Collectors of United States coins are aware of a special issue of
U.S. coinage in the 1870s that was meant for use thousands of miles
from the home country.
England has America beat by 172 years in resorting to that concept.
Though the American Trade dollar (minted for use in trade with Asia)
entered circulation in 1873, the idea of issuing a special silver coin
for English trade dates as least as far back as Queen Elizabeth I. In
1600 and 1601, four denominations of coinage — the 1-, 2-, 4- and
8-testern pieces — were coined at the Tower Mint for the first voyage
of the incorporated “Company of Merchants of London Trading into the
An example of one of the coins was sold Dec. 16 by St. James’s
Auctions in London.
The Portcullis money is named for the portcullis composing the
reverse design. A portcullis is a gate with a heavy, sliding grate,
used in fortifications. The obverse shows the royal arms.
Portcullis coins were struck to the same weights of equivalent
Spanish 1-, 2-, 4- and 8-real coins.
A 1600 to 1601 2-testern piece identified by the auction house as
About Very Fine realized a hammer price of £940 (about $1,475 in U.S.
funds) in the Dec. 16 auction. The buyer’s fee varies from 20 to 24
percent, depending on the method of payment.
Portcullis coins are usually found well-worn, despite the fact that
coins of this design were used only briefly.
For more information about other lots in the auction, visit its website.
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