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GM24331

John Penny, short cross type, class 5b, Carlisle Mint, moneyer Tomas

John (1199-1216), silver short cross Penny, class 5b2 (1205-1207), in the name of his Father, Carlisle Mint, moneyer Thomas, facing crowned head with linear collar, hand holding sceptre at left, Latin legend and beaded borders surrounding both sides, commences upper left with round top Rs, hENRICVS. R EX, rev. short voided cross pommée, small cross pommée in each angle, +TOMAS. ON. CAR, large pellet stops, weight 1.46g (Mass 1465; N 970; S 1351). Toned, one small rim bruise, very fine and rare.

All of the English coins dating to the reign of King John by class, are depicted in the name of his Father King Henry II as are those of Richard I who preceded him. The legend therefore reads "Henry King" on the obverse and "Thomas of Carlisle" on the reverse.

The younger brother of Richard the Lionheart and at time estranged, John was pronounced heir to England on 11th March 1194, he being the youngest son of Henry II born on 24th December 1166 and at first nicknamed Lackland on the assumption he would never inherit much land. In contrast to this name and as Henry II's favourite son, John had been appointed Lord of Ireland in 1177 by the age of ten and given lands in England and on the Continent and later proclaimed King on Richard's death in 1199. John married twice but had multiple mistresses and illegitimate children. First he married Isabella Countess of Gloucester from 1189-99 ending in annulment, then Isabella Countess of Angouleme who was no older than 15 upon their marriage in 1200 who bore home five children from 1207-1215.

John called a conference of moneyers in 1205 which reformed the administration of the coinage and class 5 short cross pennies are thought to coincide with the results from this meeting, though the coins continue to be still in the name of his Father Henry.

Otherwise during this reign, King Philip II of France agreed to recognise John's possession of Angevin lands at the peace Treaty of Le Goulet in 1200. War again broke out with France in 1202 and though John achieved early victories but later due to shortages of supplies and because of his treatment of his Nobles in that area the empire in northern France collapsed by 1204. He tried to regain these lands for the next decade, was excommunicated after an argument by Pope Innocent III in 1209 not resolved until 1213, and eventually suffered defeat by Philip at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. Upon return to England he faced rebellion from multiple nobles and barons leading to the Magna Carta peace treaty of 1215, from which neither side really complied leaving to more civil unrest and a stalemate. John died of dysentery in 1216 after campaigning in the east of England and famously losing much of his baggage train and treasure in the flooding marshes and quick sands of the Wash in East Anglia, he died within a week or two of this happening by the 19th October 1216 with his body carried south for interment at Worcester Cathedral. In the aftermath his nine year old son was proclaimed King Henry III under the protector-ship of William Marshall who resuscitated the terms of the Magna Carta in edited form from 1217 as the basis for government in the future.

Some sixty miles west of Newcastle, the City of Carlisle on the River Eden was devastated by the Danes in 875 and in ruins until 1092 when William II fortified it by building a castle. The silver and lead mines on nearby Alston Moor were used to supply the mint with metal during the twelfth century and a Bishopric was established in 1133. David of Scotland seized the town on the accession of Stephen but later in the Peace of Durham, was confirmed to his son Henry. In 1139 the town was ceded with his Earldom of Northumbria to the Scottish crown and not restored to the English till 1157. Minting activity occurs from Henry I to Henry III with issues of David of Scotland and Henry of Northumbria.

The relatively recently published book "The Metal in Britain's Coins" by Dr Graham Birch and published by Spink has a chapter devoted to the sources of medieval silver coinage, and one of the few issues traceable to silver mined locally in England, is the penny coinage of the Carlisle Mint from the later Norman reigns of Henry I and Stephen to that of Henry II and Richard I. Henry I visited Carlisle in 1122 and was impressed by the minting potential first establishing a mint there having commissioned extra defences, and a rental from the Burgesses of £5 a year is recorded to the King from 1125 onward. This fee had jumped to £45 per annum by 1130 and then to £500 by 1133 clearly showing the success from a discovery of a new vein of silver near Cross Fell in the Silver Beck-Minersdale region. The powerful Erembald family from Flanders soon arrived to become involved in the minting activity, and three generations over a fifty-year period dominated the moneying of coinage in this region continuing through the Anarchy period in the reign of King Stephen. Stability returned with the advent of the reign of Henry II and in 1158 Henry reorganised the royalty payments system taking away the miners rights to silver giving them only a revenue stream from the lead by products. Henry offered them the chance to mint as well as mine giving the opportunity for integrated business, that was first taken up by William Fitzerembald. Henry also authorised a new mint to open at Newcastle and William operated at both locations on a combined rental of £100 a year. An auction process of the rights to mint and mine occurred on an annual basis, and though Fitzerembald was usually the winning bidder against all comers at ever higher levels, he sometimes failed to meet the rental targets, accruing an eventual debt of some £2,100. The activity certainly boosted the economy of this northern area and Dr Birch estimates that the mines accounted for about 1% of the national gross domestic product of England at this time. William Fitzerembald did lose the rental for 1180-81, and again in 1184-85 when it was run by custodians with more proper accounting passing to Alanus Monetarius who either alone or with partners ran the mint and mines till 1198 at lower rent levels than his predecessor and met his targets. He perhaps also operated at Durham.

The coin herewith under later moneyer Thomas represents a last swansong issue for this mint which closed after the recoinage of 1207 as the silver mine output had fallen to unsustainable levels. For further detailed reading it is advised to consult Dr Birch's learned publication.

Provenance:

Ex C. J. Martin coins, May 1995.

Ex John Mattinson Collection of Carlisle Mint, part I, Dix Noonan and Webb, Auction 164, 9th October 2019, lot 2254.

Ex Collection of an English Doctor part III, Sovereign Rarities fixed price list online August 2022.

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