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Cromwell Halfcrown, 1658
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CromwellCoins - Rarity and Variety, Explanation of Rarity Price Link

370 years is a very long time. In normal circumstances coins made in 1649 would have since spread to the four corners of the earth.

The Commonwealth Period was like no other time in English History. It was a period of 11 years sandwiched between the rule of Charles I who was eventually defeated in Civil War, tried and executed for his crimes, and Charles II at the Restoration of 1660. While this war was waging across the country the population was forced to take sides - Royalist or Republican. We had two of almost everything including armed forces. Two Parliaments one sitting in Oxford and one in London. After 1642 we had money being minted in London for the Parliamentarians and  Royalist mints both in Oxford and Provincial locations, like York, Chester, Bristol and Exeter to name a few which remained active till Pontefract surrendered in 1649. In those days money was power, was metallic silver or preferably gold. Forces from both sides toured the countryside looking for plunder to support their cause. Charles endeavoured to move metal and supplies to his headquarters in Oxford, while the Parliamentarian forces attempted to block shipments. Notably a shipment of gold and silver from Cambridge was intercepted on it’s way to Oxford and re-directed to London. Soldiers on both sides had to be paid so this activity never stopped. Provincial fortifications like York had to have money to pay defending soldiers. Loyalty had to be bought with money, food and shelter. Local residents supported the cause by donating gold and silver plate which could be converted into coinage.     

From 1643 to 1649 while the Civil War was raging, Parliament had control of Tower mint. and continued to produce Charles I coinage. Some support was bleeding out of the mint to support coins being made outside of London. So again another two, this time work forces. Records of the mint which had previously been made every year became much more erratic so following production is very difficult. After Charles I was executed in January 1649 Parliament set about normalising business as best they could. Staff at the mint had to be vetted to root out Royalist sympathisers. Late in the year authorisation was given to strike newly designed Commonwealth coinage. Goldsmiths were reluctant to supply metal while metal supplies at the mint had essentially run very low. It is assumed that one source of metal was any late Charles I coinage which was to hand. Again records are essentially none existent. However there was a priority to make the new money and have it in circulation as soon as possible. London was the commercial centre and within the city the circulation of new coinage was very fast. In the provinces that was not the case. One has an image of random Brownian motion for the distribution of new monies to people outside Londoners still bore some sympathy to the now dead Royalist cause. One can imagine Royalist followers destroying any of the new money which came to hand, preferring instead to trade with Charles I coinage. 

Brownian Motion

16th May 1649 to 25th December 1651
26th December 1651 to 30th November 1653
1st December 1653 to 30th November 1657
1st December 1657 to 30th September 1659
1st October 1659 to 31st May 1660

Meanwhile record keeping at the mint did not improve. One has an image of a partially performing entity with a shortage of some key people who had to be replaced with new persons who would have needed time to adjust to the work. First accounts didn’t happen till Xmas Day 1651. It was to be the first of just five accounting periods over 11 years of the Commonwealth. Only the second and last periods were profitable to the tune of 361 but this was more than offset with losses for the other periods. One should not forget that the mint was a hive of activity in their endeavours to upgrade techniques in the making of coins and the constant struggle to find ways to defeat the counterfeiter.

All of the foregoing makes it exceedingly difficult to know how many coins were made during each individual year of operation. The gathering in of Commonwealth coinage from 1660 to 1662 is a complicating factor. Samuel Pepys in his diaries states that around 75% of the coinage was surrendered, melted down and recoined into hammered issues of Charles II. Then we have further losses with the Period of the Great Recoinage in the 1690’s which essentially eliminated hammered coinage from circulation. Attrition and losses at other times while what was left passed thru collectors hands and sought sanctuary in museums again makes this task of estimating what has survived, what would be a remarkable trip over 370 years, very difficult.

