The English coin known as a groat was equivalent to four pennies and
was introduced during Edward I’s coinage reform of 1279 to 1280.
Prior to the groat, the only English coin in circulation was the
penny. The denomination lives on today only in the annual sets
distributed by the monarch on Maundy Thursday, which this year was
conducted on March 24.
London auction house Morton & Eden on March 17 conducted an
auction of the Motcomb Collection of English groats. A total of 242
lots realized £211,512 ($298,924 U.S.), including the 20 percent
The groat is a medieval denomination, and was influenced by other
European nations. In the century prior to the groat’s release, Italy
and France adopted larger silver coins, and England’s burgeoning
international trade necessitated higher value coinage to compete with
them and make transactions easier.
According to Richard G. Doty in The MacMillan Encyclopedic
Dictionary of Numismatics, “For a medieval coin it is quite large (28
millimeters in diameter) and relatively heavy (about 5.8 grams). It
reveals what a medieval coin designer could do with the larger space
in which to work than the penny afforded him.”
None of the changes (ornamental cross, various legends) were
radical, according to Doty, “but they look better and are more
pleasingly executed than earlier coins — and for that, the groat is to
One of the highlights of the collection is a groat from 1279, the
first year of the denomination. On the coin the king has a “broad face
with short hair,” according to the auction house, which graded the
coin Good Fine. It realized £5,040 ($7,123 U.S.) against a £4,000 to
For more details of the auction, visit the firm’s website.