The London coinage of Charles I is usually described as being from ‘the Tower mint
under the King’ or ‘the Tower mint under Parliament.’
Our member Chris Leather proposes that this is not strictly accurate, and that there
is a ‘Tower Mint transitional issue’ which deserves recognition, and a separate
listing. This will aid the understanding of the chronology of the transfer of power
at the Mint at the start of the English Civil War
The English Civil War has left a confused but interesting pattern of coinages, from
the Tower Mint, and from a number of Provincial mints. Spink lists the Tower coinages
in one section with a compound title: Tower under the King 1625-1642 and under Parliament
Within this listing, individual coin types are described and assigned either to King
or Parliament based on style and issue mark. With no dates on the coins, we can place
individual coins in sequence by means of issue marks, which are dated according to
when the relevant Trial of the Pyx was held. All the coins with issue marks up to
and including Triangle In Circle are given to the King, and all the subsequent coins
starting with issue mark (P) are given to Parliament.
This suggests a neat changeover, where change in management resulted in a change
of issue mark. This is not the case, however, and I believe that there should be
a revision of categories as follows:
1. Tower Mint under the King 1625 – 1641 all the coins with issue marks up to and
2. Transitional Issue 1641-1643 all the coins with issue mark Triangle in Circle.
3. Tower Mint under Parliament 1643-1649 all the subsequent coins starting with issue
The Trial for coins with issue mark Star was held on 15th July 1641 and the Trial
for coins with issue mark Triangle in Circle was held on 29th May 1643. All the Triangle
in Circle coins would have been produced within this period.
What is quite definite is that all the coins with issue mark Star were issued under
the King, and that all the coins with issue mark (P) were issued under Parliament.
We need to consider how the Triangle In Circle coins fit in between the two.
Coins with issue mark Star were Tried on 15th July 1641 ◄
Coins with issue mark Triangle-in-Circle were Tried on 29th May 1643
Coins with issue mark (P) were struck after 29th May 1643 ►
▲Tower Mint seized by Parliament on 10th August 1642
Tower Mint Under The King
Tower Mint Under Parliament
Coins struck with issue mark Triangle-in-Circle
Coins struck with issue mark (P)
Coins struck with issue mark Star
The King left London on
10th January 1642
From the end of the Star period on 15th July 1641 until the King left London on 10th
January 1642, at least, the Tower mint issued coins with issue mark Triangle-in-Circle
under Royal authority, and possibly this continued until Parliament seized control
of the mint on 10th August 1642. Coins from that date until the end of the Triangle-in-Circle
period on 29th May 1643 were definitely issued under Parliamentary authority, even
though retaining Royal types.
Given that this issue mark is the commonest for all Charles I coins, and huge quantities
of silver were being struck – an average of some £80,000 per month over the whole
period - it is most likely that production continued more or less without interruption.
We cannot really doubt that Triangle-in-Circle coins were issued under both authorities,
and should therefore be considered as a transitional issue.
Examining surviving examples show some struck reasonably well – perhaps these were
the earlier pieces – and some struck very crudely, when presumably quantity was more
important than quality – these may well have been the later pieces.
Perhaps further research into coin hoards may help clarify the sequence of issues,
but in the meantime I believe it is helpful to regard the Triangle in Circle pieces
as a separate and stand-alone category of Transitional coins due to the current impossibility
of determining just which authority issued any particular coin.