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Elizabeth I AR Sixpence, 1562: my earliest milled coin. What's yours?


DonnaML
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Posted (edited)

I bought this 1562 sixpence in the most recent St. James auction, and it has become my earliest milled (i.e., machine-made rather than hammered) coin. (Previously, my earliest milled coins were a 1624 AR Broad Taler from Saxe-Altenburg, a 1626 AR Broad Taler from Saxony (Albertine Line), and a Charles I AR Shilling from 1638-1639, all of which I've previously posted here and/or at Coin Talk.)

England, Elizabeth I, AR Sixpence 1562 (Milled), by Eloye Mestrelle.* Obv. Crowned and mantled bust left [large broad bust, frosted crown], with elaborately decorated dress, small Tudor Rose behind, ELIZABETH.D.G.ANG.FRA.ET.HIB.REGINA [Elizabeth by the Grace of God Queen of England France and Ireland] [curly “Z” in Elizabeth] around; following legend, mm. Star / Rev. Quartered shield over long cross pattée with divided date 15-62 above shield; POSVI-DEVM.AD-IVTORE-M·MEVM [I have made God my helper] around; before legend, mm. Star. 26 mm., 3.43 g.  S. 2597 [Spink, Standard Catalogue of British Coins, Coins of England & the United Kingdom, Pre-Decimal Issues, 57th Edition 2022, at p. 271]. Purchased at St. James’s Auctions No. 62, 14 Jun 2022, Lot 600; ex Spink 1976 (from Spink Numismatic Circular[?], Jan. 1976, with two old coin tickets. Stated condition: "slight edge crimp, almost very fine"; scratches.

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*See Spink p. 261: “Coins of exceedingly fine workmanship were produced in a screw press introduced by Eloye Mestrelle, a French moneyer, in 1561. With parts of the machinery powered by a horse-drawn mill, the coins produced came to be known as ‘mill money.” Despite the superior quality of the coins produced, the machinery was slow and inefficient compared to striking by hand. Mestrelle’s dismissal was engineered in 1572 and six years later he was hanged for counterfeiting.” After 1571, milled coinage was not reintroduced until the reign of Charles I in 1631, by Nicholas Briot (see Spink p. 288), and did not entirely supercede the minting of hammered coinage until 1663, under Charles II, after Peter Blondeau’s machinery was introduced (see id. p. 344).

For comparison purposes, here's my Elizabeth I hammered AR sixpence from 1582, 20 years later (S. 2572). 25 mm., 3.2 g.

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Please post your own earliest milled coins, from whatever country they originate.

Edited by DonnaML
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Beautiful coins Donna. A few hundred years earlier than mine.

This is from The Electorate of Saxony (Albertinian Line), milled at the Dresden Mint as a single year of issue in 1763, as per the FWoF on reverse. Composition of .833 Silver and I am unable to find any mintage figures. Obverse has Friedrich Christian, armored bust facing right. Reverse crowned arms with date at end of legend. A part of the currency Thaler (1493-1805) this is a conventionthaler, equivalent to 4/3 Saxon Thaler or 1/10 of a Cologne Mark. Weight is 28.8 grams and has a diameter of 43mm.

 

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20211128_101118 (2).jpg

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qeisixpence1562.jpg.12a8de295a1503c6782ef5dfd6e630be.jpg

England - Milled Sixpence London Mint 1562

I purchased this example from Pegasi Numismatics in the early 1990s and only owned it for about 4 years.  I thence gave it to my then fiancé  to have in the tradition of giving a tanner to your intended.  She has owned it since then.  There are several superstitions about tanners, particularly if the intended refuses they bend the coin and cast it off - you can find examples so damaged.  

I might have some early French jetons struck on screw presses but cannot think of what or where they are at the moment.

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29 minutes ago, UkrainiiVityaz said:

qeisixpence1562.jpg.12a8de295a1503c6782ef5dfd6e630be.jpg

England - Milled Sixpence London Mint 1562

I purchased this example from Pegasi Numismatics in the early 1990s and only owned it for about 4 years.  I thence gave it to my then fiancé  to have in the tradition of giving a tanner to your intended.  She has owned it since then.  There are several superstitions about tanners, particularly if the intended refuses they bend the coin and cast it off - you can find examples so damaged.  

I might have some early French jetons struck on screw presses but cannot think of what or where they are at the moment.

Nice! So, same type as mine, I guess, except a cross "fourchée."

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8 minutes ago, Alegandron said:

Perhaps not...

