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William III shilling

In 20 years of detecting I’ve seen dozens of William III sixpences but about four-fifths of them were bent to be used as love tokens. I’ve seen far fewer William III shillings and they have all been unbent. In terms of their condition when found, roughly 90% of both denominations turn up very worn.

Pictured here is one of the best William III shillings I have seen as a detecting find. The finder, who wished to remain anonymous, asked for a full ID and a valuation. He said the coin was found during a detecting rally.

On the obverse is the third bust of William III with a letter C below it. The C stands for Chester, which was one of the provincial mints set up to increase the volume of production during the Great Recoinage of 1695-97. Besides London the other mints were Exeter, Norwich, Bristol and York.

On the reverse are the four shields of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. The date, 1697, is split by the crown above the English shield. 

I’ve only ever seen one William III shilling in better condition. This was also from a provincial mint and was shown to me many years since by a member of my detecting club. When I enquired about it a number of years later I was told that it had been hidden somewhere at his home but the finder couldn’t remember where. I know of another detectorist who used to hide things and then forgot exactly where he had put them. So, do take care when you are doing this, otherwise at some time in the future, when you are no longer in the same dwelling, someone might discover a cache of valuable detecting finds and be left wondering how they came to be there.


The obverse of this shilling would grade VF, the reverse almost VF. There is no sign of any scratches or scuffs and the overall condition it exceptional for a coin that will have been in the soil for around 300 years. To a collector, in today’s strong market, it shouldn’t be worth any less than £220.

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