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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
Henry IV (1399-1413)

Table of Contents

HENRY IV, 1399 TO 1413.

Henry IV’s coinage, until the year 1412, when the weight was reduced, was continued on the same principles as that of his predecessors, the noble remaining of the weight of 120 grs., and of the current value of 6s 8d, and the fineness being, as before, 23 carats 3½ grs. pure gold to ½gr. alloy. The type also continued exactly the same. NOBLES. 1399-1412. Type as before; obv., the king in armour, crowned, holding in his right hand a sword, in his left a shield bearing the arms of France and England quarterly, standing in a ship ornamented on the side with lions and us. The number of lis in the French arms varies. Rev, within a compartment of double moulding of eight arches, having a trefoil in each spandril, is a cross potent upon a beaded cross voided, with corniced and foliated ends. In the centre of the cross is h for Henry within a compartment of four arches and four angles, with a trefoil at each angle; opposite each extremity is a lis, and in each angle is a lion passant guardant with a crown above it. The known varieties are, 1. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC DNS HI Z AQ. No flag, French arms semé de lys, three ropes from stern, one from prow, as on Richard II’s coins, ornaments on ship, lis, lion, lis, lion, lis, lion. Rev. IHC AVTEM TRANSIENS PER MEPTV ILLORvM IBAT. Rud. Suppl. vi. 20. Wt. 119½ grs. 2. HENRIC . . . . . ANGL x Z : FRANC x D x HIB x Z AQE. Flag at stern, French arms semé de lys, three ropes from stern, one from prow, ornaments on ship, lion, lis, lion, lis, lion, lis. Rev, as 1, with saltire between each word. Rud. i. 13. The weight of this coin is given as only 105 grs., but it has evidently suffered so much from clipping that it must originally have belonged to the heavy coinage. 3. Obv. legend as 1, flag at stern, three lis only in French arms, ropes and ornaments as 2. Rev, as 1, two saltires between the words. EVANS. Wt. only 103½ grs., but considerably clipped. 4. HENRIC DI x GRA x REX : ANGL x Z x FRANC x DNS x HIB Z AQ. No flag. Three lis only in the French arms, four ropes from stern, one from prow, ornaments on ship, lis, lion, lis, lion, lis, lion, lis. Rev, as 1, with two saltires between each word. MB. Wt. 118.8 grs. See Rud. ii. 6. This coin was purchased in 1848 from the Pembroke collection for £21. 5. HENRIC X DI GRA REX ANGL Z X FRANC X DNS RIB X Z AQI No flag, three us only in the French arms, ropes and ornaments as 2. Rev. IHC x AVTEM TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORVM : IBAT. Cross in second quarter above the lion’s tail. (19) EVANS. Wt. 118¼ grs 6. HENRIC x DI x GRA x REX x ANGL x Z x FRANC x DNS x HYB. Trefoil or quatrefoil after Hyb, trefoil? at king’s wrist, trefoil at prow; three lis only in the French arms; three ropes from stern, two from prow, ornaments on side of ship, lion, two lis, lion, two lis; annulet below them; annulet? between the king’s arm and his sword. Rev. IHC x AVTEM : TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIV x ILLORV x IBAT. Trefoil or quatrefoil over head of lion in second quarter. Rud. iii. 3. Wt. 113 grs. Very rare.

HALF-NOBLES. 1399 to 1412. We know of no specimens. In Henfrey’s “Guide to English Coins,” the legends are given as Henric Di Gra Rex Angl z Franc. Rev. Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me. Gold half nobles seem to be intimately connected with silver half groats, frequently having the same mint-marks, &c.; and of heavy half groats of Henry IV only one or two specimens are known.

QUARTER NOBLES. 1399 to 1412. Type as before. HENRIC . . . . . ANGL Z FRAN. French arms semé de lys. Crescent over shield. Rev. EXALTABITVR IN GLORIA. Pellet in centre of cross. (20) EVANS. Weight 30 grs. Ext. rare.

Throughout this reign constant complaints were made in Parliament of the want of gold and silver money, and various enactments were passed to prevent its exportation; and at last in the 13th year of the king, 1411, “because of the great scarcity of money at this time within the realm of England, and because of other mischiefs and causes manifest,” the weight of all the coins was reduced, so that a pound of gold, Tower weight, which had previously been made into 45 nobles, was now to be made into 50, thus bringing down the weight of the noble to 108 grains. Its nominal value was still 6s 8d, and the fineness was the same as before. This statute came into operation at Easter, 1412, and as the king died on the 20th of March, 1412-13, the coins struck by virtue of it in his reign must all have been struck in rather less than a year, and they are accordingly rare. The great rarity of the earlier coins is easily accounted for, as they were scarce before the statute, and would naturally be melted down as soon as the weight was reduced.

