SSC Provenance Mark on British Coins

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 3 Dec 2018

Last Updated: 20 Aug 2019

The letters 'SSC' Denote Silver Provided by the South Sea Company

Provenance marks on English/British coins are unusual, but not unknown. There are several different provenance marks which indicate the source of the metal used to strike certain coins.

Provenance Marks on British Coins

Under Charles II, and as early as 1662, a rose was used as a provenance mark on silver coins made using silver from mines in the West of England. This was placed under the bust of the King. The practice of using provenance marks was used earlier on the coins of Charles I, when silver coins struck at Aberystwyth using silver from Welsh mines was marked with a prominent plume of feathers.

'SSC' as a Provenance Mark

In 1723, the Notorious South Sea Company was contracted to supply the silver used to strike some of the silver coins for that year. This company had been at the epicentre of one of the world's most disastrous financial crises. 

SSC in Reverse Field on a  George I Shilling

The South Sea Company had been granted a charter to trade with the Spanish colonies in South America, and the company vastly over-inflated its share price by giving the impression to shareholders, the government, and the public that its potential for growth was larger than it actually was. In fact, its opportunities were limited by the restrictions put upon it by the King of Spain, who only permitted one ship per year carrying a cargo of no more than 500 tons to land in a Spanish-controlled port, on top of which he demanded a hefty cut of the profits. 
By 1720, share prices had reached an astonishing £1,000 per share (unadjusted for modern-day inflation!), but doubts about the profitability of the company crept in, and shareholders started to doubt the viability of the company, with the result that share prices collapsed as shareholders tried to get rid of their shares before they became worthless. The scandal resulted in the imprisonment of John Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and many of the company's directors. However, the company itself survived until the 1850s, helping to manage the government debt it had taken on before the collapse in its share price. 
The contract to supply the silver was possibly an attempt by the government to support the viability of the company in the wake of the disaster.

Other Provenance Marks

Other provenance marks used on British coins were:-

Mark Origin
Plumes / Feathers Wales
Roses & Plumes Company for Smelting Down Lead with Pit Coale and Sea Coale
Roses Silver from the West of England Mines
WCC Welsh Copper Company
LIMA Lima, Peru
Elephant & Castle The Africa Company
VIGO Captured from the Spanish at the Battle of Vigo Bay

We also have a page dedicated to Provenance Marks on British Coins


If you want to find the value of a coin you own, please take a look at our page I've Found An Old Coin, What's It Worth?

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