On a visit to the Huntington Library today to view the conservation work being done on Gainsborough's The Blue Boy, I discovered a small exhibit I don't remember seeing before. The silver cylinder is called a Counter Box, and normally held silver disks with the likenesses of the king and queen. It is thought the disks were used in games of chance. According to the exhibit, it is highly unusual to find one containing silver coins. The coins were minted in the 16th century during the reign of Edward VI (1537 - 1553) of England.
Needles to say, I need to do more research into the coins, as well as the "Counter Box" (perhaps the subject of another blog!). But for today, it was just nice to be reminded, once again, of the infinite possibilities for discovery our hobby affords us.
Update: My research on these coins so far has been fascinating. I have established, I think, that they are all shillings of Edward VI and minted between the late 1540s, when Edward became king, and the early 1550s. There is, of course, the Tudor Rose, and the XII barely visible on a couple coins on the obverse indicate value. They were minted at both the Tower of London mint and Southwark; I believe the Tower coins are identified by the letter “y” on some of the coins, but not sure yet. Fascinating stuff.