Commonwealth, Halfcrown, 1660This coin was found in the Blackfriars Bridge Hoard that was unearthed on the foreshore of the River Thames in the mid 1990’s. The coin was first offered for sale with a further 1,581 coins from the find at auction by Baldwin’s on 13th-14th October 1997.

The earliest coin recorded in the hoard was from the reign of Edward VI but the majority of the coins were halfcrowns and shillings of Charles I and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth issues were the most significant part of the find as very little material from this period is found in hoards. A recoinage was announced in 1661 with a successful withdrawal of Commonwealth coin, approximately £750,000 of coinage was stuck during the Commonwealth with £650,000 recovered within a few years, this left little more than a decade for coins to be deposited. The rarity of the coin on offer is reflected in the quantities of coins found in the hoard, 174 commonwealth halfcrowns were found, the more common dates of 1653 and 1656 made up 68% of the group, a huge proportion compared to the Richard Cromwell issues of 1658-1660 that collectively accounted for 6% of the halfcrowns.

This 1660 halfcrown is one of the most interesting coins in the find as it is the most recent in the hoard which would suggest that the hoard was lost in 1660, if it was any later and the coins would have either been exported or returned during the recoinage. The location of the find also supports the idea that the coins were lost in a hasty exit from London during the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The coins were found on the Thames foreshore but this point was originally open water before the completion of the Thames Embankment in 1870 that narrowed the river. Anyone with close ties to the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the Protectorate would have feared the return of the monarchy and the Royalist exiles who were seeking revenge.