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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Extremely Rare Counterstamped Issue of 1534/5

CNG 88, Lot: 2107. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $1700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IRELAND. Henry VIII, with Anne Boleyn. 1509-1547. AR Sixpenny Groat (24mm, 2.22 g, 12h). Countermarked 1st Harp issue. London mint; mm: coronet. Struck 1534/5. hЄnRI C9 : VIII D’ : G’ : R’ ΛGLIЄ’ : Z (double saltire stops), crowned coat-of-arms over long cross fourchée / FRΛnCЄ : DOmInVS : hIBЄRnIЄ’ (double saltire stops), crowned harp; crowned h Λ across field; in lower right field, cross botonnée in incuse countermark. For host coin: Carlyon-Britton, Henry VIII, HG 1 corr. (ΛGLIЄ’ ×); D&F 201; SCBI 22 (Copenhagen), 405; SCBC 6472. For countermark: Carlyon-Britton, Henry VIII, p. 139 and pl. X, 15; Millenial Collection of Irish Coinage (Whyte’s, 29 April 2000), lot 156; SCBC 6484B. VF, toned. Extremely rare with the countermark on this early issue, and possibly unique.

Purchased from A. H. Baldwin, 10 March 1966 for £2/10/-.

Known examples with this countermark are usually on Henry’s 6th Harp issue groats, struck during the final year of his reign. Colgan, For Want of Good Money, p. 85, suggests that the countermark may signify a later reduction of the host coin’s value from the sixpenny groat to fourpence during the reign of Edward VI. By the time of Henry’s death, the silver coinage in Ireland (as well as in England) had become so debased that the country was in a state of financial ruin. Officials and soldiers found that their pay, made in these base issues, was insufficient to keep up with inflation. The intrinsic value of earlier issues became increasingly more important than its notional value. Payment was now expected in salfás or croise caoile – the sterling profile groats of Henry VII and Henry VIII, or the Anglo-Irish coinage of the 1480s and 1490s – or the “dominick grotes” – those early Harp issues which, like this coin, bore the title DOmInVS in the reverse legend. It is possible, then, that this countermark was applied as a mark denoting such good metal issues.