Information

Sterling imitations in a nutshell

From the end of the 12th century, the English penny, known for it's good silver, became a standard in north-west Europe. Merchants in the Low Countries (especially Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut) went to England to buy the high quality wool and paid with English pennies.
To get them they exchanged silver bars and/or light weighted coins in English coin work shops. To avoid exchange rates and increase profits, they soon started minting their own copies. In the same alloy and weight but also in baser material to earn more money. As the majority of the medieval population could not read, it was no problem if the legends were not correct or with the name of the local count and mint. If it looks correct, it must be correct!
For more information, see the literature section or try to get a copy of one of the reference works mentioned below.


Reference works

Short Cross Sterlings
  • J. Chautard - Imitations des monnaies au type esterlin frappées en Europe pendante le XIIIe et le XIVe siècle. Nancy, 1871
  • H. Krusy - Die Münzen der Grafen von Schwalenberg und ihrer Seitenlinien Pyrmont, Sternberg und Waldeck (letztere bis etwa 1228, der endgültigen Entstehung der Grafschaft Waldeck). Köln, 1986
  • J.P. Mass - The J.P. Mass Collection of English Short Cross Coins 1180-1247. SCBI 56. London, 2001
  • Lord stewartby - German imitations of English short-cross sterlings. The Numismatic Chronicle 155 (1995), 209-260, 7 pls.
Voided Long Cross Sterlings
  • J. Chautard - Imitations des monnaies au type esterlin frappées en Europe pendante le XIIIe et le XIVe siècle. Nancy, 1871
  • R. Churchill and B. Thomas - The Brussels Hoard of 1908. The Long Cross Coinage of Henry III. London, 2012
  • J. J. North - Some imitations and forgeries of the English and Irish Long Cross pence of Henry III. British Numismatic Journal 65 (1995), 83-119, 4 pls.
  • J. J. North - Some imitations and forgeries of the English and Irish Long Cross pence of Henry III: Corrected catalogue. British Numismatic Journal 66 (1996), 117-22
Edwardian Sterlings
  • J. Chautard - Imitations des monnaies au type esterlin frappées en Europe pendante le XIIIe et le XIVe siècle. Nancy, 1871
  • N.J. Mayhew - Sterling imitations of Edwardian type. Londen, 1983

For more information, see the literature section for downloadable articles and books.


Crockards & Pollards

The Edwardian sterlings can be devided into 3 types: the crowned type, the uncrowned type and the ones with a bust wearing a chaplet of roses.

In the late 13th century you see that foreign merchants take the English money overseas rather than spend it on English goods. The silver went to the continental mints and into the production of sterling imitations of inferior weight and fineness for use in the whool trade.
These crockards and pollards soon began to find their way to England in large quantities. Around 1300 Edward started to devaluate and finally forbid these imitations. Crockards and pollards are not seen after 1300 and you see that the crowned imitations, which look almost identical to the English penny, take their place.

The difference between crockards and pollards:

Crockard

The type where a crown is replaced by a chaplet of roses is the so called "denarius rosades". A less flattering name was "crocardus" or "cocodonis" (translated from French as fashion doll or dandy).

Pollard

This variaty with a bare-headed bust facing, is called a "pollard". In English it means a cow without horns.


Rarity

It's difficult to say wether a coin is rare or not. Based on the listings in Mayhew's book, several metal detecting forums, find recording websites and sales at auction houses I give it a try. I graded contemporary forgeries as R3 or R4 because most of them are almost unique unless I know there are is more than one known.

  • C = Common
  • S = Scarce
  • R1 = Rare
  • R2 = Very rare
  • R3 = Extremely rare
  • R4 = Of the greatest rarity
  • R5 = Unique or likely unique (1 or 2 pieces known)