The David Greenhalgh Collection of Medieval Halfgroats

The David Greenhalgh Collection of Medieval Halfgroats

David Greenhalgh

The formation of my halfgroat collection started in the middle of 1976 when I was given a rather sorry specimen by the Bolton dealer Brian Dawson, in the course of buying a few Edwardian sterlings, my main coin collecting interest at that time. Fortunately, the halfgroat was clearly identifiable as an Edward III Pre-Treaty series B by the roman M on the reverse, but I was not to know for many years that his tatty specimen had a unique reverse reading ADIVTORE MEV and appears in my book as Series B, reverse 7. A week later I purchased from Corbitt’s, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, another Edward III halfgroat, this time a Post-Treaty thin bust specimen (obverse DIG no.7), which, reading FRAN, also transpired to be unique. At this time in my collecting life I had become acquainted with Mr J.W.J. Atkinson who became, and remains, a very close friend. Over the course of many conversations the subject of halfgroats as a collecting field was raised and I learnt that the halfgroat as a generic coin was at least ten times rarer than the groats and that there was nobody collecting them seriously. So I made up my mind to start to form the nucleus of a new collection.

In 1977 I moved to Bampton in Devon, to take up a position as a brewing supervisor at Whitbread Flowers brewery in Tiverton. Most of my funds went into the purchase of my house and so collecting took a bit of a back seat. But in September 1979 I was fortunate to buy, from Baldwin's, a magnificent specimen of a Treaty period halfgroat. It is the coin which appears on the front cover of my book and is probably the finest specimen of a medieval halfgroat in existence (lot 42). Over the next three years I added a few noteworthy coins: a Transitional Treaty piece from the Lockett cabinet acquired from Brian Dawson and a group of Edward III Pre-Treaty coins from the Pegg sale in 1980. At the end of 1981 I was made redundant from the brewery, but fortunately gained another job locally straight away. The redundancy package enabled me to purchase an exceptional group of Henry V halfgroats from Chris Martin that were once owned by Dimi Mangakis, and an ex Edward Winstanley Edward III Post-Treaty chain-mail halfgroat from Spink.

In 1985 came a change of job, a move to Kettering and the Delme-Radcliffe sale, from which I acquired a nice Henry IV light issue and numerous Henry VI and Edward IV halfgroats. The following year during a Saturday afternoon visit to Alistair Mackay in Rothwell, an idea was discussed regarding the identification of medieval coins and the following day I commenced work on the manuscript that was to be eventually published by Galata Print as The Galata Guide to Medieval Halfgroats.

The work, which was to take nearly 25 years, saw me motorcycling all over Great Britain, visiting the majority of museums with numismatic collections, as well as several in Ireland, to record and photograph their holdings of halfgroats. In addition, I corresponded with those I could not visit. An essential part of the recording process was also taken up with the pleasurable task of inspecting many private collections, including those of Christopher Blunt, Eric Harris, David Dupree, David Walker and many others. Research was hampered by the need for digital photography and image manipulation, which fortunately manifested itself in the form of digital cameras and high powered computer software at the start of the 21st century.

In 1988, after a lot of soul searching and reflection, I sold my entire holdings of Edwardian pence to purchase further halfgroats from Baldwin's, including a superb Henry IV heavy issue and a Henry IV/V mule. The collection was further swelled in 1990 by purchases from Spink's of choice specimens from the Dupree collection, while the dispersal of the Reigate (Brakes Road) Hoard in 1992 enabled me to fill many further gaps, as did the acquisition of pieces from the Eric Harris collection, sold to Baldwin's in tranches between 1994 and 1997. Very little was added from 1998 to 2004, during which time I moved to my present home in rural Lincolnshire, although one coin of note was a Henry IV heavy issue, a metal detector find from Lincolnshire acquired via Mike Vosper.

Ten years ago the emergence of eBay saw a whole new supply of material coming on to the market. Halfgroats were no exception and the majority of my recent purchases came from this source. Pressure of work had meant that the halfgroat study had been suspended until one day I was contacted by Ivan Buck, who was being asked to write a follow up to his Medieval English Groats, published in 2000. I was receptive to the idea of collaborating with him on the halfgroats, but unfortunately Ivan's death in 2005 resulted in my re-shouldering the 'burden' of bringing the almost finished manuscript into a form ready for publication. In 2009 I approached Paul Withers with the manuscript and he kindly took it on and published it in 2010, with the first copies being eagerly acquired at the BANS Congress in Cambridge. As a result of my divorce it has become necessary to sell the halfgroat collection and it will be offered by DNW in two parts this year. Whilst this marks the end of my collecting halfgroats, I have not given up numismatics and am actively collecting other hammered coins.

D.I.G.

As Grunal Moneta, David Greenhalgh's business is the production of authentic-style hammered coins, commemorative pieces and wedding tokens made to client's designs. He takes his travelling mint around Britain and abroad, adding colour to events and bringing to life the manufacture of coins and jewellery from different eras. Each lot in this auction is accompanied by a reproduction of an Edward IV halfgroat produced for the 25th anniversary of the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury, staged at the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, with the mint-signature CIVITAS TEWKES.