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England - Elizabeth I 1558-1603 AR Sixpence 3rd-4th issue crescent mintmark

Do you mean, perhaps not your earliest, or perhaps it's not a milled coin in the first place?

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1 minute ago, DonnaML said:

Do you mean, perhaps not your earliest, or perhaps it's not a milled coin in the first place?

I knew Elizabeth produced some of the first milled, however, I know little of milled history or of my English coins. I do not know if this one is milled. I suspect hammered. Hence, “perhaps not.” 🙂 

I am still learning. This is why I am here. 

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Alegandron said:

I knew Elizabeth produced some of the first milled, however, I know little of milled history or of my English coins. I do not know if this one is milled. I suspect hammered. Hence, “perhaps not.” 🙂 

I am still learning. This is why I am here. 

Before looking it up, my guess would have been hammered as well: it's not as perfectly round as a milled coin should be. And after looking it up in Spink, I can say it's definitely hammered, because none of Elizabeth's milled sixpences (or shillings) used the crescent mintmark -- only the star and the lis (as in fleur de lis). So It seems that it's a hammered sixpence, 6th issue (not 3rd-4th, which also didn't use the crescent mintmark). The catalogue number is S. 2578A, minted from 1582-1589, which did use the crescent among its mintmarks. It's the variant with the Queen's name spelled "ELIZAB" rather than "ELIZABETH." 

Edited by DonnaML
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13 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

Before looking it up, my guess would have been hammered as well: it's not as perfectly round as a milled coin should be. And after looking it up in Spink, I can say it's definitely hammered, because none of Elizabeth's milled sixpences (or shillings) used the crescent mintmark -- only the star and the lis (as in fleur de lis). So It seems that it's a hammered sixpence, 6th issue (not 3rd-4th, which also didn't use the crescent mintmark). The catalogue number is S. 2578A, minted from 1582-1589, which did use the crescent among its mintmarks. It's the variant with the Queen's name spelled "ELIZAB" rather than "ELIZABETH." 

Thank you very much.

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Posted (edited)

I tried looking up the first milled coin in Europe, and although the answer wasn't as easy to find as I expected, it's apparently this one -- a  French "teston" of Henri II minted in 1551, or about a decade before Elizabeth I's first milled coins:

image.jpeg.badc438e9f42e08303c587ac3c68c727.jpeg

See this explanation at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/dictionarydetail/516712:

"History of the screw press.  The concept of screw press had been used in mid 1400s for both printing and squeezing fruits and olives. The first screw press for striking numismatic items was developed by an Italian, Donato Bramante (1444-1514) in 1506 for striking lead seals for Pope Julius II (1503-13). This principle was described and illustrated by Benvenuto Cellini in his work on goldsmithing and he used a screw press in 1530 for striking his own lead seals for Pope Clemente VII (1523- 34).

In Augsburg, Germany in 1550, Max (or Marx) Schwab improved on the screw press and attempted to sell this to the mint in Venice. Unsuccessful there he did exhibit his "engines" (a term used for screw presses, hubbing presses and rolling mills) to a French ambassador leading to the purchase by King Henry II, for the royal mint in Paris (delivered in January 1551). Later Spanish emissaries visited Schwab to learn of his techniques and machines.

The screw press was installed at the Paris Mint. An employee there, Eloye Mestrel, learned its operation very well, but became dissatisfied with the lack of acceptance of the new press by moneyers who feared their hammer technique would be replaced. Mestrel fled, in 1561, to England and set up a screw press at the London Mint. Following this early use in Italy, Germany, France and England, use of the screw press spread to other mints throughout Europe. Despite an attempt to use roller dies to impress blank strip, later to be cut out (the process known as taschenwerke), the screw press thrived and was widely used for striking."

Edited by DonnaML
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I have German thalers from the 16th century, as well as a 1590 Segovia 8 reales that were struck with roller dies.  However, they are not milled coins, since they were not struck with a collar die.  In fact, even when coin presses were introduced in Mexico and other colonies in Latin America, the edge design was produced using edging machine in colonial times.  This technique carried over into the republican periods of the newly independent countries.

So, my earlies milled coin would be the Cromwell Crown of 1658.

Oliver Cromwell, AR crown, 1658 over 7.

