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A pictorial tribute to the milled sixpence...

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Guest Stujoe

CHARLES II 1674-1685 (Sixpences minted from 1674-1684 all dates inclusive)


*Designed by John Roettier


Starting in 1674 we have the very first milled sixpence of them all, showing that even coins the size of a nickel are capable of some quite intricate designs. The quality of strike on these coins is superb, and these coins can be attractive in conditions as low as fine. The higher grade examples however, often acquire a pleasing tone. Notice that the entwined c's on the reverse are part of the design and are the monarch's initials, not provenance marks.


The one pictured has a fairly pleasing tone...





The Early Milled Sixpence series is known for its overdates as they are spread far and wide throughout.


An example of a 1675 coin with the 5/4 is pictured below, likewise a bluish grey tone, not unpleasing but not quite as nice as the previous coin, however this coin is scarcer than the preceding one and in a higher state of preservation...



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WILLIAM III & MARY II 1689-1694 (Minted 1693-1694)


*Designed by either James or Norbert Roettier; assisted by Henry Harris


Next example is one that is a fairly scarce coin to acquire, and in such a high grade as the one pictured below is somewhat rare. However making this coin somewhat more affordable is the fact that it has both been cleaned and has some rather significant die/flan flaws that detract from the design.


These William and Mary sixpences go back to the reign of Charles II for inspiration, most clearly seen with the interlinked W and M's on the reverse, that fulfils the same function as the earlier Charles II pieces with the interlinked C's.


The date is somewhat different on these as it reads across two lines...(the new style of date obviously confused someone at the mint as example of the 1693 issue exist with an inverse three)




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WILLIAM III 1694-1702 (Minted 1695-1701 all dates inclusive)


*Designed by James Roettier, Henry Harris and John Croker [aka Johann Crocker]


After Mary's death in 1694 William continued on alone. In 1696 there was a phenomenal recoinage with millions of sixpences and other contemporary denominations being poured out into circulation allowing the final withdrawal of the hammered silver coinage in 1696. The 1697 issue is also exceptionally common and the one pictured below is of a decent grade, but has some weak strike on the reverse near the lion of Nasseau in the centre of the shields. A reminder of William's Dutch background...




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ANNE 1702-1714 (Minted 1703, 1705, 1707, 1708, 1710 & 1711)


*Designed by John Croker


Next up is a Queen Anne 1711 Sixpence, quite possible the most encountered coin of the series in this reign, indeed they seem to have survived in all grades. Notice that the shields on the reverse now have the English shield and the Scottish shield both together. This symbolized the passing of the Act of Union in 1707 which joined the countries constitutionally and thus the coinage altered during that year to reflect this by altering the reverse.



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GEORGE I 1714-1727 (Minted 1717, 1720, 1723 & 1726)


*Obverse by John Croker, reverse by Johan Ochs Senior


Then comes the George I Sixpence. Undoubtedly this is the one that is most commonly encountered of his reign. It also happens to be the one with the SSC on the reverse, for South Sea Company.


The South Sea Company was famous, or rather infamous, as it had a big speculative bubble that burst and left thousands of investors ruined.


They supplied the silver for this coinage and thus their initials grace the reverse where the usual provenance marks are to be found. (Usually plumes or Roses, in later reigns frequently both).



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GEORGE II 1727-1760 (Minted 1728, 1731, 1732, 1734, 1735, 1736, 1739, 1741, 1743, 1745, 1746, 1750, 1751, 1757 & 1758)


*Young head obverse by John Croker, reverse by Johan Ochs junior


* Old head obverse designed by John Sigismund Tanner [hence the sixpence's nickname a Tanner!], reverse by Johan Ochs Junior


George II Sixpences prove to be one of the longest runs going, if not the most complex (that accolade goes to the William III coins). Here are two examples of the young head variety, the first one shows the provenance mark of PLUMES in angles denoting silver supplied by the Welsh Copper Company. The latter has ROSES in the reverse angles denoting silver from mines in the West of England, namely Cornwall.









Another George II Sixpence, which is a fairly low grade specimen with a very unappealing tone, picked up very cheaply none the less. This specimen shows both ROSES & PLUMES in the angles. The use of both Roses and Plumes denoted that the silver used for minting this issue had been supplied by 'The Company for smelting down lead with pitcoal and seacoal'.*






Then we come to the old head. These whilst not as attractive as the younger head coins, due mainly to the lower relief, these are the most affordable. The example below illustrates the coin bearing the word LIMA, numismatists however, are not entirely sure what the LIMA actually stands for. It appears to have nothing to do with a port by that name in Peru.