A little before this reduction of weight, the number of lis in the French arms, which had hitherto been indefinite, was reduced to three by Charles VI; but the old form continued to be used on the quarter nobles of Henry IV till the end of his reign, and any light nobles or half nobles having the French arms semé de lys would necessarily be attributed to this second coinage; but we do not know of the existence of any of these. The new form was used by Henry V, when Prince of Wales, as early as the sixth year of his father, and seems to have been adopted upon the heavy nobles at about the same date. It is necessary, therefore, to look for some other means than the form of the French arms to distinguish the last coinage of Henry IV from that of his son, and a comparison of the gold with the silver coins of this period leads us to believe that all or almost all of the nobles and half nobles, as well as of the groats and half groats, struck in the last year of Henry IV, were marked in some part or other with a trefoil, as is the last described of his heavy nobles. The trefoil occurs also on a few coins which we attribute to the beginning of Henry V’s reign, but in that case it seems to be always connected with a pierced cross at the beginning of the legend, which is a distinguishing mark of the silver coins of Henry V. These trefoil-marked coins are certainly the earliest we possess of the light coins of the three Henries, and it is very unlikely that no specimens of the coinage of 1412 should have come down to us. According to this rule, the following coins belong to Henry IV.

NOBLES, 1412. Type as before. There are only three lis in the French arms, and there is no flag at the stern of the ship. 1. HENRIC : DI : GRA x REX x ANGL x Z x FRANC x DNS : HIB x Z A. Three ropes from stern, one from prow. Ornaments on ship lis, lion, two lis, lion, lis.Slipped trefoil below them on the side of the ship. Rev. IHC : AVTEM : TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORV IBAT. Trefoil at head of lion in third quarter. (21) MB. Wt. 106 grs. 2. Same but FRAC, AQ, ILLORYM, annulet as well as trefoil on side of ship, trefoil in second instead of third quarter of rev., saltire between each word on obv., two on rev. EVANS. Wt. 108 grs.

HALF NOBLES, 1412. Type as the nobles. 1. HENRIC x DI x G x REX x ANGL x Z x FRAC x D x H x AQ. Two ropes from stern, one from prow. Ornaments on ship, lion, lis, lion, lis, lion; annulet and trefoil below them. Rev. DOMINE : NE : IN : FVRORE : TVO : ARGVAS : ME. Trefoil at head of lion in first quarter. EVANS. 2. Same, but trefoil in second quarter instead of first. EVANS. 3. Same, but trefoil in fourth quarter, two saltires after Me. (22) EVANS. Weight of all three about 53 grs.

QUARTER NOBLES, 1412. These are not all marked, like the nobles and half nobles, with a trefoil in the field, but nearly all of them have more than three lis in the French arms, and are distinguishable by this means from the coins of Henry V and VI. Type like the first issue, viz. Obv. a shield with the arms of France and England quarterly within a double tressure of eight arches, having a trefoil at each angle; the whole within an inner circle. MM cross patée. Rev, within a double tressure of eight arches is a cross having an annulet or lis in the centre, the extremities are foliated, and there is a lis opposite each of them, and a lion passant guardant in each angle. The whole within an inner circle. MM cross patée. 1. HENRICVS : DI : GRA : ANGL : Z FRAN. Crescent? above shield. French arms semé de lys. Rev. EXALTABITVR : IN : GLORIA. Annulet in the centre of the cross. Rud. i. 14. Wt. 25½ grs. 2. HENRICVS x D : GRA : REX : ANGL. French arms semé de lys. Rev, as last but a lis in centre of cross, saltire after Gloria. MB. Wt. 18.8 grs. 3. HENRIC DEI GRA REX ANGL. Four lis in first quarter of shield, three in fourth quarter. Trefoil after Henric, other stops doubtful. Rev, as 2, but stops doubtful, h after Gloria. MONTAGU Wt. 23½ grs. 4. HENRIC : DEI : GRA : REX : ANG. Lis above the shield, slipped trefoil with annulet below it on each side of the shield; French arms semé de lys. Rev. EXALTABITVR IN GLORIA, lis in centre of cross, stops between words doubtful. (23) MB. Wt. 20.8 grs. 5. HENRIC x DI x GRA x REX x ANGL. Lis above the shield, slipped trefoil with annulet below it on each side. Three lis only in the French arms. Rev. EXALTABITVR x IN x GLORIA x Lis in centre. MB. Wt. 20 grs.

Henry IV appears to have struck coins in London only, and they are all rare. At Mr. Forster’s sale, in 1868, a noble of the first coinage sold for £12, and one of the second coinage for £11.

TABULAR VIEW.
Noble. ½Noble. ¼Noble.
1ST COINAGE, 1399-1412
French arms semé de lis, no flag Rud.
French arms semé de lis, flag at stern Rud.
French arms semé de lis, crescent above shield Evans
French arms three lis, flag at stern Evans
French arms three lis, no flag +
French arms three lis, cross in 2nd quarter Evans
French arms three lis, trefoil ? after Hyb, at prow, at wrist, and in 2nd quarter, annulet on side of ship and between arm and sword Rud.
2ND COINAGE, 1412.
Trefoil on side of ship and in 3rd quarter +
Trefoil and annulet on side of ship, trefoil in 1st quarter Evans
Trefoil and annulet on side of ship, trefoil in 2nd quarter Evans Evans
Trefoil and annulet on side of ship, trefoil in 4th quarter Evans
French arms semé de lis, crescent above shield, annulet in centre of rev. Rud.
French arms semé de lis, crescent above shield, lis in centre of rev. +
French arms semé de lis, crescent above shield, lis in centre of rev., trefoil in obv. legend Montagu
French arms semé de lis, crescent above shield, lis in centre of rev. and above shield, trefoil and annulet on each side +
French arms three lis, otherwise as last +

Richard II (1377-1399) | Table of Contents | Henry V (1413-1422)


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