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What Should Charles III Coins Look Like?

John Conduitt

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The BBC have a somewhat superficial article on Elizabeth II's coinage Queen Elizabeth II: Coins that are a Pocketful of History, with some speculation as to what Charles III's coins might look like. There's the question as to whether Charles will wear a crown or be bareheaded. I favour returning to the forward facing bust, particularly given Charles's ears. It certainly emphasised the big hair of Henry VI (and Henrys IV, V and VII, Edwards I, II, III, IV and V, and Richards II and III).

Henry VI Rosette-Mascle Groat, 1430-1431
Calais. Silver, 26mm, 3.82g. Crowned facing bust in tressure of arches, with rosettes & mascles in legend; + hЄnRIC DI GRΛ RЄX ΛnGL’ Z FRΛnC. Long cross pattee, trefoils in quarters, rosettes and mascles in legend; + POSVI DЄVm ΛDIVTORЄ mЄVm; VIL LA CALI SIE (S 1859).

There's also speculation about the Royal titles that might feature. Perhaps, like Charles I, he could use the coinage to lay claim to France on no grounds whatsoever. It would certainly make Brexit interesting.

Charles I Group D Shilling, 1635-1636
Tower. Silver, 29mm, 5.96g. Fourth bust type 3a with falling lace collar, facing left, large XII behind bust, no inner circle; mint mark crown; CAROLUS D GMAG BRI FR ET HIB REX. Round garnished shield with no inner circle mint mark crown; CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO (S 2791). "Charles by the grace of God King of Scotland, England, France and Ireland". He really was not in any way King of France.

Presumably, there's no need for Latin either. English would make him more a man of the people. Although changing to English would bring unwanted comparisons to Cromwell.

Commonweath Shilling, 1651
Tower. Silver, 32mm, 5.8g. English shield within laurel and palm branch; mintmark sun; THE. COMMONWEALTH. OF. ENGLAND. English and Irish shields, value .XII. above, beaded circle, date at top; .GOD. WITH. VS. (S 3217). The first English coin with legends in English.

Inevitably, the article refers to the direction the monarch faces i.e. each in alternate directions. The guy from the Oxford Numismatic Society states:

"The tradition was started by Charles II, who wanted to turn his back on Puritan coins."

Now, I don't know where this idea comes from. Is there some statement from Charles II along these lines? There are a few inconsistencies that make it questionable.

  • If he wanted to 'turn his back on Puritan coins', then the Puritan coins would have to be facing in the other direction. In which case, it was the Puritan coins that started the tradition, not Charles II. Perhaps they were turning their back on the monarchy. In which case, Charles I would have had to be facing in the other direction...
  • The Commonwealth did not have portraits on their coins. They were Puritan, after all. There was no-one to turn your back on. True, Thomas Simon created portrait coins of Oliver Cromwell, but Cromwell died before they circulated.
  • On Simon's patterns, Cromwell faces left. On most of Charles II's circulating coinage, he also faces left.
  • But actually, Charles II faces in both directions.
  • And anyway, James II also faces in both directions, and predominantly left.

Here's Charles II facing left, like Cromwell and James II. But on the Maundy money (which, in fact, circulated) he faces right. He also faces right on the circulating sixpence, the milled shilling, halfcrown and crown, the half guinea, the guinea, and the 2 and 5 guineas. If he's turning his back on Puritans, he has no idea where they are.

Charles II Undated Milled Twopence, 1660-1662
Tower. Silver, 12mm, 1.01g. Bust left to bottom of coin, single arched crown, II behind, toothed border; legend from lower left, CAROLVS. II. D. G. M. B. F. &. H. REX. Long cross fourchée over quartered shield of arms, initial mark crown on reverse only; legend from upper right, CHRISTO. AVSPICE. REGNO (S 3318).

It's William III who starts the tradition, facing right with Mary, and then facing right on his own, never facing left. Although to be fair, one monarch in one direction is not a tradition of alternating directions. It's Anne who starts the tradition by facing only left.

