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Cromwell Halfcrown, 1658
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SunandAnchor - Over Dating

           Operation of the Tower mint was always expected to make a profit for the Treasury. Die cost and life as well as production output were key concerns. The use of the mill to make milled coins increased die life but at the expense of thru’put. The improved quality of the coins was also a consideration but there again silver coinage was subject to everyday useage, so any finely made coin on the mill was soon reduced to a worn out silver disc in need of re-cycling into new coinage. Another option was to save money on making the necessary dies. How might this be achieved ?

         The obverse die esentially remained the same between 1649 and 1657 with the mintmark sun. In any tight squeeze the mint could look in it’s store of old die and resurrect an old die for current production.  After 1657 this option temporarily came to an end with the introduction of the anchor mintmark on obverses. I have seen no obverses where the sun was altered to anchor.

          So the obverse die, was a die which could be used in multiple years interchangeably. What of the reverse? Well the unique design of Commonwealth coinage helped again to make the reverse die very flexible, as well. After 1649, the rev dies were essentially very similar except for the last digit in the date. So a fresh or partially worn die could be used again by just changing one digit in the date. In fact a batch of reverse dies could be made with the last digit of the date missing and then pressed into service as needed. Here are a couple of interesting examples.

           Two 1654 shillings. The early example has a huge digit 4 in the date. This is typical of what we see in this year on several denominations which suggests that there was a very real difficulty making correct sized 4’s.

           The second example is a late production where the digit 4 is barely visible and appears to be too small, being much smaller than the neighbouring 5. The very real faintness of strike suggests that the four was added at a later date.   

A late 1654 shilling                                                                An early 1654 shilling

           Over dating was a very common activity. Some are easier to detect than others. If the original digit is small the task was easier, take this 1657 shilling where again the 7 this time is weakly struck. A year later what looks to be an upside down digit 8 is added to obliterate the underlying 7.  

A 1657 shilling                                                                      A 1658/7 shilling

           Perhaps the best known examples of over dating are the obvious silver crown over dates of 1656.

           These are both made from rusty dies, dies originally made for 1654 crown production but used in 1656. On the right the first correction of adding a 6 over the four can be clearly seen. On the left we have an example of the same 6 over four, but in an attempt to cover both those numbers a very large six is used.  Neither of these dies have been seen in use for 1654 crowns and instead were pressed into use when metal from treasure ships was available in 1656.

A 1656/6/4 crown                                                                                     A 1656/4 crown