A QUEEN ANNE SHILLING 1702-1714
In our regular guide to the latest prices being paid online, we sketch the historical background to this interesting coin, issued during a difficult time for the Queen, but a triumphant period for the nation
Anne’s tenuous entitlement to England’s throne hung on her relationship through marriage to her brotherin-law William III (William of Orange) who died aged 51 after a fall from his horse while riding at Hampton Court in 1702. The English Parliament elected her as their monarch for no other reason than that she was a staunch Protestant and thus far preferable to a return to a Roman Catholic wearing England’s crown. Alas she was destined to spend her entire reign suffering a series of miscarriages and body-racking ailments including gout, smallpox and eye inflammations. Increasing obesity and lameness confined her to a wheelchair and a specially constructed horse-drawn cart she used to move around the grounds of Kensington Palace.
Ironically the years of her reign brought numerous glories for England. The Duke of Marlborough, ancestor of Winston Churchill, won major battles during the War of the Spanish Succession; the English Navy captured huge amounts of Spanish treasure; Gibraltar became an English possession; an English inventor (Newcomen) built a steam engine that would eventually power the Industrial Revolution; the East India Company evolved as the most important European power on the Indian sub-continent; Newfoundland became an English possession; and much of the West Indies joined the list of regions of the world where England ruled.
Perhaps the most momentous event of her reign was the creation, by the 1707 Act of Union, of a united England and Scotland that later developed into our United Kingdom and our British identity.
Queen Anne furniture, which may have been influenced by the Queen’s liking for exceptionally comfortable low seating with ample cushions, provided 18th-century English furniture-makers with eager customers in North American colonies, where the style influenced Colonial craftsmen for years after her death. Elegant cabinets with sparse ornamentation also sold well in Europe.
England’s coinage altered markedly during Anne’s reign, with collectors dividing her issues into ‘before Union’ and ‘after
The silver from which the coinage was struck formed part of the bullion cargo seized from Spanish treasure ships
Anne died leaving no child to inherit her throne. She was the last of the Stuart monarchs
Union’ designs. Before the Union, the Royal Arms on the reverse of all denominations save the farthing, displayed the armorial bearings in shields arranged in a cross formation. Clockwise from the top, they showed England’s, Scotland’s, France’s and Ireland’s coats of arms. After the Union the arms of England and Scotland are shown impaled (side-by-side) within a single heraldic shield, which appears twice (top and bottom) in the arrangement, with Ireland and France occupying the left and right positions.
On some coins of 1702 and 1703, including the shilling, the word ‘VIGO’ shows beneath the Queen’s image on the obverse. This signifies that the silver from which the coinage was struck formed part of the bullion cargo seized following capture of Spanish treasure ships in Vigo Bay off the Spanish coast. Some shillings (and other denominations) display plumes in the angles between shields to signify silver mined in Wales. Other coins (including shillings) show roses in the angles to indicate silver mined in the West of England. All coins carry the obverse legend ‘ANNA DEI GRATIA’, while the reverse has ‘MAG BR FRA ET HIB REG’. For two or three years following the Union some coins, including shillings, carried the letter E beneath the royal portrait to indicate that they had been struck at Edinburgh’s mint. The practice ceased following the Scottish mint’s closure.
Despite seventeen pregnancies, Anne died leaving no child to inherit her throne. She was, in fact, the last of the Stuart monarchs. Under the rules of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which excluded all Catholics from holding the Crown, her second cousin George, of the house of Hanover, became Great Britain’s George the First in 1714.
Anne’s shillings provide a small but interest group of 18thcentury silver in which you can find a wide variety of prices, all governed by rarity and by coin condition. We have included several examples with this feature as aids to buying. The dealers credited for the illustrations often have Queen Anne shillings in their stocks.