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


Introduction:

William IV re-introduced the groat as a coin for circulation in British Guiana but, towards the end of his short reign, it was proposed for general circulation in the UK by MP Joseph Hume – hence its nickname “the Joey”

  • His reasoning was that the coin was convenient for paying cab fares.
  • The coin was first introduced in 1836, but (paradoxically) proved unpopular with cab drivers as they now simply received a fourpence as payment, whereas previously they would often receive a sixpence without the demand for change.

The original groat derives its name from the Dutch grootpennig (or, “big penny”). It was also known as fourpenny bit, or four pence.

Silver Groat: Queen Victoria

  • Alloy: Sterling Silver (92.5% silver)
  • Weight: 1.9g
  • Diameter: 16mm
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Designers (1837-1862)
    • Obverse: William Wyon (WW)
    • Reverse: William Wyon (WW)
  • Designers (1888 only)
    • Obverse: Joseph Boehm / Leonard Wyon
    • Reverse: William Wyon (WW)
1845 GB & Ireland Silver Groat. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1845 GB & Ireland Silver Groat

Obverse:

  • Young head of Victoria, facing left, with ribbons in her hair, legend surrounding
    • 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

Reverse:

  • Britannia seated facing right, wearing a helmet, holding a trident, hand resting on a shield, with the words.
    • To the left is ‘FOUR’, to the right ‘PENCE’
    • Date (in exergue) below.

Mintage & Market Values:

1837-1839 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1837-1839 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values)

Varieties:

1838 GB & Ireland Silver Groat - 8 over sideways 8. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1838 GB & Ireland Silver Groat – 8 over sideways 8.

1840-1849 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1840-1849 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values)

Varieties:

1848 GB & Ireland Silver Groat - 8 over 6 variety (close up). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1848 GB & Ireland Silver Groat – 8 over 6 variety

1848 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Victoria) - 8 over 7 variety. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1848 GB & Ireland Silver Groat – 8 over 7 variety.

1851-1862 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1851-1862 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values)

Varieties:

1854 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Victoria) - 5 over 3 variety. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1854 GB & Ireland Silver Groat – 5 over 3 variety.

Notes:

It always pays to look closely at Victorian groats for there are many interesting varieties and errors. The major varieties are listed above but illustrated below is an extremely valuable ‘mule’ – the reverse is a groat (4d) but the obverse has been struck by a threepenny (3d) die.

1854 GB & Ireland Silver Groat Mule - 3d obverse + 4d reverse. It sold for £3,400 in December 2017 at DNW Auctions in London. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1854 GB & Ireland Silver Groat Mule – 3d obverse + 4d reverse. It sold for £3,400 in December 2017 at DNW Auctions in London.

1854 GB & Ireland Silver Groat Mule - 3d obverse + 4d obverse comparison. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

  • The most obvious difference is the thickness of the rim
  • The lettering is slightly different too, although this may not be as obvious without a normal obverse for comparison.

 

Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Groat:

The groat ceased to be minted for circulation in Great Britain & Ireland in 1856, but in 1888 a special request was made for a colonial variety to be minted for use in British Guiana and the British West Indies. The British West Indies at that time included: Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica (formerly Colony of Jamaica), and Trinidad and Tobago.

1888 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1888 GB & Ireland Silver Groat (Mintage & Market Values)

Notes:

The 1888 Jubilee Head groat (and all other circulating Victorian goats) should not be confused with Maundy groats – which have a different reverse design, i.e. Maundy groats have a large numeral “4” on the reverse whereas the circulating groats have a stylised Britannia surrounded by the lettering “FOUR PENCE” on the reverse.

 

Further Reading:

 

 

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