Since CromwellCoins.com was established several years ago using data which was to hand, the survival rates have been a source of distraction. Where to start was the main issue. It was decided to survey the main museums in the UK, USA and Australia. Their help in this endeavour was simply the best and was much appreciated. Added to this were the results of auctions over recent years and finds in hoards. To top it off any knowledge of pieces in collections. This provided a data source of around 1800 coins. The question then to be answered - was this a large enough sample to work on the entire period. Three plots are shown here which provide a greater insight on this issue.

Plot 1 - Distribution of Coins1

Known Coins in Existence

This plot shows both gold and silver coinage by denomination and year. One point we do know is how much silver and gold was minted during the Commonwealth period. The amount of silver coinage was 10 times that of gold coinage. So a first checkpoint was this ratio. It was found to be exceedingly close to the proportion plotted above. The year 1653 is universally accepted as the most populous year and here again we see that is true. Yet another check point is the most popular denominations and as others have found shillings and halfcrowns take those places.

So far so good. Next a check on die varieties. One would expect high volume to track greater numbers of die in use.

Plot 2 - Varieties 

Known Varieties

This plot ideally should confirm the dominance of the years 1653 and 1656 which it does. More revealing are the results for gold denominations. There we see 1649 as being a very busy time for die makers which slowed down in the years 1650 and 1651. It’s almost as if the Unite was their test vehicle for die variance. This makes sense because some obverse dies used in 1649 are seen in use in the following four years.

Plot 3 - The combination of Plot 1 and 2

Combining the previous two plots provides an overview previously unseen. Both 1653 and 1656 were huge years for silver coinage in the Commonwealth Period.

As more data becomes available these plots will be updated.

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Fast Access to Relative Pricing

           We live in a fast changing world of information. The printed word is now obsolete unless a hard copy of information is required as a later reference. That paper information is usually out of date before it is printed. So in view of this a new solution has been sought to link rarity with price - the Rarity / Price Link.

           There is no absolute price in this world. Auctions are never predictable and there are commission costs to be paid. What rarely changes is rarity of an old object. Using a data base of over 1800 surviving coins from the Commonwealth period it is possible to estimate rarity. A price can then be attached to any rarity. This has been done for Commonwealth coinage. What you have is a table showing dates and varieties each with it’s own relative rarity number which typically varies from 1 to 100,000 to embrace what is typically seen in the market today. For the most common date / variety it is then possible to use today’s typical market value to generate prices for Fine, Very Fine and Extremely Fine. With this data point the other values fall into place on a relative basis. This is then repeated for other denominations and could be expanded to other periods in time.

Advantages of the new Rarity / Price Link -

*       It's a dynamic information source, not a yearly printed paper catalogue or a reference printed every 5 years or so, this can change with updates.

*       The Rarity Price Link is linked to rarity based on known surviving coins, whereas the paper format has no known methodology, and does not seem to be linked to other publications.

*       You have a source of detailed photographs for every variety, so one can verify an exact coin.

*       Rarity is defined as a number from 1 to 100,000. Those numbers for the first time may be added together to define a group rarity, or even a denomination rarity, so flexibility can be extended past individual coins.

*       Paper publications are paper based, expensive and heavy to carry around, this is electronic and in the palm of your hand for easy / instant reference.

*       Coin images may be enlarged to see the finest detail, whereas with paper sources there is neither colour or magnification.

*       Going forward this approach can be expanded to other periods in history, to extend rarity comparisons and for this reason it is Copyrighted..

            Sceptical? Give it a try with something you know. Remember these are relative prices. So if on your first try you think that’s too high or low, look up another coin and see how it compares. People have different prices in their mind as time goes by and do not forget that auction commission! Maybe the prices are relatively low or high but that should be the case for everything, so if you are looking to compare two coins go ahead the price difference reflects rarity difference so it should give you a good comparison and be more to your liking.

