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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
Henry VII (1485-1509)

Table of Contents

HENRY VII, 1485 TO 1509.

The coins of Henry VII were of the same weight, fineness, and value as those of Edward IV, but some changes were introduced in the type during his reign, and he struck coins both in gold and silver, namely sovereigns and shillings, of a larger denomination than had ever been struck before. In his first year Sir Giles Daubeney and Bartholomew Reed were appointed joint masters and workers of the mint, to coin pieces of the same description as had been coined under Edward IV; and in 1489 the same persons—Sir Giles having now become Lord Daubeney—were ordered to make a new money of gold according to the print and form of a piece of lead annexed to the Letters Patent. The new money was to be of the standard fineness, to be double the weight of the ryal, and to be called the sovereign, and was to be current for 20s. Out of every pound weight of gold to be coined in the Tower, two of these pieces, and no more, were to be made, unless the king should command the contrary. Sovereigns are again mentioned in a statute of the year 1504, and also half-sovereigns, but the latter are not mentioned in this indenture.

SOVEREIGNS. Of these there are four distinct types, which are here described in the order in which they appear to h been issued.

1. The king, front robed and crowned, holding the sceptre in his right hand, the orb in his left, seated on a throne, the back of which is concave, and reaches about half way up the king’s heads The base of the throne is solid, without legs, and the seat is a wide one, part of it being visible on each side of the king; it has arms, and at each corner is an ornamented pillar, the pillars in front of the arms being surmounted by a slender ornament, which may be a lis. There are no ornaments in the field. The king’s crown is arched, the principal arch being surmounted by a globe and cross, and supported by two lower arches which cross each other at right angles. All the arches are ornamented. There is a trefoil after every word, two after Trancies and Ibat. MM heraldic cinquefoil. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL FRANC Z DNS IBARNE (for Hiberniae). Rev, upon a large double rose, which fills the whole field, is a shield bearing the arms of France and England, surmounted by a large crown with a double ornamented arch, the globe and cross on the top of which extend to the edge of the coin. MM a cinquefoil. IHS AVTE TRANCIES PER MEDIV ILLORV IBAT. (45) EVANS. Rud. iv. 11. The MM and legend on the obverse are not quite accurate on this plate.

2. Similar to the last, but the throne has a low straight back of the same height as the arms, and at each corner of it is a slight unornamented pillar. The lower arches of the crown are plain. The field is chequered and covered with lis. HENRICVS x DI : GRACIA x REX x ANGLIE x ET x FRANC x DNS I x BAR. Rev, like the last, but with no crown over the shield; the rose is not so large, and is enclosed within a double tressure of ten arches, having a small lion and lis alternately in each arch, and a trefoil in each spandril. The whole within the inner circle. MM cross fitchee. IHC AVTEM TRANSCIENS PER MEDIVM ILLORVM IBATHE. Trefoil after first, third, and fourth words, two after second, fifth, and sixth. (46) Rud. iv. 3. MB. What the two last letters on the reverse mean is not clear. Possibly they were copied by mistake from the obverse of the last coin, as the spelling of “Transciens” shows that the artist was a blunderer.

3. Similar to No. 1, but the back of the throne is lower and there is a canopy of three ornamented arches, the centre one being over the king’s head. The seat projects beyond the base, and the arms are very low and far away from the king, and there are two small ornamented pillars in front of each. The field is strewn with lis, but is not chequered. The king’s crown has only one arch, which is surmounted by a globe and cross. MM lis. HENRICVS x DEI x GRA x REX x ANGL x ET x FRAN x DNS x HIBN. Rev, like the last but both rose and shield considerably smaller, and two saltires instead of trefoil in each spandril. MM dragon. : IHESVS : AVTEM : TRANSIENS : PER : MEDIVM : ILLORVM : IBAT. Four saltires and a rosette after Ibat. (47) Rud. iv. 4. MB.

4. Like the last, but the throne is highly ornamented, the back is high and in three divisions, but with no arch over the king’s head. The seat is entirely covered by the king’s robes, the arms are curved and rather high, and in front of each is a thickish pillar, that on the king’s right being surmounted by a greyhound, that on his left by a dragon. The principal arch of the king’s crown is supported by a plain arch at right angles to it. MM dragon. Legend as 2 but DEI, FRANCIE, the letters being large and mostly of the Roman form, instead of, as on all the others, the old English; two mullets, or stars with five points, after the first, second, seventh and eighth words, one after the third, fourth, and fifth. Rev, like the last, but the letters larger and coarser, nothing in the spandrils, mullet before Ihesus and after each word, two after Per and Illorum, four after Ibat. (48) Rud. iv. 5. MB.

