Edward I of England Groat
A Groat (4 pence) of Edward I (1272-1307)
Edward I, “Longshanks”, the “hammer of the Scots”, is one of the most famous (infamous) British kings. He has been characterized as heroic and pious, ambitious and just, a tyrant and cruel. It’s can be challenging to assess the true nature of him in the context of his times.
Edward I introduced the four pence groat in 1279. His father Henry III had experimented with a gold coin, but this is thought to have been produced on a very small scale and is extremely rare with only 7 or 8 known. Other than this, no denomination other than the penny (and cut/round halfpenny) had been produced since early Saxon times.
Edward’s groat was a little more successful than the gold coin, but not by much. The groats were produced between 1278 and 1281, then the denomination abandoned. Most were withdrawn from circulation. Edward III would try again with a four pence groat and this time would be accepted and would be produced for hundreds of years.
Because of the contemporary lack of interest in Edward I’s groat, most were melted down. However, due to the large size and the large cross on the reverse, some were saved for use in jewelry, and it’s not uncommon to find them with gilded reverses. Generally, the obverse and Edward’s face was not gilded.
Most surviving examples, like this one, have some damage. Scratches, bumps, and evidence of mounting or gilding is the norm. High grade unimpaired examples are exceptionally uncommon, and very valuable.
I think around 100 are known to exist, most in low grade or otherwise impaired, and many in institutional collections.
The recent reference is Martin Allen’s article in BNJ 74 (2004) where he builds off the old Fox and later North classification system.
This coin is class F (I think) based on North’s classification scheme.