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1656 Cromwell Pattern Broad Survives Over 350 Years

During the August ANA Auction No. 3085, Heritage Auctions will be offering up a 1656 Cromwell Pattern Broad. It is a rare piece considering its historical context.

The English Civil War ended in 1649 on the execution of King Charles I, marking the beginning of the Commonwealth of England presided over by Oliver Cromwell, its Lord Protector. A staunch Puritan, Cromwell soon set about transforming the face of the land by his ideals, including canceling Christmas celebrations.

Cromwell is remembered for hating what he considered to be ‘decadence’ as well as the monarchy. He even refused the crown when it was offered to him. This Puritan and anti-monarchist feeling is generally visible in the coins of the Commonwealth period, which bore no likeness of a King or Queen, had English legends instead of Latin and were generally quite plain compared to earlier issues.

Heritage Auctions will be offering a 1656 Cromwell Pattern Broad at the August ANA auction. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions, www.ha.com)

These rare patterns were struck in gold as trial pieces for a possible design only in 1656. The “Broad” denomination was a precursor to the later-adopted Guinea. As a previous catalog description for a similar coin explained,

“Cromwell’s portrait is prominently centered on the obverse and depicted with a laureate wreath, the Classical symbol of emperorship; circling his likeness are his Latin titles, whilst the reverse bears his personal motto PAX QVÆRITVR BELLO, “peace is sought by war.” Above all else is the bizarre choice of putting a crown atop the reverse shield, the most iconic symbol of monarchy imaginable, one Cromwell himself refused.

Every facet of this coin seems overtly anti-Cromwellian, making it all the more fascinating from a numismatic and historical perspective; and whatever the reason for Cromwell’s acceptance of it, it is a piece clearly designed to impress… A coin one can sit and marvel at for hours, over its symbolism, its history, and its splendor.”

Similar coins have recently sold for around $50,000, so this pattern from just after the British civil war should attract plenty of attention when it comes up for bid.

For more information about the 1656 Cromwell Pattern Broad and the August ANA World Coins Auction, visit www.ha.com. 

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