Yorkshire Museum

Numismatics

Please note: The Yorkshire Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of items and artefacts. Whilst we make every effort to display a broad spectrum of our collections it is not always possible for all our collections to be on display at once. Please check the latest exhibitions to find out what collections are currently on display or contact us on 01904 687687.

Walkington hoard – the oldest coins in Yorkshire

The Trust has 18 Iron Age pale gold staters which are a portion of a substantial hoard found by metal-detectorists. The coins date to around 50AD and were made by the Corieltavi tribe who lived in what is now Lincolnshire and the East Midlands. They were probably struck in the East Midlands but their control may have extended to southern Yorkshire

Heslington hoard – 2,800 roman coins found in a jar

This incredible hoard was found in 1966 when building the University Campus. It dates to around 350AD and many of the coins show Constantine the Great, who was proclaimed emperor in the city. The hoard has coins showing a wolf and twins (Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the symbol of Rome) and with the inscription Felix Temp Reparatio (a return to happy times) which was struck when the coinage was restored to a good standard after years of neglect. It reflects the vast number of Roman coins found in Yorkshire.

Rare and valuable Roman gold coin

The gold Solidus of Honorius was struck for Honorius, Roman emperor in the late fourth and early-fifth century. He was the last Roman emperor of Britain and wrote the famous Rescript of Honorius, asking Britons to fend for themselves.

This rare and highly valuable coin would have been used for important transactions – not everyday purchases – and may have been used to pay mercenaries, tribute or distributed early within a reign to sure up support. Its use possibly stretches beyond the fall of Roman Britain, as such coins were used by Anglo-Saxons who valued the gold and craftsmanship – often turning them into pendants.

Probably the first instance of ‘small change’ in medieval England

This Styca, or penny, dates from the ninth century when copper coins began to replace the more valuable silver ones. This type of coin is unique to the kingdom of Northumbria, quite distinct from the south, and probably the first instance of ‘small change’ in medieval England.

The Yorkshire Museum has the largest and most significant holding of these coins, acquired through several large hoards including this one which was found at St. Leonard’s Place. It was made up of 4,000 coins found underneath the modern-day York Art Gallery.

Vale of York Viking Hoard

This spectacular hoard was found by metal detectorists in 2007 and is the most important Viking discovery in the UK for 150 years. The hoard contains a mixture of different precious metal objects including 617 coins, several new or rare types. These provide valuable new information about the history of England in the early tenth century, as well as Yorkshire’s wider cultural contacts in the period. Interestingly, the hoard contains coins relating to Islam and to the pre-Christian religion of the Vikings, as well as to Christianity.

Ryther hoard – medieval coins minted in York

This hoard of 817 coins is from the very beginnings of the Tudor period, only a couple of years after the end of the War of the Roses, c.1487. Many of the coins were struck in York which was an important mint, producing a large volume of silver in the medieval period. It was under the authority of the archbishop. The coins reflect the back and forth nature of the war with coins from both reigns of Henry VI and Edward IV. There is also a coin struck in York from the reign of Edward III.

One of the largest and most significant Civil War Hoards

The Breckenbrough Hoard is one of the largest and most significant civil war hoards.  It consisted of 30 gold coins and 1552 silver coins deposited during the spring of 1644 by Royalist forces, who were seeking provisions in the area. It was found with receipts for cheese (also in the collection)! When the Royalists  lost control of the area in the middle of 1644, the coins and receipts (to be redeemed) were buried. It is likely the burier met a nasty fate and never returned to claim his bounty.

Enormous Oxford Pound of Charles I

After leaving London, Charles I (1600-1649) started his own mint elsewhere. It was here that he struck a very large silver pound, a much bigger denomination in silver than was usually struck There was also a change of imagery too – not the usual king’s bust but an image of the king on horseback. This was to differentiate his coins from those struck in his name by his parliamentarian enemies.

Yorkshire Token

Produced by George Rasine of Doncaster in 1665, the year that he was mayor of the town, such tokens were issued when small change was scarce. This halfpenny one was issued in the 17th Century and shows the apothecary arms in the centre.

The tokens were issued by local businesses, usually with the name of the owner on one side their occupation/location on the other side. York Museums Trust has very significant and nationally important holdings from across Britain with several hundred from Yorkshire.

Victoria Cross

This Victoria Cross was issued to Wilfred Edwards for actions in 1917, when he was aged 24. He served in the 7th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was awarded the cross for conspicuous bravery when under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from a strong concrete fort. According to the London Gazette, having lost all his company officers, without hesitation he dashed forward at great personal risk, bombed through the loopholes, surmounted the fort, and waved to his company to advance. By his splendid example he saved a most critical situation at a time when the whole battalion was held up and a leader urgently needed. Three officers and thirty other ranks were taken prisoner by him in the fort.

Shilling of Elizabeth II

Struck in 1953, the year of Elizabeth’s coronation, the shilling depicts a young monarch. It is part of an extremely good collection of modern money, much of which appears to have been uncirculated.

Star Trek dollar

This bizarre collectable piece of Liberian currency was struck to mark the opening of Star Trek Generations. It has a fairly normal obverse showing the crest of Liberia, with Captain Kirk on the other side. The coin is part of quite a sizable holding of modern collectible coins, including a full set of 12 dinosaur coins issued with Eritrean obverses.