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When Charles II was restored to the throne, he needed to assert his royal authority and to show a clear break from the rule of Oliver Cromwell.

It has been suggested that the tradition of monarchs facing in the opposite direction to their predecessor on coins, which dates from this time, is one expression of this break. It can’t be said for certain that Charles II wanted to be seen turning his back on Cromwell, but it is clear that the restored king wanted to establish his right to rule.

Like the Roman Emperors, Charles II sought to do this, in part, through coinage and medals. A key decision for the new regime was the selection of a portrait to circulate on the coins of the realm. The search for this image resulted in a competition and a masterpiece of numismatic art.

The Roettier brothers from Holland had come to prominence as engravers during the exile of Charles II in the Parliamentarian period and were held in such favour by Charles that he promised them positions in his Mint at the Restoration. This famously led to the competition in 1663 between the former Parliamentarian engraver, the highly regarded Thomas Simon, and the brothers Roettier. However, the fact Simon had worked for Oliver Cromwell meant his position was doomed from the start leading to his famous "Petition Crown" to the King dated 1663, arguably the most magnificent piece of milled engraving work in the British coin series, to no avail. The Roettiers were in favour and Simon was relegated to working on the small silver only.

The abbreviated Latin legends translate as on the medals obverse "Charles the Second by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland"; and on the reverse "I reign under the auspice of Christ."

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