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GEORGE III 1760-1820 (Minted 1787, 1816-1820)


*Early Milled (1787 issue) designed by Lewis Pingo


*Late Milled (1816-1820 issue) designed by Benedetto Pistrucci


An example of a George III early milled sixpence of 1787 (the only year they were minted), this date comes in two varieties, the ones without the semee of hearts in the Hanoverian shield (the shield on the left, look above the rampant lion), and the one with the hearts.


Pictured is of a non-hearts variety.






By 1816 the state of the coinage was appalling, the effects of revolutions in Europe, the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars had created economic instability and sent the silver prices sky high. Most silver coins ceased to be minted in the 1750s leaving a terrible shortage that put further strain on the system, then all the disruptive events of the late Eighteenth Century happened in succession creating an even more disastrous effect on the coinage.


It was decided in 1816 that something radical had to be done and a massive mintage of new coins were introduced, of a reduced weight and minted by steam power rather than by hand operated presses. The quality of the new coins was far superior to those that they had replaced. In 1816 the new coins entered circulation and all silver and gold coins minted prior to 1816 were demonetised.


A typical George III Modern Milled sixpence...these remained legal tender until 1980.



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GEORGE IV 1820-1830 (Minted 1821-1829)


*TYPE 2 - Designed by Benedetto Pistrucci


*TYPE 3 - Obverse designed by William Wyon, Reverse by John Baptiste Merlen



Pistrucci continued in his post after the death of George III in 1820, and to him it fell to design the coins for the new reign.


Here is a type 2 George IV sixpence, the bulging portrait on the obverse found no favour with the king and after much complaint on his part, by 1825 Pistrucci had been sidelined to the medals department at the mint, and Wyon took over as Chief engraver.


The coin although depicting a rather unflattering portrait of the king, the artistic merit of the piece is undoubtely of exceptional quality, as is the overall quality of strike on these pieces.





Here is a type 3 George IV Sixpence with the lion on the crown reverse, this was the third type of George IV sixpences minted and they were considered to have a more flattering portrait that the earlier two.



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VICTORIA 1837-1901 (Minted 1838-1846, 1848, 1850-1901)


*Jubilee head (1887-1893) designed by Sir Joseph E Boehm


*Old head (1893-1901) designed by Sir Thomas Brock


A Victoria Jubilee head sixpence, this being the withdrawn type that only remained in circulation for several months before being withdrawn due to potential confusion with the half sovereign.




Image of the half sovereign to give a comparison between the two, they are similar but not totally alike. The main concern was that there was the potential of the sixpences being gilded and passed of as the higher denomination.





The withdrawn type was replaced by a reincarnation of the wreath reverse that had been in use since William IV in 1831.





However with the reverse sorted out, the obverse now came under scrutiny. Many people believed that the Queen looked somewhat ridiculous wearing such a small crown, so the series (although popular now) was very unpopular with contemporaries, and thus was replaced in 1893 with what was considered a more dignified portrait. The old head portrait would be used for the remainder of the reign.



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EDWARD VII 1901-1910 (Minted 1902-1910)


*Designed by George W De Saulles


1901 might have seen the death of Victoria but it didn't see the end of the lack lustre wreath reverse, which managed to remain in use into her successor's reign. Bearing in mind it had been in use since 1831, it thus celebrated its 70th anniversary, albeit the brief 1887 interruption. The Young head coins last minted in 1887 had the reverse as had those type two sixpences minted towards the very end of 1887.


The obverse of Edward VII likewise being rather plain and lack lustre when compared to some of the reverses such as that of the half crown, the florin and the shilling... all of which had new invigorating reverse, except for the shilling which was the 1825 reverse reincarnated in a new form. The obverse proves to be an absolute nightmare to grade...



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GEORGE V 1910-1936 (Minted 1911-1936)


*1911-1927 issue designed by Sir Bertram Mackennel, based on the design by Merlen


*1927-1936 issue; obverse by Bertram Mackennel, reverse by George Kruger Gray


With the accession of George V in 1910, came a new refreshing reverse. Or was it?


