Peace Is Sought Through War
The entry page to CromwellCoins.com. A website with colour pictures of both Cromwell and Commonwealth Coinage issued between 1649 and 1660.

Oliver Cromwell


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July 2015

Anchor_Mintmark, 1658 to 1660
Sun_Mintmark, 1649 thru 1657
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There are several ways to making copies of rare coins, but perhaps the most faithful reproduction is achieved when a  coin is copied using electrotype methods. This technique became prominent and was all the rage around 1850 at the time of the Great Exhibition which was held at Crystal Palace in 1851. Industrialists like Elkingtons in Birmingham, primarily used this technique to make metal replicas of very rare art objects. This company was often commissioned by the British Museum to make copies. Outside of museums, Victorianís were very keen to display their wealth in their home with exotic objects, and what better way to do it than to have some very rare objects, essentially priceless, on display. The rarer the better because it implied untold wealth. The copies were so well done that very few people, including the British Museum on occasion, could not recognise the real object from the replica. Any minute detail down to the hall mark on the object was faithfully reproduced on the copy.


The actual process involved is described in Wikipedia. Its ability to record fine object detail made it an obvious candidate for the copying of coins which happened around 1880. Museums wanting to display very rare coins resorted to having electrotype copies made. Known rarities like the Charles II Petition Crown were copied down to the last detail which in this case included the fine writing around the edge of the coin.


It is therefore not a surprise to see some Cromwell Coin rarities  being copied too. The list of copies would include the Cromwell  Halfcrown, the very rare Cromwell sixpence and several farthings.


So how can one recognise an electrotype coin? There are two giveaways which should allow a collector to recognise an electrotype. As the finished article is made in two halves it is sometimes possible to see the seam around the edge of the coin. The other characteristic one should check for is the weight of the coin. Electrotypes are made to be seen and not weighed. Sometimes the weight is close but often it is too heavy for the coin in hand.

Electrotype coins are not very common. For this  reason they have value as they are usually made from very rare coins which would be very expensive to buy today. Think Victorian! Most date back to the 1880ís so they have some age when compared to the modern  mass produced poor quality replicas of today seen in tourist areas or on Ebay. How valuable could one be? Well that really relates to how expensive the real item is. If an electrotype is the only affordable piece on offer then one may well be tempted to buy the electrotype copy. Remember its not a coin but a piece of art which you are purchasing!

Here is the real thing -


Just to complete the picture, here is a Dutch cast copy of a Cromwell Sixpence for comparison displaying the typical loss of detail seen on cast pieces -