Richard III and Medieval Coins

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Richard III and Medieval Coins

The last of the Plantagenets and the last ruler from the House of York, Richard III was the last medieval king of England. Since the much disputed discovery of his remains under a car park in Leicester, interest in historic artefacts related to Richard III has increased. For collectors of medieval coins, that interest has increased the value of coins from this period.


Coinage from Richard III's Reign

Richard III's short reign began when Edward IV died on 9 April 1483. He himself died in battle at Bosworth on 22 August 1485. During those two brief years, Britain coined almost 1,300 pounds of gold, approximately half the annual gold hammered coin production that occurred during Edward IV's second reign. Silver coin was also struck at a high rate with almost 12,000 pounds of silver coined during Richard III's reign. The hammered silver coins are the most available coins from the reign of Richard III. They look ill-formed but contain very precise amounts of extremely pure silver. The irregular shape is a result of hammering on a die.


Details of Coins from Richard III's Reign

The gold Angel, weighing 5.18 grams, was the most widely used of the period's gold coins. The face image shows St. Michael spearing a dragon. The reverse shows a sailing ship with a cross as a mast and a shield with the arms of England and France. Richard's 'R' and a rose appear on opposite sides of the mast. The four-penny silver groat has a stylised portrait of the king on the front with a Latin inscription. Richard's own emblems, the boar's head and the white rose of the York family, appear at the start of the text. The reverse, like other medieval silver coins, shows a cross and pellets. Smaller silver coins show the same designs with a shorter legend. These hammered coins were struck at several locations, including York and the Tower of London, and by the Archbishops of York and Durham. They all have marks indicating their origin.


Richard III and Medieval Coins as Investments

The values of medieval coins depend on rarity, condition, and provenance. A gold Angel in near pristine condition found near the site of the Battle of Bosworth brought an exceptionally high price at auction. Coins from Richard III's reign are extremely rare. Silver groats and many other silver coins are more common than the gold Angels and half-Angels. Silver farthings from the period were small, and very few of these coins survived.

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