A farthing is the fourth part of a penny. The Anglo-Saxon penny is known to have been as early as 688, and was perhaps
earlier: it was of silver. The cross is said to have been deeply impressed upon it, that it might be divided into the
halfling, or halfpenny, and the fourth-ling, or fourth of a penny, now called farthing. There is a passage in Whitaker's
Richmond, which shows that coins were halved and quartered, [Fosbroke's Ency. of Antiquities.] as the dollar is at this
time in remote settlements of the United States in America.
In 1444, 23 Henry VI., a petition was presented to the House of Commons stating, that for default of a half-pence and
farthing, men "travailling over Contrees for part of their expences of necessities, must depart our Soveraigne Lorde's
coigne, that is to wete, a Peny in two peces, or elles forgo all the same Peny for the paiement of an Half-Peny." [Antiq.
Henry I. first ordered half-pence and farthings to be made round. Before that time they had been made square. [Andrew's Hist. G.
Britain.] [Bergantino: There is no indication that the coins had been made square in the past. Rather this
statement is likely meant to imply that Henry I was ordering a recoinage to make the coins round again as those in circulation
had suffered the pain of being clipped to the point where they no longer could be considered "round". To make round would
also imply that an actual coin valued at a half-pence or a farthing would be struck rather than those that were obtained by
cutting a penny into halves or quarters.]
James I. granted by patent, to Frances, duchess of Richmond, the monopoly of coining farthings for seventeen years. [Rymer.]
Queen Anne's Farthings.
It prevails, as a vulgar error, that a Queen Anne's Farthing is of immense value. Her farthing is scarce, but not valuable,
unless in fine preservation. The only farthing issued in her reign bears her head, inscribed ANNA DEI GRATIA,
and on the reverse BRITANNIA 1714. In the finest condition it is not worth more than twenty shillings, or,
with the broad rim, thirty shillings. There were patterns for farthings of her reign, which were not issued, one with
Britannia under a portal, and another with Peace in a car, are rare, and valued at forty shillings. The rarest pattern is
inscribed on the reverse BELLO ET PACE 1713. The field in the centre is sunk, the rims indented, to prevent
casting in sand, and it has all the improvements so much boasted of as being the invention of Boulton in his last coinage
of copper. [Fosbroke.]