The wreath reverse finally went the way of the guinea after 79 years of use. The 'new' reverse followed in the same grain as the shilling had done in 1902. The old reverse was replaced by a new reverse that was based on an even older reverse than the one it had replaced. The lion on the crown design first arrived in 1825 and was replaced in 1831 with the wreath. The wreath was replaced in 1911 with the modified lion on crown reverse...





The new reverse didn't last long however, bowing out in 1927, by that time .500 silver had been used for making the coins for the past seven years, and this composition was harder than the original .925 silver. The design did not strike up all that well, and thus a newer lower relief design was chosen that would be more suitable for the harder alloy...



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GEORGE VI 1936-1952 (Minted 1937-1952)


*Obverse by Thomas Humphrey Paget, reverse by Kruger Gray


George VI succeeded in 1936 after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII who had been king for a brief 11 months. The new sixpence arrived the following year, a somewhat simpler design but none the less it maintained some eye appeal.




The alloy for striking these coins was changed in 1947 from .500 silver to Cupronickel, as the silver was needed to pay off debts to the US after the Second World War.


The next change came after India had gained independence in 1947. The reverse of the sixpence was altered in 1949 to reflect this by removing the IND IMP (Emperor of India), and the GRI (I = IMPERATOR) monogram was dropped in favour of a GVIR monogram.



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ELIZABETH II 1952-PRESENT (Minted 1953-1967 & 1970)


*Obverse by Mary Gillick, Reverse by Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas


The first issue of 1953 is a one type only issue, being the only year that BRITT OMN (of all the British possessions) was included in the obverse legend, it was omitted the following year when the dies were recut.


The striking on the 1953 issues is somewhat poor, as the whole issue was weak struck, (this goes for all the other denominations too), pictured below is an UNC example (believe it or not!)...





The coins minted in the subsequent years were of a higher standard than those of 1953, and notice the lack of the BRITT OMN...





The series ended with the coins dated 1967, the dies were used to strike coins well into 1968.


With Britain set to go decimal in 1971, there was no room for the sixpence thus mintage ceased in 1968. The decimal penny being worth 2.4 old pennies meant that the sixpence would become revalued at 2.5 new pence, it survived beyond 1971 as it was possible to get correct change for this particular denomination, unlike the threepence for example which became worth 1.25 new pence, the public would only have been able to spend them in twos otherwise it would be impossible to get correct change, same scenario with the penny. Thus the latter two were demonetised whilst the sixpence survived.


In 1970 just before decimalisation there was a special mintage of proofs in considerable numbers to mark the passing of pre-decimal currency into the history books...


below is one of those last sixpences...




By the late 1970s however, the government was discouraging the use of sixpences as they considered a 2 1/2p coin to be somewhat of an anomally, by this stage of course even the decimal halfpenny was considered pretty pointless. The sixpence was finally demonetised during the summer of 1980.

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  • 2 months later...

There was also a Edward VIII version that was either never issued or was extremly rare. I have an image of it in my Spink book, Once I get a scanner I will scan the image & post it on here unless the image already exists somewhere online?




found this link :




However they don't come cheap & in actual fact this wasn't the original design it was six rings that where joined together

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There was also a Edward VIII version that was either never issued or was extremly rare.  I have an image of it in my Spink book,  Once I get a scanner I will scan the image & post it on here unless the image already exists somewhere online?



Correct it has a reverse featuring six interlinked rings. Due to Edward's abdication however, it was never released. Very few were minted anyhow. I think there is at least one in existance, probably only a dozen of them at the most.


You will also notice James II is missing and a George IV type too.

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Correct it has a reverse featuring six interlinked rings. Due to Edward's abdication however, it was never released. Very few were minted anyhow. I think there is at least one in existance, probably only a dozen of them at the most.


You will also notice James II is missing and a George IV type too.



I think the most common of Edward VIII's coins (and even that is extremly rare) is the uniquely designed Brass threepence which was diffrent to the final version & a "small number" got into circulation

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That would be the Madge Kitchener pattern threepence. I actually really like that design much nicer than the one they adopted for the George VI coinage. Also be aware that Edward VIII brass threepences also exist with the George VI reverse. Presumably the George VI reverse was the winning design of the two.


I can't help wondering what would have happened if George V had lived longer. Would they have introduced the brass threepence in his reign or would they have waited for the new monarch anyhow?

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