S-2945A

30.1  grams

1450211088_D-CameraOliverCromwellcrown1658over7GlennShincke30.1gS-2945A11-22-20.jpg.8494398435cc08aa5cc1d2fa6c8958c8.jpg

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My earliest milled here would be this one I guess :

cbc9a18bbd9a4e7f95ca5829d1286d24.jpg

Louis XIII (1610-1643) - Quart d'ecu d'argent du 3° type 1643 A - Atelier de Paris (A)
LVDOVICVS . XIII . D .G . FR . ET . NAV . REX, buste lauré, drapé et cuirassé a l'antique à droite
rose SIT . NOMEN . DOMINI BENEDICTVM . 1643, ecu de France couronné, A à la pointe de l'ecu
6.86 gr
Ref : Ciani # 1661v

Q

Edited by Qcumbor
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Scotland Queen Mary ~ Ryal or 30/- or 360d 1565-1567, with tortoise climbing palm tree(the arms of Lord Darnley).

 

maryryal1566.jpg.5d09468c245245c74e32fb410a46c279.jpg

 

Here is an example of a coin with Mary's personal history being played out on the coinage, the inclusion of Lord Henry Darnley's name on the coin as her consort. In an age when it was viewed that a woman could not reign without a man, and a notably passionate woman, she would fall prey to suitors such as Lord Darnley, and later James Bothwell. This would play out tragically in 1567 with the murder of Lord Darnley, her being suspected of having some complicity, and then her unseemly hastened marriage to James Bothwell.

This particular coin was later referred to as a Crookestone Dollar allegedly referring to a Yew Tree in Crookestone Park where it was believed that Lord Darnley courted Queen Mary. But in fact, the tortoise climbing the palm tree is his arms, and doesn't refer to the park.

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As far as England is concerned, hammer struck coinage dominated until the Restoration with Charles II.  The machine struck coins of Elizabeth I were a very limited run.  The mint, bound in tradition and probably self interest, continued to produce hammer struck coins through the reign of Charles I and the Commonwealth, with the exception of the 1658 Cromwell crown, half crown and shilling.

Other nations, notably The Netherlands,  also produced hammer struck coinage through the 1600s.

France, as noted, began producing some milled coins in the middle of the 1500s, and began to produce only milled coins starting with Louis XIII.

Spain produced a mix of hammer struck coins (vast majority) and some machine struck coins (roller dies) starting a Segovia in 1588.

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Wow, @DonnaML, that is an amazing example!! 🤯

I got my rather more worn Lizzie milled sixpence ages ago from Frank Robinson:

image.jpeg.fa8fc63a50b89087712def870ca83f6d.jpeg

Dated 1568.  At the time I thought it was the first milled coinage (well, not the earliest date of the Lizzies, obviously) but when I found out that les Français got there first I realized I needed a Henry!  Quite recently I managed to land one, finally, dated 1554 (Henri II, Teston à la tête laurée):

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I was amazed to be the only bidder.  Haven't been able to take my own photo yet.  I do wish cgb would drop that watermark...

Edited by Severus Alexander
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12 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

At the time I thought it was the first milled coinage (well, not the earliest date of the Lizzies, obviously) but when I found out that les Français got there first I realized I needed a Henry!  

Yes it was the same Frenchmen who came over to England after being driven out of the Paris mint, but were soon driven out of London for the same reasons.

I also have an Elizabeth I 1562 sixpence. Sixpences were by far the most common denomination Mestrelle produced. I believe this was the 4th type of sixpence Mestrelle issued (circa June 1562) out of the couple of dozen designs he made in a short space of time.

Elizabeth I Milled Sixpence by Eloy Mestrelle, 1562

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Tower. Silver, 2.98g. Bust C, large rose behind head, mintmark star; ELIZABETH · D · G · ANG · FRA · ET · HIB · REGINA. Quartered shield of arms of England and France on long cross pattée, 1562 above; POSVI DEVM · AD IVTORE M · MEVM (S 2595).

It's done rather better than my hammered sixpence from more than a decade later...

Elizabeth I Hammered 3rd and 4th Issue Sixpence, 1573

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Tower. Silver, 2.74g. Larger bust, rose behind, within inner circle; ELIZAB.D.G.ANG.FR.ET.HI.REGINA. Quartered shield of arms of England and France over long cross fourchée with 1573 divided above, within inner circle; POSVI DEV.AD IVTORE M·MEV· (S 2563). From the Ryhall (Rutland) Hoard 1987, which comprised 1 gold and 3,220 silver pieces buried in a wooden box around April 1643 during the English Civil War. At the time, the Parliamentarians were trying to raise money from the locals, many of whom were Royalists.

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While not a milled coin, this is my earliest machine struck crown.

Germany, Saxony, Elector Frederick III and John, George, AR  Gulden (Klappmützentaler), mint mark. Cross (1512–1523), Annaberg.

Dav 9709

28.9 grams

This coin was formerly mounted, and the fields have been smoothed.  Scarce.