RYAL. Obv. the king, nearly full face, with crown with upper and two lower arches all plain, standing in a ship, holding a sword in his right hand, a nearly square shield with the arms of France and England in his left. The upper part of the side of the ship is ornamented with lions and lis; there are three ropes from the stern and two from the prow, and at each end of the ship is a flag, that at the stern bearing a dragon, that at the prow an h. No MM. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC DNS IBAR. Trefoil between every word, one before R in Henric. Rev, spade-shaped shield bearing arms of France only upon a large double rose, within a tressure of ten arches, a trefoil at the point of each arch and in four spandrils; the whole within inner circle. MM cross fitchee.IHC AVTEM TRANSIENS PER MEDIV ILLORV IBAT. Trefoil between the words, except after Per. (49) Bud. iv. 6. MB. This is doubtless the coin mentioned as a half-sovereign in the statute 19 Henry VII, c. 5, with respect to clipped coins. It must have been struck by virtue of the authority to strike ryals, which were of exactly half the value of the sovereign, because the indenture for striking sovereigns contains no mention of half-sovereigns, nor is there any other authority known for the issue of half-sovereigns. It is, therefore, properly called a ryal, and its obverse is similar in general design to the ryals of Edward IV, but as the reverse is unlike the ryals and the same as that of the sovereigns, it would very likely be popularly called a half-sovereign. The alteration of type was made necessary by the fact that the rose and sun combined, which had formed the type of the former ryals, was the peculiar badge of Edward IV, and, therefore, could not be used by Henry VII, who claimed to represent the Lancastrian family.

ANGELS. First coinage. Type like those of Henry VI, but with a rose instead of a lis to the right of the cross. The obverse legend is always HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRANC. Mr. Evans, however, has one which differs from all the others in adding DNS, apparently, to this legend, and in having three instead of two ropes from the stern of the ship. The MM is doubtful. The reverse legend is PER CRVCE TVA SALVA NOS XPC REDETOR. 2. MM rose, saltire between every ? word, two after Franc. Rev. PER CRVSE TVA SALVA NOS XPC REDEMPT. MB. 3. Same but MM lis upon rose, CRVCEM, REDET, two saltires after Di, none on rev. MB. 4. As last but REDEM. MB. 5. Obv. MM heraldic cinquefoil, trefoil after every word. Rev. no MM, PER CRVC TVA SALVA NOS XPC REDETOR. Trefoil after every word except the first and last. MB. 6. No MM. Rev, legend as on the ryals, IHC AVTE TRANSIENS PER MEDIV ILORV. Saltire before Henric, trefoil after every ? word except Per and Mediu. (50) MB. 7. MM obv. heraldic cinquefoil, rev, escallop, rev, legend like the last, IHC AVT TRANSIENS PE MEDIV ILLOR IB. Stops doubtful. MB. 8. MMs as last, trefoil after every word on obv. Rev. PER CRVCE TVA SALVA NOS XPE REDE. Two rosettes between each word. The shield on the reverse of the last two is broader and rounder than on previous ones, and rests on the top of the side of the ship instead of being in front of and hiding part of it; as on the angels of the second coinage. MB.

