SCOTLAND. Mary Stuart. 1542-1567. AR ryal. 28.93 gm. 44 mm. Rare irregular striking with Henry's name before Mary's (see references noted below) (446.5 grains, near appropriate weight for the ryal issue). 1566. Crowned shield, thistle each side; HENRIC & MARIA DEI GRA R & R SCOTORV around / A tortoise climbing a palm tree; DAT GLORIA VIRES on a scroll (A genuine die used). S. 5425 type. SCBI 58, Edinburgh: 1189 (same dies). Good Very Fine; beautiful old collection toning; well struck on a full round flan. Three known. We handled another in 2015 (Auction 35, realized $7500). The third piece, ex Lockett, is in The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. All are from the same dies, the reverse being a somewhat worn genuine die that was used to strike regular issues.
The young Henry Darnley had journeyed to Scotland to press his claim to the English throne, Mary was in line in front of him and when they married he pressed to be proclaimed king, co-equal with Mary. Coinage would express this. When Mary and Francis were married Francis's name appeared first on the coin (as did Philip's name when he and Mary Tudor married), but both Francis and Philip were kings in their own right. The callow Henry was not, but he did keep trying and he had friends who helped. The exact plan behind this piece is uncertain, but the reverse die is a genuine mint die and the weight is correct.
Holmes, N. (Scottish Coins in the National Musems of Scotland, Edinburgh, Part I. SCBI 58: 1189, 429) suggests "more likely an irregular striking." Rampling & Murray, BNJ 59 (1989), p. 213. "The Coinage of the Marians in Edinburgh Castle in 1572—an Addendum" discusses the issue and notes the Lockett example. We have published a more detailed discussion on our website here. (AD)
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