King John’s Pellets: Die-cutter Signatures? – Robert Page

Observations of the reverses of 48 King John pennies of the moneyer Roberd at Dublin has revealed the presence of pellets on many of the coins. This brief article illustrates the different varieties observed and speculates on their meaning.  Reader comments and suggestions are encouraged, as are comments on additional pellet configurations, including those from other moneyers or denominations.

5 thoughts on “King John’s Pellets: Die-cutter Signatures? – Robert Page

  1. Hi Rob, just read your interesting BNS article on the John Irish coins. It was common practice, as I’m sure you know, to have ‘pellet’ marks in the centre of shortcross and voided longcross penny reverses where the die puncher had put the point of his measurement/marking device in order to lay out the design. On the obverse, I have always assumed that this was initially there but later covered up by the later design feature punches (nose on shortcross). I can believe that the mark in sector 4 is the main design layout on the Irish reverse (pelleted outer circle; position for crosses at points of triangle and points themselves). Is it possible that the other locations are markers for determining the position of other key design elements? Where they are not visible is this because they are underneath/covered by design features punched into the die after the laying out had been completed? Multiple marking points may have been necessary on these coins due to the non-circular layout of the design? Obviously this may be wholly incorrect but I thought that I’d raise it. Have you looked at the locations of the points (or where you’d expect them to be) relative to the design elements? Some could be trials or mistakes too? Note: just quick initial thoughts/ideas. Apologies if this is all old news and been considered and discounted long ago 😊 Cheers John

  2. Thanks for your interesting feedback John. My examination of c. 50 coins has led me to believe that these are not simply guidepoints but I could be wrong, and cannot completely rule out your suggestion, particularly as the pellet in sector 4 does usually correlate well with the centre of the triangle. Sector 2, sector 3, and pellets above the upper star are not so easy to relate to the design. I’m keeping an open mind on this, and ideally I would like to examine many more coins, and am hoping readers will send me images of coins in their collections – both with and without pellets. (Images may be sent to

  3. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the interesting note. I will send you a Roberd penny I acquired within the last days showing pellets in both Gap 4 and Gap 5.


    Richard Shipley

  4. December 2022 update: I have recently learned that these “privy marks” were first described and published over 50 years ago in 1968 by Dolley and Seaby in the SCBI volume for the Anglo-Irish coins in the Ulster Museum.

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