            Typical screens now look like this -






Silver Crowns





One ounce silver ( approx 30 gms ), approx 42 mm in diameter, value V










Description / Photograph Links










Obverse (1) with inverted N in England





Standard, with different obverse (2) and reverse










New reverse and obverse (3) design










Large 652 over small 652 in the date, small circular beading on reverse





Large 2 in the date, very coarse beading on reverse





Small 2, narrow date, coarse beading





Medium 2, wide date, coarse beading on reverse





Medium 2, narrow date, coarse beading










Shallow scallops to reverse shields, various dies





Deep scallops to reverse shields, various dies





Upside down A over V in VS on reverse, deep scallops










New reverse and obverse (4) design, fine cross hatch










6 over 3 in date, old 1651 style obverse (3), see CR-55





6 over 4 in date, 9 strings to the harp, 54 obverse (4)





6 over 4 in date, 10 strings to the harp, 54 obverse (4)





6 over 4 in date, 9 strings to harp, new obverse (5)





6 over 4 in date, 10 strings to the harp, new obverse (5)





Large 6 over small 6 over 4, 9 strings to harp, new obverse (5)





Large 6 no overdate, 9 strings to harp, new obverse (5)










Cromwell Crown, 1658/7 in date





Cromwell Crown, Dutch Copy





Cromwell Crown, Tanner Copy










Anchor fantasy piece dated 1660 but based on a 1652 crown








Old Version

Old SunandAnchor
Rarity - Price View4
Rarity - Price View5

            The previous version of SunandAnchor.com listed coin varieties with the right hand column dedicated to an analogue star rating for rarity. This only gave a feeling on rarity. Now with Rarity / Price Link those stars have been changed to a calculated number. So for example a 1653 crown has a relative rarity of 260. This is the number you will need for the next step. A yellow vertical line on the right hand side of the screen will pull up the Price Rarity Calculator which may be displayed simultaneously in a new window. There you see all the principle denominations including Silver Crown. The arrow points to a box where you can enter the rarity number, in this case 260. There you can read off relative pricing for the different grades. 

Want to make that a price for 1653 silver crowns? Well for that you need a new rarity number based on all known varieties. For this you need to add together 260+260+25 = 545. Now insert your new rarity number, 545 into the calculator to find the new pricing.

Look for this link on listing pages to connect or alternatively the yellow vertical stripe on the right hand side of pages.

Fast Access to Relative Pricing

How It Works

Other Silver Crowns1

Examples of Relative Rarity of silver crowns from other periods.

Using Rarity / Price Link

From the SunandAnchor Tables note the Denomination and Rarity Number - for example in table above denomination is Silver Crowns and Rarity Number is 110 for Elizabeth 1, mm 1 crown.

Select Rarity / Price Link

Move down the Tables to Silver Crown, V, type in the rarity Number in this case replace 245 with 110

Silver Crown 245

With the value 110 under rarity, the values should change and display new values for Fine, Very Fine and Extremely Fine.

Silver Crown 110

    The prices you see can be as specific or general as you wish. Specific year varieties are rarer than general year values for any denomination. Up to now you will have probably only experienced year values so if that’s what you need then you must add up all the rarity numbers for all the varieties of a given year. This makes a very significant difference in price. For example -

1656 Crown                                 General                                       Specific Variety

Rarity Number                                245                                                       40
VF Price                                        3,827                                                 7,203

These are the rarity numbers for Commonwealth Hammered Denominations where all the varieties / years have been totaled. These Rarity Numbers give you an idea of relative rarity of denominations in general. It was impossible to make this calculation using analogue rarity tables.

Total Rarity Numbers

As a rough Rule of Thumb, the following table shows Rarity Number  ranges corresponding to ESC classifications, a sort of analogue to digital conversion table. Notice Rarity Numbers cover a much wider range. Above 321, ESC is unable to function as there are no classifications unless one uses the unspecified C ratings.

Analogue to Digital Conversion

I hope that has given you some feel for the flexibility and power of  Rarity Number’s. It’s as simple as that. Enjoy. Also please remember where you first saw this concept.

Open Price / Rarity Tables