The History of Maundy Money
Inspired by the acts of Jesus in the Bible, Royal Families, since the thirteenth century, have washed the feet of the poor to show humility and compassion on the Thursday before Good Friday. This tradition was changed by Henry IV to the act of giving gifts. He also decreed that the number of gifts would equal the monarchs age, hereby inaugurating the Royal Maundy on Maundy Thursday. By the time of Charles II he changed the tradition again by giving the poor money, special hammered undated coins to commemorate the occasion in 1662. The coins were 4d (four pence or groat) down to 1d (one penny). By 1670 the King started to give out a dated set of all four coins, plus the washing of feet and the giving of clothing and food.
By the eighteenth century the foot washing had died out, but the Royals still gave coins, food and clothes. In the nineteenth century the ceremony was simplified to just the coins and this continues to the present day with Elizabeth II now giving to the elderly of note. The number of recipients equals that of the monarch's age.
The coins are always silver, but the makeup of these coins has varied across the ages, especially during periods of debasement. Following the coinage act in 1971 the use of sterling silver resumed and the face value was raised by the introduction of new pence with decimalisation.
George II 3d (three pence) 1739
Lovely portrait, slight ripple and knock to edge, otherwise VF+
George III Silver 1d (one penny) 1795
Early coinage. Older bust. Ex Spink with ticket.
Excellent grade, EF