Group H marks the start of Class I and is defined on the obverse by a solid elliptical eye with an eyebrow ridge above it that touches or intersects the top of the nose. With the exceptions of Coins 43 and 45, the back of the neck is formed from one of the hairs. This may have been influenced by the similar design on Group F and G of Series X. If this is so, the Series Y coins would not have gone into production earlier than Group F. There is also a possibility that the engravers of Group F were influenced by those of Group H, indicating that Group H precedes Group F. A third possibility would be that each die engraver developed the idea on his own, and there is no connection. Detailed study of the metal quality by groups instead of by classes may provide the answer.
Within part of Group H are two sub-groups: these groups relate to specific design elements, so that a single coin in Group H could belong to sub-groups H1, H2, both, or neither, since these sub-groups overlap. It is possible that the die engravers wished to isolate these coins in a single group, but the dies were mixed up, as one sub-group is defined by an obverse variation, the other by a reverse variation. Subgroup H1 runs from coins 37 to 40; H2 runs from coins 39 to 42. Sub-group H1 is defined by the presence of a beaded martingale in front of the pony. A martingale, or pole strap, enables a horse to back up while attached to a load without dislodging its collar. Sub-group H2 is defined by the mouth on the obverse head that is shaped somewhat likes the letter "C".
The chronology is as follows:
(33, 34, 35, 36), (37, 38),
(37, 38), (39, 40).
(39, 40), (41, 42).
The first four coins of Group H are difficult to place in a chronological order. There are differences, but they are not of an evolutionary nature; rather, they are better expressed as variations.
The obverse of Coin 33 has a single bead lip from which the mouth ornament descends. The nose extends higher than the eyebrow line.
On the reverse, the lash from the curl of the head above the pony is composed of two wavy strands enclosing two X's. The strands connect in a bead in front of the pony's nose, and two straight lines proceed diagonally from this point to connect to the outside beads on the upper corners of the banner, which is of a "Union Jack" design.
The obverse of Coin 34 is similar to the preceding coin.
On the reverse, the lash is a single, slightly wavy line that splits into two irregularly curved lines and attaches to the banner at the same position as on the last coin.
On the obverse of Coin 35, the eyebrow line extends past the forehead section and continues as the lowest line of the forelock, making the forelock considerably larger than on the previous two coins. The nose is set forward, and the bridge descends almost vertically. There are now two pellets for a mouth. The neck section is shorter than the other coins in this group.
The reverse of Coin 35 is similar to the previous coin, except that the lash is wavier and the suspenders connect to the center and right- hand beads of the top of the banner.
The obverse of Coin 36 is characterized by a rather small face and a large forelock with a thick central line. The nose connects to the end of the eyebrow line.
The reverse of this coin is similar to that of Coin 34, except that the banner suspenders are evenly curved outward.
The obverse of Coin 37 is similar to that of the previous coin, but the forelock reverts to the usual size.
The reverse of this coin is the first die of Subgroup H1, distinguished by the presence of the beaded martingale in front of the pony's chest section, connecting to the top of its front leg. An interesting feature of this subgroup is that each of the banners is of a different design. The significance of the banners' designs is discussed in Chapter 6.
The pony's nose has no bead. The lash is a wavy line, the suspenders attach to the top bar of the banner. The banner is of the same design as those on the previous coins.
The obverse of Coin 38 has a larger head than that on the previous coin, but there are no design differences other than that of general proportions.
Subgroup H1 continues with this reverse, which has a lash similar to the last coin. There are three suspenders connecting to a banner formed of two opposed double chevrons within the rectangle. The pony's nose has a bead. The back of the boar's head, instead of being apparently open, is now enclosed by a continuation of the line at the base of its head.
The obverse of Coin 39 marks the start of Subgroup H2; all these coins have a C-shaped mouth. On this coin, the mouth ornament consists of three lines, each starting with a bead at the mouth. These lines curved downward, converging into a single line at the chin, terminating in the usual curl in front of the neck. The base of the neck is beaded a feature that will remain on all of the coins of Group H and I, with the possible exception of Coin 47 in this group.
The reverse of Coin 39 is part of Subgroup H1. The lash is a twisted double line with two suspenders connecting to the upper corners of the banner. The banner is a long rectangle divided by a bar into two squares, each containing an X. The boar's head is treated similarly to the one on the previous coin, although here the head is in outline, and is moved forward to emphasize this.
On the obverse of Coin 40, the second die of Subgroup H2, the die engraver has modified the mouth ornament. Instead of having the three lines converge, he continues only the top line to the curl, and the other two lines form almost parallel curves floating freely within the space enclosed by the top, outer line.
