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Copyright NE, 2006

The COMMON.WEALTH Coinage

1656/5 Reverse Obverse with COMMON.WEALTH legend

1656/5

         During the Commonwealth period coins with an obverse legend incorporating the word COMMON.WEALTH were produced for several denominations in various years. The significance of this legend variation is unknown. Shown above is a 1656/5 shilling with this design on the obverse side of the coin.

         The most common example of this variant is usually seen for shillings of early 1652. In this year there were several obverse and reverse die combinations in use representing either 1652/1 or 1652. English Silver Coinage suggests that the 1652 shilling with this obverse variant is very rare and is classified as Rare 3. Due to the number of die variants in use at the time, it is more likely that this coin collectively is nearer to Rare than Rare 3 and collectors should be aware of this.  

1652 over 1 reverse die. Obverse with the new style
Obverse with the old style
1652 over 1 reverse.
1652 reverse. Obverse with the old style
Obverse with the new style
1652 Reverse

1652/1

1652/1

1652

1652

         Forgeries of this type of coinage are also known to exist, for example a 1660 anchor shilling..

Forgery - obverse 1660 shilling.
Forgery, 1660 reverse

1660

A Tale of two “A”s ?

Old style

         This style is typical of that seen on Cromwell period coinage. When one looks at the obverse die used to produce the 1652 shilling with the
COMMON.WEALTH mark one sees a second style of A

         Could it be that the
COMMON.WEALTH variant was set up to mark this as a trial of an alternate style of ”A” which was only used in 1652. A COMMON.WEALTH die with the typical style “A” was subsequently used in later years - 1656.

Which obverse die is rarer is a good question - intuitively one might guess the die with the alternate style of “A” would be the rarer type as it’s use seems to have been abandoned after 1652..

The story does not finish there however as in 1654 a variant of the letter “V” and “W” both with rounded corners reminiscent of the “A” which failed, started to appear on coinage, but not always together..

The new V seen on some coinage from 1654 onwards.
New style
The new W seen on some coinage from 1654 onwards.

The use of the new style upside down “V” for an “A” was not unheard of as can be seen below on a Commonwealth shilling of 1654 where on the obverse side the “A” in England has been replaced with an upside down “V”.

Upside down V for A in ENGLAND.
1654 Shilling reverse.

ex Manville