occasionally seen bearing graffiti or damage, which might have been done by Catholics as a protest.

The two scratches on Steve’s coin are more likely to have been caused by something sharp in the soil it had been in since it was lost, not long after it was struck in 1567. Elizabeth’s face is very weak but instead of being caused by long circulation this would be due to the flan thickness being uneven. Sheets of silver were beaten out by hand and then the discs to make coins were cut from them. If a disc was not a uniform thickness then the imagery on the thinner areas would be left weak or non-existent when struck between a pair of dies.


This sixpence is round and overall it would grade about VF, However, the two scratches and the weakness on Elizabeth’s face would reduce its value to around £75.

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