​The Long Cross Pennies of Henry III 

Research Article #2 - The Subdivision of  Class 3d Coins

The Class 3 series offers a great opportunity to collect a wide number of varieties which we hope to cover in some depth.  It has been argued that changes were often more by chance and whim than deliberately directed; this may be so but there are clear stages  through which the Long Cross coinage of Henry III developed.  Recently Churchill and Thomas made some recognition of this by introducing the subdivision of "class 3c late" into:

  • 3d1 - With wedge tailed R and a bust with a pointed face that was largely issued after the closure of the provincial mints – see The Brussels Hoard of 1908 book, p.38-39), and
  • 3d2 - With ball-footed R and a bust of improved quality and closely related to that of class 4 coins.

It is our contention that it is an oversimplification to consider that all varieties from the end of 3d1 to the introduction of class 4 could be contained within the 3d2 definition.  We would like to put forward, for debate, the evidence for a new sub-class which, in deference to the work that has been carried out, we will in future refer to as 3d3.

The main difference to dies of 3d2 is the inclusion of mm 5, the mint mark carried through to the issue of Class 4.  It is a difference, therefore, that cannot be dismissed as a temporary whim of a die cutter.This group can be further sub-divided into two groups, those bearing a colon in the legend after REX and those where there is a simple single pellet stop. 

Whether sub-class 3d3 was a late issue, so late that the dies did not reach Canterbury or Bury or whether they were produced as a parallel issue to some 3d2 dies is debatable.  Churchill & Thomas recorded 5 coins with mm 5 that were amongst 16 coins displaying a 3d2 obverse paired with a 3d1 reverse, in the Brussels Hoard, suggesting that the issue was early enough to be paired with remaining reverses with the wedge-tailed R1.  

The dies were produced in such number with a variety of portraiture that they represent a clear experimentation in the development and improvement of the coinage.  The dies, of which there are at least 14 recorded in  the Brussels Hoard, were issued in the names of Davi, Henri, and Nicole, the only three moneyers issuing from the London mint at the time.  This is the same  as the number of known dies for Class 4.  There were 60 coins recorded with mm5, (excluding those paired with 3d1 reverses), compared with 43 for class 4.  The probability is that a greater number of class 4 coins than 3d3 coins have been withdrawn from the Brussels Hoard over time, and  the original numbers in the hoard may well have been very similar. Taking a ratio of coins recorded by Churchill and Thomas with 3d2 busts and mm 4 against 3d3 busts and mm5 we have 313 : 58, slightly more than one 3d3 for every six of 3d2 (15.6% of the total issue recorded), not an insignificant number.

To see examples of 3d3 coins please visit the 3d3 London page,  and to comment or discuss the proposed new sub-class please visit the henry3.com blog.