At the Archaeology and Metal detecting magazine, we feel honoured to receive images and stories of readers finds. Sometimes however, we are able to go a step further.
A work colleague of mine does not have the best mobile phone camera or ability to photograph by other means, so along with the story of the discovery of his friends find, I was exceptionally lucky to spend some time with his coin, to photograph and collate.
2 Weeks ago in rural Staffordshire, my colleague John Hughes and his friend Dan Higgins were detecting in the grounds of a, now derelict, Elizabethan manor house. During the morning they had settled on a spot in a field, some distance away from the site. General Field finds were discovered, Buttons, more modern coins and musket balls etc.
Just after lunchtime the decision was taken to survey the area around the building itself. Within minutes John received a brilliant signal with his XP Deus and dug the hole finding a fine Elizabethan Shilling. His buddy – Dan, also using an XP dues, asked to dial his machine in on the hammered coin.
Dan turned around and automatically, around 6 feet from Johns find, received, in his words, “one of the best signals he has ever had.”
Digging his hole, Dan saw, not 4 inches down, the shine of gold. Not letting his thoughts run away with him, Dan removed the clod of earth and crumbled it to find a beautiful William III half Guinea in good condition. So breathless was Dan, he forgot to do the gold dance!!!
Dan and John looked at the coin and immediately turned to Google to assist in the identification of the coin.
The half guinea gold coin of the Kingdom of England and later of Great Britain was first produced in 1669, some years after the Guinea entered circulation. It was officially eliminated in the Great Recoinage of 1816, although, like the guinea, it was used in quoting prices until decimalisation.
Following the death of Queen Mary from smallpox in 1694, William continued to reign as William III. The half guinea coin was produced in all years from 1695 to 1701, with the elephant and castle appearing on some coins from 1695, 1696, and 1698, the design probably being the work of James Roettier and John Croker.
The coins of William III’s reign weighed 4.2 grams with a diameter of 20 millimetres. William’s head faces right on his coins, with the legend GVLIELMVS III DEI GRATIA, while the reverse design of William and Mary’s reign was judged to be unsuccessful, so the design reverted to that used by Charles II and James II, but with a small shield with the lion of Nassau in the centre, with the legend MAG BR FRA ET HIB REX date. The coin had a diagonal milled edge.
Dan’s coin was in fact from 1695, so this being an early type from William III’s reign.
Dan and John wanted to have some good pictures of the coin for their personal use, before being able to visit the Staffordshire finds liaison officer at Stoke on Trent museum in the coming weeks. So John suggested he bring the coin to me for recording better quality images.
I was astounded as John passed me the small plastic box containing the coin. The thought of somebody in the 1600’s losing a coin worth so much always amazes me. And again that was the case.
I do not know the location of the site, but I can only thank John and Dan for being able to have access to the coin and for being able to recorded the information and make it available to the readers of the Archaeology and Metal detecting magazine. Many thanks indeed for your trust and story.