A World of Money: The Oxford Triple Unite to be offered in Chicago
In Heritage’s upcoming CICF World and Ancient Coins auction, to take place in Chicago April 26-30, there is an an example of the rare and popular Oxford Trple Unite. Dated 1643, this Choice VF specimen possesses a lot more eye-appeal than many of these pieces enjoy, so while not in the top level of quality it remains a most desirable example of this classic from the English Civil War.
The flan is full and virtually round with nearly complete outer rim beading; the legends clear and easily readable without flaws. Central strike quality is fairly even with considerable sharpness, the fields perhaps gently smoothed ages ago but showing only tiny abrasions. A planchet flaw can be seen in the field just to right of the single plume behind the king’s head.
This piece was struck at the king’s temporary mint at Oxford, which served as Charles’ headquarters and principal source of money from 1642 to 1646. Oxford and the other regional mints, quickly assembled as the king moved from one fortified locale to another, served the purpose of converting gold in other forms (older coins, jewelry, plate) into coins asserting his kingship, and paid out to his armies as well as to suppliers. While technically not all of these are siege coins, most pieces struck at the various temporary mints met exactly the same fate — melted in order to make newer coins after the war.
J.J. North made a memorable comment about the biggest of the gold emergency issues, the Triple Unites, in describing the famous “declaration” which appears on this and other Oxford coins: “This famous instance of the use of coins for propaganda in wartime has the king’s declaration, made at Wellington in 1642, inscribed across the field in an abbreviated form — REL(IGIO) PROT(ESTANTIUM), LEG(ES) ANG(LIAE), LIB(ERTAS) PARL(IAMENTI). ['The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament.] No doubt his enemies also claimed the last two objectives as their reasons for the Civil War.”
Within six years of when this impressive coin was minted, Charles was captured and executed. At his demise, the ancient divine right of kings effectively ended in across the land, and upon the Restoration in 1660 England became parliamentarian in both name and power. Never again in Great Britain would a king be so kingly as Charles Stuart.
From The Marston Collection of British Coins.