The reverse of Coin 40 is the last die of Subgroup H1. The lash consists of two wavy lines; the inner line divides into two suspenders that attach to the left and center beads at the top of the banner, while the outer line connects to the right bead of the banner. The banner itself consists of a rectangle containing a cross with diamonds superimposed on the top and the bottom halves. The boar's head is similar to that on Coin 38.
The obverse of Coin 41 is similar to that of the preceding coin.
The reverse resembles Coin 34 to 36, although the exact design of the lash is uncertain: the banner in front of the pony is a "Union Jack" design, the martingale disappears, and the boar's head resumes its regular design.
The last coin of Subgroup H2, Coin 42, is a novelty. It was this coin that inspired the sculpture by Rybot illustrated in the frontispiece of his book. The most notable difference in the obverse is the mouth ornament: it starts below the chin with a pellet-in-circle sun symbol. Two lines issue from it at the 2 o'clock position: the lower line is beaded and curves upward in front of the mouth; the upper lines short, and connect to the beaded line. In front of the mouth, the beaded line meets a downward-turning curl, from which hangs a leaf. The entire ornament is a variation on an S-scroll, the sun symbol and its solid line in a subtle reversal of the curl and leaf.
The beaded truncation of the neck, being between the lines of the neck instead of below them, is shorter as a result. A small line extends forward from the top of the lowest ear scroll, at an angle again reminiscent of the curl and leaf.
On the reverse of Coin 42 there is an extra line and bead between the driver's nose and his hand. The banner is replaced by a large curl, from which hangs a broad leaf. The lash is a double strand. To a modern eye, the design of Coin 42 is most pleasing, because of both its introduced novelties, as well as its general proportions. The jaw of the head does not recede like many of its contemporaries, but is set in a proud and defiant manner. The die engraver, however, retained only a single feature of these two subgroups: the beaded truncation of the neck. It seems unlikely that the design of Coin 42 was disliked by its creator, rather that it was so pleasing that to repeat it would lessen its power. This attitude is also seen in Coins 16 and 17 of Group E (Class IV).
The example of Coin 42 in my own collection, allegedly from the Le Catillon hoard, is weakly struck on the obverse. This obscures some of the subtle features such as the small line on the ear-curl; also, the ornament in front of the mouth is only semi-visible, being at the very edge of the coin. It must be admitted that the engraver may have felt his efforts wasted if these were common faults with the design. The same may be true of Coins 16 and 17, practical considerations inhibiting the free reign of artistic expression.
The last five coins of Group H are essentially similar to the first few coins of this group, having the earlier design of the mouth and the banner, the major difference being the presence of the beaded truncation on the obverse neck.
The head on the obverse of Coin 43 has a very small neck with a considerably curved truncation. The back of the neck is not formed from one of the hairs; in other respects, it is close in style to Coin 36, the last coin before the start of Subgroup H1.
The reverse is nearly identical to that of Coin 35. There is a great possibility here that Coin 43 really belongs with Coin 35 and 36; I have separated them solely on account of the beaded truncation. Given the tendency of many of the Series Y coins to abandon, then later resume, particular elements, there can be little certainty about the groupings.
The obverse of Coin 44 has a nose line that extends above the eyebrow, and the neck is lower at the back than at the front.
The reverse of Coin 44 is nearly identical to that of Coin 36.
The obverse of Coin 45 is similar to the proceeding coin. Except that the back of the neck is not formed from a hair, and that the curl is detached from the rest of the mouth ornament in a novel way, the break emphasized by a bead on each side of the gap. The line of the nose stops only slightly above the eyebrow.
The reverse of Coin 45 is similar to that of the preceding coin.
On the obverse of Coin 46, the eyebrow line is de-emphasized, and there is no mouth ornament, an omission which continues until the last two coins of the following group.
The reverse of Coin 46 dispenses with the usual rectangular banner, and in its place are two curl-and-leaf motifs: the outer one being the smallest, connecting to the lash; the inner one terminating in a bead in front of the mane at the pony's forehead.
I have placed Coin 47 at the end of Group H because, while the truncation of the neck may or may not be beaded; the enlarged eye on the obverse is given a lower eyelid.
The reverse resembles that of Coins 43 and 35, but the chest section of the boar, rather than being formed of a bead or a bead-like shape abruptly joined to a narrow belly, as in the other coins of Group H, is joined with the belly, as in the other coins of Group H, is joined with the belly in a smooth diagonal to create a solid wedge.
The coins of Group H are arranged by convenience as much as they are by chronology, since the indecisiveness of the die engraver(s) must lead to indecisiveness on the part of the cataloguer. It is apparent that we are dealing with a very different psychology in this Class I coins than was encountered in Series X. While the engraver of Group H could, on occasion, rise to the task and produce a work of considerable artistic merit. His concept of the series being a work-in-progress in itself was weak, and the rich variations to be found in Series X, defining the evolution of the designs, are here severely lacking.