2011430396_D-CameraGermanySaxonyFrederickIIIJohnGeorgeGulden(Klappmtzentaler)Mmz.Cross(15121523)AnnabergDav970928.9g6-23-22.jpg.b3a7f94183e51de8f8ad212052c01255.jpg

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Eloye Mestrelle was implicated in a counterfeiting scheme and that coupled with labour issues in the Tower Mint' ie the mint workers were strongly opposed to the milled coinage that saw the whole milled coinage programme stopped until the 1660s whence after the restoration of Charles II to the throne it was determined that coinage would be significantly less likely to be counterfeited with machine struck coinage.

Hammered coinage would continue to circulate, oft at a discount for wear, until the great recoinage in 1696 in which branch mints were set up throughout England.  I bought a heavily worn 1696 halfcrown that was struck in Exeter from a dealer in Indianapolis out of a junk silver box for $8 back in 2019:

 

enghalfcrown1696.jpg.2877ebe7368911ca2eb1e36c53662993.jpg

 

Beaten to all hell, but one of my cooler junk silver box finds.

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Oh, No, this is when I wish I'd taken my own pics of a sweet run of half-groats, Elizabeth I to initial, Restoration issues of Charles II.  ...As @DonnaML asked for, in the other forum.  (Donna, you're welcome to throw something --it's richly deserved-- just, preferably, nothing too ripe.)  Of the Charles II ones (early 1660's), the earlier one is milled; the later one goes right back to being hammered.

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I have an early Charles II milled halfgroat. It's listed in Spink under 'hammered' with a note to say it is 'machine made'. All coins were milled from 1662.

Charles II Undated Milled Twopence, 1660-1662

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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). Ex William Christopher Boyd.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Magnificent example, @John Conduitt.  ...But my edition of Spink(2015) picks up from no.s 3317 and 3318 (both noted as 'machine made;' mine 3318) with the unmistakably hammered 3rd issue (ditto; 3326), from the same interval.  ...Right, I was just trying to persuade a now-antiquated camera to work, for this very run of halfgroats /tuppence and pence, and lost the argument.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, John Conduitt said:

Yes it was the same Frenchmen who came over to England after being driven out of the Paris mint, but were soon driven out of London for the same reasons.

I also have an Elizabeth I 1562 sixpence. Sixpences were by far the most common denomination Mestrelle produced. I believe this was the 4th type of sixpence Mestrelle issued (circa June 1562) out of the couple of dozen designs he made in a short space of time.

Elizabeth I Milled Sixpence by Eloy Mestrelle, 1562

image.png.22c407c298df1a99c0bec009a335f755.png

Tower. Silver, 2.98g. Bust C, large rose behind head, mintmark star; ELIZABETH · D · G · ANG · FRA · ET · HIB · REGINA. Quartered shield of arms of England and France on long cross pattée, 1562 above; POSVI DEVM · AD IVTORE M · MEVM (S 2595).

 

@John Conduitt, I notice a typo in the description of your 1562 Elizabeth I milled sixpence: it's a long cross fourchée (forked), as opposed to a long cross pattée as you describe it. Compare it to mine, which is a long cross "pattée" -- somewhat reminiscent of a German Iron Cross.

I might as well post this photo of my second-earliest English milled coin, a Charles I shilling:

Charles I, Briot's Second Milled issue, 1638-1639, Shilling, late bust, short cross fourchée extending to inner circle, mm. anchor at 12:00, dies unsigned, 5.91 g, 6 h.  SCBI Brooker 728, same dies; S. 2859 (ill. p. 299). Purchased from Noonans Auction 251, 8-9 Mar 2022, Lot 219.

image.png.eda5e2490de0ba98939106ae67fe1014.png

Edited by DonnaML
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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Wow, @DonnaML, that is an amazing example!! 🤯

 

Thank you, @Severus Alexander.  I admit that I was surprised that St. James's described it only as "almost Very Fine," given the very high level of detail.  It just goes to show how standards differ among dealers, and among different kinds of coins. If an ancient coin looked like that, most dealers wouldn't hesitate to call it Extra Fine, and I can think of several who would describe it as "AU"! All of which is why I tend to ignore grades (even from TPG's), and make my decisions entirely on the basis of how much I like the way a coin looks in its photograph.

Edited by DonnaML
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18 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

I notice a typo in the description of your 1562 Elizabeth I milled sixpence: it's a long cross fourchée (forked), as opposed to a long cross pattée as you describe it.

Thank you. I seem to have lifted that part of the description from Numista, so I will correct their page! 

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