Anne Sixpence, 1703
Tower. Silver, 21mm, 3.01g. Draped bust left, in fillet; ANNA DEI GRATIA; VIGO below bust. Crowned cruciform shields for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland; MAG BR.FRA ET.HIB REG (S 3590).

So the tradition goes back to the 18th century, not all that far at all. If Charles III wants tradition, a front facing bust would be much more appropriate. Or for something really traditional that goes right back to our roots, perhaps he should go for a Saxon look. Ironically, it'd be much more modern than the dour design they'll inevitably come up with.

Burgred Lunette Type A Penny, 852-874
London. Silver, 19.5mm, 1.36g. Bust (type V5) right; BURGREDREX+. +BEAGZTA in between [N]MON | ETA (Beagstan moneyer); two clowed lunettes divide the legend (S 938).

What should Charles III's coins look like?

Edited by John Conduitt
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3 hours ago, Restitutor said:

I just hope they somehow incorporate “Charles the Finally” into the legend 😂

Well, I would guess he's Charles the Oldest -- has anyone ascended the throne before at 70+? I believe Edward VII was only 60. 

By the way, Anne was also the first to face in the opposite direction from her predecessor on her official coronation medal: she faced left, while William & Mary, James II, Charles II, and Charles I had all faced right, although Charles I did face left on his Scottish coronation medal. (There was, of course, no separate coronation for William III.) George I confirmed the trend of alternating directions by facing right, and the alternating continued until George VI, who faced left like his father. Although I suppose there was a pretense that he was complying with the alternating because Edward VIII would have theoretically faced right on his medal had he been crowned -- even though he made clear that he would refuse to be portrayed facing right on coins or medals. There was no official coronation medal struck for Elizabeth II, and I would think it unlikely that that will change with Charles.

Edited by DonnaML
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I would imagine that it will be a profile portrait, without a crown. 

A three-quarters facing profile would be a first, I think, for a UK coin, but I doubt that will be done.  If well engraved it would really look nice.


Edited by robinjojo
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8 hours ago, robinjojo said:

I would imagine that it will be a profile portrait, without a crown. 

A three-quarters facing profile would be a first, I think, for a UK coin, but I doubt that will be done.  If well engraved it would really look nice.

Yes I think it will be too. Left facing, of course.

Three-quarters facing has been done before - but by Henry VIII and Edward VI, so perhaps again the precedent isn't one Charles would want to follow.

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6 hours ago, GregH said:

Will Charles be styled in Latin as "CAROLVS III"?

Interesting question. I guess there wasn't a medieval Latin form of Elizabeth. All the Georges were GEORGIVS, the Edwards were EDWARDVS and Victoria is already Latin. They've avoided it on commemorative coins by calling him 'The Prince of Wales'.

Edited by John Conduitt
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On 9/19/2022 at 7:01 AM, John Conduitt said:

Interesting question. I guess there wasn't a medieval Latin form of Elizabeth. All the Georges were GEORGIVS, the Edwards were EDWARDVS and Victoria is already Latin. They've avoided it on commemorative coins by calling him 'The Prince of Wales'.


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On 9/30/2022 at 11:00 PM, panzerman said:

I hope they keep the Pistrucci classic design for the AV 5/2/1/1/2 Sovereigns. Even nicer if they minted a retro design like the 1989 500th Anniversary for Elizabeth II.

For better or worse, they have not done so, at least for the first Charles III gold issues. Instead, they are using a new reverse design by Jody Clark. 

Here is my new Charles III AV Proof Half-Sovereign, along with photos of some of the accompanying materials. By the time I placed the order last month, the Royal Mint was no longer selling the new gold issues -- they did so only through the end of December -- so I had to buy it from a private company. I decided to pay the premium for a proof specimen rather than the less-expensive "brilliant uncirculated" alternative in a "blister pack," on the theory that it would probably be more attractive, and, as the first issue of this monarch, reasonably likely to retain its value. Not that I have any intention of ever selling it!

