O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Ireland Silver Threepences of Queen Victoria


Introduction:

Queen Victoria’s predecessor, William IV, issued a short run of silver threepences (minted in London) for use in the British West Indies, where the British Administration was trying to increase its influence by introducing a strong currency based on ‘good silver’ in British denominations.

Silver threepences continued to be minted for the West Indies when Victoria was crowned but it was not until 1845, that the silver threepence was struck for general circulation in Great Britain and Ireland.

It proved to be a very popular denomination and stayed in circulation right up to WW2 – when silver coinage production stopped completely in the UK. Conversely, production of the silver three-halfpence and the groat (silver fourpence) did not last as long as Victoria.

Silver Threepence: Victoria

  • Alloy: Sterling Silver (92.5% silver)
  • Weight: 1.41g
  • Diameter: 16mm
  • Edge: Plain
GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria - Type I, II and III obverse. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Queen Victoria – Type I, II and III obverse

Type I Obverse: (Young Head)

  • Uncrowned portrait (Young Head) of Queen Victoria, facing left.
  • Legend: VICTORIA D:G: BRITANNIAR: REGINA F:D:
    • Full Latin Text: VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITTANNIARUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
    • Translation: Victoria by the Grace of God Queen of Britain Defender of the Faith

Type II Obverse: (Jubilee Head)

  • Robed jubilee bust of the mature Queen Victoria (Jubilee Head), facing left, adorned with jewellery, veil, and a small crown.
  • Legend: VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITT: REGINA F:D:
    • Full Latin Text: VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITTANNIARUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
    • Translation: Victoria by the Grace of God Queen of Britain Defender of the Faith
  • Designer / Engraver: Joseph Boehm / Leonard Wyon

Type III Obverse: (Old, Widow or Veiled Head)

  • Older veiled bust (Old, Veiled, Widow Head) of Victoria facing left, adorned in jewellery.
  • Legend: VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
    • VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITTANNIARUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX INDIAE IMPERATRIX
    • Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the Britains Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India
  • Designer / Engraver: Thomas Brock / George De Saulles
    • Initials below bust (TB)

Reverse:

  • Royal crown above the number ‘3’, with the date divided to either side.
  • A wreath with a bow at the base surrounds the main design
    • The reverse design survived 3 changes to the obverse in what would turn out to be the longest ever reign by a British monarch, until the present Queen Elizabeth II passed her mark of 64 years in 2017. Charles, like Victoria’s son Edward, is destined to be a very old king when he succeeds his mother.

Mintage & Market Values:

Type I Obverse: (Young Head)

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Young Head) 1838-1849. Market Values & Mintage - The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Young Head) 1838-1849. Market Values & Mintage

Varieties:

The 1838 ‘BRITANNIAB’ is an extremely rare variety and seldom comes up for auction. We have no image, nor any market price. If two wealthy collectors, determined to add it to their collection, bid at the same auction, the price may exceed €1,000.

1845 GB & Ireland silver threepence - large 18 over small 18 variety. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

1845 GB & Ireland silver threepence – ‘large 18’ over ‘small 18’ variety.

1845 GB & Ireland silver threepence - 1st 'N' of BRITANNIAR triple overstruck variety

1845 GB & Ireland silver threepence – 1st ‘N’ of BRITANNIAR triple overstruck variety.

Notes:

The two key dates to look out for are 1847 and 1848. Bother are extremely rare. Few of the 4,488 minted (for Maundy sets) seem to have survived.

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Young Head) 1850-1859. Market Values & Mintage - The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Young Head) 1850-1859. Market Values & Mintage.

Varieties:

1852 GB & Ireland silver threepence '5 over 5' date variety. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

1852 GB & Ireland threepence ‘5 over 5’ date variety

1858 GB & Ireland silver threepence - BRITANNIAB BEGINA variety. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

1858 GB & Ireland threepence – BRITANNIAB BEGINA variety

Notes:

In 1852, only 4,488 silver threepences were minted (for Maundy sets) and, since so few seem to have survived, this date is extremely rare and collectors are advised to keep an eye for one. Market value is difficult to determine since so few turn up at auction. Be prepared for a bidding battle if you spot one.

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Young Head) 1860-1869. Market Values & Mintage - The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Young Head) 1860-1869. Market Values & Mintage.

Notes:

Although less threepences were minted in 1867, more seem to have survived than the larger mintage of 1863, thus the 1863 threepence commands a significant premium over coins from other years in the 1860s.

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Young Head) 1870-1887

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Young Head) 1870-1887. Market Values & Mintage.

Notes:

The 1882 threepence is the key date in the above table and commands a premium over the usual prices for the other years. The 1887 ‘young head’ is also worth considerably more than a ‘jubilee head’ of the same year.

Type II Obverse: (Jubilee Head)

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Jubilee Head) 1887-1893. Market Values & Mintage - The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Jubilee Head) 1887-1893. Market Values & Mintage.

Notes:

Like in 1887, there are two formats for the 1893 threepence. The ‘jubilee head’ is the scarcer of the two and commands a very significant premium, especially in the higher grades. Since these coins are commonly found at car boot sales and charity shops, collectors are advised to keep a sharp look out for the scarcer of the two designs.

Type III Obverse: (Old, Widow or Veiled Head)

GB & Ireland silver threepence - Victoria (Widow, Veiled Head) 1893-1901. Market Values & Mintage - The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin.

GB & Ireland silver threepence – Victoria (Veiled Head) 1893-1901. Market Values & Mintage.

Notes:

The ‘veiled (or widow) head’ design is the most common Victorian threepence and building up a complete set is much easier (and less expensive) than earlier busts.

 

Further Reading:

 

 

 

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