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HM29022

Elizabeth I silver Shilling mm. martlet Zeeland countermark

Elizabeth I (1558-1603), silver Shilling, countermarked in obverse field with the Arms of Zeeland, Netherlands, second issue (1560-61), crowned bust left, type 3C, Latin legend with linear and beaded circles surrounding both sides, initial mark martlet both sides, ELIZABETH: D;G' AN; FR' ET. HI; REGINA, rev. long cross fourchée over quartered shield of arms, POSVI DEV; AD IVTORE M: MEV:, weight 5.97g (host coin N.1985; S.2555). Host coin with one small rim split and mount mark at top, otherwise toned, about fine, the countermark very fine and clear with just a hint of weakness down right margin, extremely rare on an English coin.

The eighty year Anglo-Spanish war (c.1566-1648) included the Siege of Leiden in 1573-74 when obsidional countermarked coins were stamped with the Arms of Zeeland in order to use mainly silver coins of Philip II of Spain, to pay the soldiers to fight for their liberation against Spain. The countermark temporarily raised the nominal value of the coins by one eighth. The rebel army within consisted of English, Scottish and Huguenot French troops so it is understandable some foreign silver was countermarked along with the bulk of the Philip II pieces, and this Elizabethan English shilling represents an extremely rare occurrence of a British coin countermarked and used in such a way. The Spanish laid siege to Leiden unsuccessfully, the City was well stocked with supplies and provisions with defences being too great to break, resisting for months on end, being eventually relieved after successive sieges as of October 1574. A fleet of flat-bottomed boats under Admiral Louis Boisot for the Prince of Orange literally sailed in after the breaking of protective dykes facing the sea in August, which flooded the surrounding lands, enabling them after an amphibious fight to drive the Spanish away.

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