They definitely aren't using "CAROLVS"!

United Kingdom, Charles III AV Proof Half-Sovereign 2022 in wood case, Queen Elizabeth II Memorial. Obv. Bare head of Charles III left (by Martin Jennings), CHARLES III·DEI·GRA·REX·FID·DEF· / Rev. The Royal Arms, at its centre a crowned and quartered shield supported by a crowned English lion on the left and a Scottish unicorn on the right (by Jody Clark); beneath shield, DIEU ET MON DROIT, date 2022 below. 19.3 mm., 3.99 g. Mintage: 6,480 total including 3,000 individual proof half-sovereigns in cases. COA No. 0670. Purchased from Britannia Coin Co., Royal Wootton Bassett, UK, March 2023.

The coin was bit difficult to photograph even after removing it from the capsule it came in, given how shiny it is. This was the best I could do:


Some of what came with it:

Descriptions of the obverse and reverse designs:



The specifications:


The COA:


The wood box:



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On 9/30/2022 at 3:18 PM, John Conduitt said:

Yes it is a bit odd to go with a mixture of English and Latin. 'Charles' but 'Rex' and '50' but 'III'. I suppose it's more odd with '50 pence' than 'Charles', where a Latin version of a non-Latin name has had to be invented.

...Well, um, except, to wallow in the obvious (never stopped me before), English coins have a tradition of bilingual legends, starting at least from later Anglo-Saxon pennies, with the title, if not the name (back to the discussion of Elizabeth:* to @John Conduitt's point, was there ever a Latin form of 'AEthelred'?) on the obverse, and the moneyer's name and mint in Old to Middle English on the reverse.  Right, this is carried down to Henry III's voided long crosses, c. 1272.

*I dimly recall written primary sources having distinctly medieval Latin versions of other Elizabeths, maybe relating to northeastern France as of the 11th-12th centuries.  Fast forward to the height of the English Renaissance, and it's easy to see why people would have turned up their noses at such noticably idiosyncratic, post-Classical Latin. 

Edited by JeandAcre
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I considered posting this new acquisition in my recent thread about British coronation medals, but technically it's a coin, with a denomination of 5 GBP, not a medal. In fact, not only was there no official coronation medal for Charles III -- as was also the case for his mother -- there weren't even any unofficial medals so far as I know, by contrast to the many issued for Elizabeth II. (There are a couple of them visible in my virtual tray in the other thread.) However, this new "coin" is non-circulating despite having a denomination, so I suppose one could argue that for all practical purposes it's no different from a coronation medal. Note that the obverse legend is in Latin, with the reverse legend in English. It's also the first "piedfort" strike I've ever bought. 

Charles III 2023 AR (.925) Proof Piedfort Five Pounds (Crown), Coronation of Charles III, in case, S. ___; Numista Catalogue # 363645. Obv. Crowned portrait of King Charles III left; around, legend CHARLES III·D·G·REX·F·D·5 POUNDS·2023· [Unabridged legend: Charles III Dei Gratia Rex Fidei Defensor, Translation: Charles the Third by the Grace of God King Defender of the Faith]; small MT below bust truncation [Obverse Designer Martin Jennings] / Rev. St. Edward's Crown with the Sovereign's Sceptres; around, legend THE CORONATION OF KING CHARLES III with date 6 MAY 2023 beneath, both above crown; Designer: Timothy Noad / Edge Plain with incuse lettering; Lettering: • GOD SAVE OUR GRACIOUS KING. Mint: Royal Mint, Llantrisant, United Kingdom. 38.61 mm., 56.56 g. Issued on 24th April 2023 to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey on 6th May 2023. Issue Limit: 3,260; this specimen no.: 2,913. Purchased Nov. 2023.








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