Scotland 1567 ryal Dav-8462

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Heritage sale 3029, lot 30248
photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
This specimen was lot 30248 in Heritage sale 3029 (New York, January 2014), where it sold for $3,818.75. The catalog description[1] noted,
"1567 Mary Ryal, 5th Period, 2nd Widowhood, XF45 NGC. A really fine example struck on a full flan of remarkable shape, without cracks or damage and with legends that are clearly readable (especially her royal titles). Portions of the central images are evenly worn but the piece is covered with a fine old greenish gray patina. In short, an untouched and pleasingly original example.

This "crown" was struck at the very end of Mary Stewart's tragic life as Queen of Scotland, but not at the end of her life, and its wear indicates that it (and others of its kind) continued to circulate as money for years in Scotland even while she was unable to rule. Great-granddaughter of the English king Henry VII, Mary was next in line after Henry VIII's children to become Queen of England, but Catholic opponents broke the agreement for her to marry the future Edward VI, removed her to Stirling Castle, and turned to England's oldest enemy, France, for alliance. This widened the rift between England and Scotland. Henry responded by sending raids into Scotland, killing and burning properties. In 1548 Mary was sent to France, raised as a Catholic, and educated at court in preparation for her marriage to the Dauphin Francis. She changed the spelling of her lineal name from Stewart to Stuart, after the French fashion, and married in 1558. In 1590 Francis and Mary became king and queen of France, but the ailing Francis died the following year. Mary returned to Protestant Scotland in the summer of 1561. Briefly, her rule with the advice of her brother, James Stewart the Earl of Moray, was peaceful and she practiced her faith privately. Other advisors convinced her to join in marriage with Henry Darnley (a great-grandson of Henry VII); their only child was the future James I of England. Darnley was manipulated by Mary's enemies, and murdered her secretary, David Riccio. In 1567, Darnley was killed by a bomb; within months of his death, Mary married the Earl of Bothwell, possibly the major figure in Darnley's murder. Mary's Protestant lords threatened her, and their armies met outside of Edinburgh in June of 1567. Defeated, she was imprisoned again, this time at Lochleven Castle, and forced to abdicate to her infant son. Bothwell fled to Scandinavia, where he died in prison. Mary escaped from the castle early in 1568 and secreted to England, hoping that her cousin, Elizabeth I, would send an army with her back to Scotland, but instead she was imprisoned for the last 19 years of her life. Her secret correspondence with the Catholic conspirator, Anthony Babington, was uncovered and Elizabeth charged her with treason. Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed at Fotheringhay Castle on February 8, 1587, aged 44, twenty years after this, her last regal coin, was minted. It remains as a tribute to a tragic monarchy."

Davenport lists this type for 1567 only and the specimen shown in his catalog displays the countermark of 1571.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: silver.

Catalog reference: S-5429, Dav-8462.


  • Davenport, John S., European Crowns, 1484-1600, Frankfurt: Numismatischer Verlag, 1977.
  • Skingley, Philip, ed., Standard Catalogue of British Coins: Coins of Scotland, Ireland and the Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Man & Lundy), Pre-Decimal Issues, 2nd edition, London: Spink & Son, 2003.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Stuart Levine and Bruce Lorich, Heritage World and Ancient Coins Auction 3029, featuring Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part III, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2013.

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