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Brit Tip #13

What’s the difference between “High Tide” and “Low Tide?”

The high-tide/low-tide debate has raged on for years. 50% of all dealers, particularly those not in the UK, think they have the rarer variety always. Rule #1: assume the 1902 penny or halfpenny is “High Tide,” regardless of what the holder says and bargain from there. Rule #2: assume the 1897 penny for sale is “low tide.”

Why are there two varieties? After the death of Queen Victoria, some of the old reverse dies from her reign continued to be used for some pennies and halfpennies of 1902 and all farthings of 1903. The newer dies were all higher tide. These were used exclusively by the time the 1904 issues were made.

To make life more interesting, a somewhat higher tide is found on some reverses dated 1897 for farthings, halfpennies and pennies. This higher tide is still lower than the Edward VII high tide. A direct comparison is frequently needed to distinguish them.

Confused?? Good!! See lists below for varieties 1895-1910.

Low Tide 1895-1901, 1903
Slightly Higher Tide 1897
Note: the “7” on the 1897 points to a border tooth – low tide.
The “7” points between two teeth – higher tide.
High Tide 1902, 1904-1910

Low Tide 1895-1902.  1902 is scarce
Somewhat Higher Tide 1897
Note: both varieties are similarly valued and fairly easy to distinguish.
High Tide 1902-1910

No sea on left side 1895 2 mm variety – very scarce
Low Tide 1895-1902
Slightly Higher Tide 1897 rare
Note: the “P” of “PENNY” points to a border tooth – low tide.
The “P” points between two teeth – higher tide.
High Tide 1902-1910

Figure 1.  High tide (Top) and low tide (bottom) for 1902 pennies.
High tide extends to point where legs cross.  Low tide is below leg crossing.

Posted on CU 9/20/2003