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Edward VII (Albert Edward; 1841–1910) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910. The Edwardian era, which covered Edward's reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society, including steam turbine propulsion and the rise of socialism.
1902 was a tumultuous year for British coinage, Queen Victoria had died the year previously and an entire new coinage needed to be issued with the portrait of King Edward VII designed by G.W. De Saulles. The reverse of the halfpenny was the same as that used on Queen Victoria’s coins from 1895 when the classic seated Britannia design of W.C. Lyon was modified to remove the lighthouse and ship. The reverse dies used prior to 1902 had a very slight die difference those used from that year forward, mainly in the sea level and where it intersected with the rocks behind Britannia and the robes on her right leg. Dies prior to 1902 are known as the “Normal Tide” or “High Tide” dies, while those from 1902 onward are the “Low Tide” dies. Both sets of dies are also known sometime as the “High Sea Level” and “Low Sea Level” dies.
Determining if 1902 halfpenny is a regular High Sea Level or the Low Sea Level variety is fairly simple. Look at where the water level intersects the right (front) leg of Britannia. If the water level is on the top fold of the robe almost at the point where the legs cross then it’s the normal high tide. If it intersects with the second fold of the robe below where the legs cross then it’s the low tide variety.
Bare head of the King Edward VII facing right.
EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP:
Seated Britannia facing right, wearing a plumed helmet, sandals and long flowing robes. Her right hand rests on a large oval shield bearing the combined crosses of the Union Flag, and the left hand is holding a plain trident. Value lettering surrounding, date underneath, sea behind.