Junk box gems: a Maundy twopence coin of William IV


06 September 2018
In our latest look at a coin you may well find in a 'junk box' at a coin or antiques fair, we take a look at a Maundy twopence coin

This is sterling silver. It reads GULIELMUS IIII DG BRITANNIAR REX FD around a bare (uncrowned) head. On the reverse a crowned ‘2’ in a wreath, date 1837.

‘GULIELMUS’ is the Latin version of William, so you will realise that it is British, William IV, 1830-1837.

It is a Maundy twopence; each year on Maundy Thursday, the Sovereign by ancient custom gives purses of coins to needy old men and women, the amount being related to the Sovereign’s age, so the earliest dates of each reign tend to be the scarcest.

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However, until Edward VII personally put a stop to it in 1909, other people could order these coins through banks, so early issues are a good deal larger than was needed for the ceremony.

There were regular issues of the 3d in this reign (intended for the West Indies) and there was a 4d, but this has Britannia on the reverse; those of the Maundy sets can be distinguished as they have the crowned 4.

There are 1, 2, 3 and 4 pence coins in the Maundy sets, all in silver; the 3d in circulated condition looks the same as the regular circulation 3d (in uncirculated condition it can be distinguished by its better finish).

The normal issue pennies, halfpennies and farthings are in copper; you will easily recognise these in a junk box. There are even half and third farthing coins, they’re quite scarce for this reign, so if you see them in a junk box then you’re lucky!