The Pattern Farthings of 1651
We now come to a perplexing point in the History of Oliver Cromwell. There exists a pattern for a Copper Farthing, which may be
Obverse, a badly executed bust of Oliver in profile to the left, laureate, and with drapery round the neck. Legend--OLIVER.
PRO. ENG. SCO. & IRE. A mullet or five-pointed star over the head. Reverse, a garnished and crowned shield with the arms
thus-- Quarterly, 1st and 4th, St. George's cross for England; 2nd, St. Andrew's cross for Scotland; 3rd, a harp for Ireland.
On an escutcheon of pretence, a lion rampant, the family arms of Cromwell. Legend--CONVENIENT CHANGE, with a
mullet at the end of each of these words. The date 1651 above the arms. The edge of the coin is quite plain. Copper, very rare,
the only specimen that we have seen is in the British Museum.
It is engraved in Thomas Snelling's View of the Copper Coin and Coinage of England, plate 6, no. 9; and in Folkes's and
Ruding's plates of the Silver Coins of England, plate xxxii., no. 10.
An author, one of the first who described this curious coin, remarks that "If there is no mistake in this date, we should suspect
the protectorship had been long concerted before it was effected." See Thomas Snelling's View of the Copper Coin and Coinage
of England, folio, London 1766, p. 33. The Rev. Rogers Ruding adopts the same view of the case, he says "It is remarkable that
those (farthings) with the date 1651 have the image and superscription of Cromwell, as protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland,
although he was not publicly invested with that title until the 16th of December 1653. If therefore there be no mistake in the
above date of 1651, his assumption of the protectorship must have been determined upon some time before it was actually
effected."--Annals of the Coinage, 3rd edit. i. 413.
Looking at this question in a numismatic point of view, we have not the slightest doubt that the date of 1651 is really either a
mistake, or a wrong date placed on the coin wilfully, but for what purpose cannot now be discovered. In the first place, the
design of this farthing is clearly the same as Simon's crown of the Protector, dated 1658, and it is not very likely that Simon
himself would copy the types of the whole of his celebrated coinage of 1656 and 1658 from an obscure pattern farthing by an unknown
artist. The drawing and execution of it are both very bad, and could never be attributed to such an artist as Simon, and therefore
Simon certainly did not reproduce his own design by copying this farthing, although one of the two coins is evidently copied
from the other. In the next place, it bears the arms of the Protectorate, exactly as they first appeared upon the Great Seal
made by Thomas Simon upon Oliver's Inauguration as Lord Protector, 16th December, 1653. The arms upon the Commonwealth's coins
current in 1651 are only the St. George's cross and the Irish harp.
The only plausible explanation of this date of 1651 is then, as we have said before, that it is a false date; the whole design
of the farthing being copied, with the exception of the inscriptions, from Simon's silver crown of 1658, though done by a very
inferior hand. The bust on the obverse looks the same way, has the same laurel wreath, and also the same drapery. As to the
reverse, the arms and shape of the shield and the form of the crown, are exactly similar. From this we conclude that the 1651
farthing was a private pattern, made probably in the year 1658. The proper place for it in our work would therefore be under
the latter year, but we considered that our readers might be able to find this piece more readily under the old date of 1651.