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Lot 30625

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30625
Date (1657-58)
Country Great Britain
Service Catalog # 125487
Denomination Farthing
Description Cromwell copper Pattern Farthing (1657-1658), S-3230, Peck-390 (Very Rare), Fine Details (environmental damage) NGC. Variety with the inner beaded circle broken where it intersects with the forehead and the back of Cromwell?s head. That it is heavily worn and shows deposits of black oxidation on each side attests to the fact that this farthing remained in commerce for many years. The flan itself was well formed and is sound. ? This historic coin was one of a series of Farthings conceived during a difficult time and, in fact, gained acceptance as money after a number of earlier attempts at producing a Farthing coinage during the Commonwealth era had failed. The first efforts were private issues, and all failed to gain approval by, as Peck describes it, ?the anti-monopolistic attitude normally adopted by the Commonwealth authorities in all matters involving private interests.? When the Protectorate commenced on December 16, 1653, Cromwell became the deciding factor, and more attempts were made to produce a viable Farthing coin. The first series was styled after the Commonwealth types: one issue showed a shield on each side, and another featured a ship on one side and a shield on the other. These are classified as official patterns without portrait. Only the ship pattern in copper by David Ramage (symbolizing the Puritan concept of the State) escaped silver-plating by cunning men. Nonetheless, a decision was made ?exactly when or by whose authority is unknown ? to replace the ship with an image of Oliver Cromwell as Protector, using an appropriate obverse legend. Students of the coinage believe that these Farthings were struck at the Tower of London by copying Thomas Simon?s dies for the silver coinage. The portrait first appeared on a Halfcrown dated 1656. Records from the time are vague but Ramage probably prepared the dies. This and all similar portrait farthings were made from late 1657 into 1658, the dates of most Cromwell coinage. Half a dozen varieties were created, with slightly varying positioning of the portrait combined with reverses featuring three different legends. The present example, probably the first type made, has the legend CHARITIE AND CHANGE, a political message with an ironic twist: The charity was directed only toward the favored, and the change was ever so short lived. Reality came to the fore, however, and this little Farthing, though it displayed the portrait of the man who refused to be called king and was despised by Royalists, continued to be useful in commerce long after the Lord Protector?s actual head rotted off its spike ? where it was displayed by the Thames following his downfall. Realized $4,700.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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