Monday 7th November.

·        Fakes and Forgeries – Ancient and Modern By Stephen Alexander.

Monday 5th December.

Monday 9th January.

Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.




·         The Xmas dinner is booked for 18.45 on Sat 10 December 2016 at The Cunning Man.  The cost will be £25 per person. Please let us know if you want to come by phone, e-mail or at the very latest, at the November meeting. 

·         Please continue thinking about Short Talks for January, and Auction lots for March!

October Meeting

Chris Comber came to Reading Coin Club on Monday October 3rd 2016 and gave a talk illustrated with slides and coins from his own collection titledThe Irish Harp coinage of Henry VIII the Definitive Version”. Chris gave an over view of Henry VIII’s services to the crown and his need to pay the troops stationed in Ireland. Following his break with Rome to marry Anne Boleyn in pursuit of a male heir, Henry's establishment of the Church of England coincided with a new coinage for Ireland. A commission of 1536 authorised the introduction of 'coins of the harp' (groats and half-groats).  The obverses were standard being a crowned shield of arms over a cross.  The changing of mintmarks determined the different coinages, but it was the reverse designs that were of particular interest and significance.


The first reverse depicted a large harp dividing the ciphers H and A for Henry and Anne Boleyn. It is certain that the groats were minted in a frantic two to three month period during which Anne was beheaded and replaced by the more demure Jane Seymour within weeks. This coincided with the change of initial from A to I for Jane. These coins were struck between August 1536 and June 1537. By the time Jane had died following the birth of Edward, Ireland had no immediate need for large sums of money to pay the troops, thus no coins were struck for Anne of Cleaves.


Whilst the coins showed no obvious signs of debasement, like their English counterparts they were becoming lighter and contained less silver even more so in the Irish series. Between mid-1537 and mid-1540 groats were struck with H for Henry and R for Rex on either side of the harp.  On 19 July 1540 the import of Irish 'harps' into England was officially prohibited. So, by implication it was acknowledged that these coins were so debased that we did not want to add them to our own debased monies.


From August 1540 to February 1542 a fourth reverse appeared bearing the initials H and K the K for Katherine Howard. It is assume that they were struck and stockpiled while Katherine was still Henry's mistress, and ready for issue upon their marriage.  Katherine was never crowned Queen, and by November 1541 she had fallen out of favour. These are the scarcest of the initialled groats.

For the rest of the reign the initials HR were employed so poor Catherine Parr (Henry's last wife whose Christian name began with C) did not warrant an Irish coinage.


On 18 June 1541 the Irish parliament offered Henry the title of King of Ireland but it was not until April 1542 that the revere legend reflected this by reading HIBERNIE REX. Previously the legend read DOMINUS HIBERNIE (i.e. Lord of Ireland).  All the issues bearing the new title were heavily debased and of poor quality. There was little visible change until 22 April 1545, which was Henry's 37th regnal year, and at some stage the reverse legend included the figure 37/S at the end of the legend. Effectively these were the first dated coins made in England. They are quite scarce in any visible condition.


At the same time, around August 1546, minting switched from the Tower to Bristol.

A unscrupulous William Sharington ran the Bristol mint, and he happily contracted to produce 'sixpenny groats' of .250 fineness. The coins commenced with the mintmark WS (William Sharington's initials), and end with the figure 38 (equating to 1546). The WS sixpenny groats omitting the regnal year are not an engraver's error but coins denoting the death of Henry VIII in January 1547.


Researching material for this paper, Chris said, was frustrating, challenging but most interesting and he had ended on an unanswered problem. A very few better quality groats of Henry's first issue from 1536 were countermarked with four pellets. When or why this was done is a mystery.

The original four-penny groats were upgraded to pass as a sixpence from 1540, and were later reduced in value back to a four-penny piece before finally succumbing to the melting pot.

Chris said that he was sure that the four pellets signified that later reduction in value. The problem is that there is no documentary evidence for this countermarking, which could have taken place at any time from 1552 to mid-1620. It can only be assumed that the process was successful and that most of the coins met their fate in the melting pot.



Be reminded that subscriptions are now due. It would be most appreciated if members yet to renew their subscription would please do so at the next meeting. Please see our treasurer Peter Hall. For anyone who does not pay their subs, this issue of the newsletter will be the last they receive.


Future Events.

Past Events

Ten years ago in 2006, Tony Holmes talked on “Having Fun with Junk Boxes”.

Twenty, Thirty and Forty years ago was the Club Auction.

Club Secretary.