Second coinage. The type of these is somewhat different from that of the previous angels. Obv. the Archangel Michael, with a glory round his head, and expanded wings, both knees bent, both heels resting on the Dragon, to whom his back is half turned, while he is piercing him through the mouth with a spear, the handle of which is generally shaped like a cross-crosslet and marks the termination of the legend. Rev, upon a ship, with two ropes to the mast from the stern, one from the prow, and filling up the whole space within the ship, but not concealing any part of its side, is a shield bearing the arms of France and England quarterly, surmounted by a large broad cross which conceals the lower part of the mast, at the top of which is a top-castle; h to left of cross, rose to right. 9. MM on both sides escallop shell. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGLI Z FRANC. Rev. Legend like that on the ryals, IHC AVTE TRANSIES PE MEDIV ILLOR IB. Rosette between words on both sides. The Es in the legend are peculiar, and more like reversed 3s. EVANS. 10. MM escallop shell. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRAN. Rev. PER CRVCEM TVA SALVA NOS XPE REDEM. Rosette between each word. The Es on the reverse are like those on the last coin. (51) MB. 11. MM cinquefoil. Obv. legend as last but FR, rev. PER CRVC TVA SALVA NOS, etc. (the last two words illegible). Rosette between each word. MB.12. Same but ANGLI Z FRACI, XPE REDE. Saltire between each word on obv., rosette after every word on rev. MB. 13. MM cinquefoil, obv. legend as 10 but FRANC. Saltire between the words. Rev. PER : CRVC x TVA x SALVA : NOS x XPE : RED. MB. 14. Same but AGLIE Z FRA, two saltires after Gra, Rex, and Z. MB. 15. MM greyhound’s head. HENRIC DI GRA REX AGL Z FRA. Rosette between each word. Rev. PER x CRVCE x TVA x SALVA x NOS x XPE x RED. MB. Rud. iv. 10 differs only in reading R instead of Red. 16. MM same, and legends same but HENRI, FR, CRVC, and omitting RED. Saltire after every word, two after Per and Nos. MB. 17. Same but HENRIC, DEI, ANGL, CRVCE, XP; no saltire at ends of legends. MB. 18. MM obv. greyhound’s head, rev. anchor. Legends as 15 but F, CRVC, SALV; saltire after every word except Red, two after Rex. MB. 19. MM oby. anchor, rev, greyhound’s head. Legends as 15 but REDE. Saltire between each word, two after Per and Nos. MB. 20. MM anchor. Legends as 15 but CRVC, SALV, REDE. Saltire between each word. MB. 21. Same but CRVCE, SALVA. MB. 22. Same as 20 but CRVCE, SALVA, RE, two saltires after Per, one after Re. MB. 23. MM anchor. Legends as 15 but AGLIE. Saltire between each word except after Z. MB. 24. MM pheon. Legends as 15 but FR. Saltire between every word, two after Fr, Per, and Nos. MB. 25. Same but AGLIE Z FR, only one saltire after Per and Nos, one after Red. MB. 26. As 24 but ANGL, R’ D’, only one saltire after Nos. MB. 27. MM pheon. Legends as 15 but ANGL, REDE. Saltire between every word, two after Rex, Per, Cruce, Tua, and Nos, three after Fra. MB. See Rud. iv. 7, which differs only in the arrangement of the saltires. 28. Same but RED, two saltires after Henric, Rex, Angl, Z, Per, Salva, and Nos, one between the other words, four after Fra. MB. 29. MM pheon. Legends as 15 but ANGL Z FR. Two saltires after Henric, Rex, and Z, and between each word on rev., one after Di Gra and Angl, three after Fr. MB. 30. Same with two saltires between each word, except that there is one only after Cruce and XPE. MB. The specimens of the two last coins in the British Museum are countermarked with the arms of Holland. 31. MM obv. pheon, rev. cross-crosslet. Legends as 15 but AGLIE. Two saltires after first four words on obv. and after Fra and Red. Arrow head followed by saltire at end of legend on rev. MB. 32. MM cross-crosslet. As last but saltire before obv. MM, only one between the words, arrow head also after Fra. MB. 33. MM cross-crosslet. Legends as 15 but AGLI, saltire between every word, two after Rex. MB. 34. Same but RE for Red, no saltire after Cruce, one between every other word. MB. 35. MM cross-crosslet. Legends as 15 but ANGL, two saltires after first four words on obv. and first five on rev., one after Angl and XPE, three after Fra. MB. 36. Same but ANGLIE, two saltires after Henric and Di, one after every other word except Red. MB. 37. MM cross-crosslet. Legends as 15 but FR, x after Agl, Cruce, and Tua, none after Z or Red, two saltires after the other words. THORBURN. 38. MM Portcullis, HERIC (?) x VII x DI x GRA x REX x AGL x Z. FR. Rev, legend as 15. MB. If this is a coin of Henry VII it is very curious, as being the only gold coin of his with numerals; but the numerals are not very distinct and may perhaps be intended for VIII, the coin being very like some of Henry VIII with the same mint-mark.

ANGELETS. First coinage. Type like the angels of the first coinage. MM, on both sides, rose and sun united. Legends HENRIC x DI GRA x REX ANGL. Rev. : 0 : CRVX x AVE : SPES : VNICA. (52) EVANS. Wt. 38¼ grs. This is the only specimen of angelets of the first coinage which we have seen. The MM is a badge of Edward IV and Richard III, and occurs on no other coins of Henry VII, so that this piece was no doubt struck at the very beginning of his reign.Second Coinage. Type like the angels, with some slight variations. The reverse legend is always 0 CRUX AVE SPES VNICA. 1. MM cinquefoil. HENRIC DI GRA REX ANGLI. Rosette between each word on obv., one before, two after, 0, two after Crux, one or two after Ave and Spes, three after Unica. (53) MB. 2. MM cinquefoil. HENRIC DI GRA REX AGL Z F (apparently, but this specimen is double struck). Saltire between each word on obv. and before O, two after every word on rev. MB. 3. No MM on obv., greyhound’s head? to left of mast on rev. Legends as last. Trefoil between words on obv. and after Ave, two after Spes and Unica. The mast on this coin seems to be surmounted only by a plain cross, with no top-castle. MB. 4. MM pheon. HENRIC DI GRA REX AGL Z. Two saltires between the words on both sides, one after Unica. MB. 5. MM pheon. Legend as last omitting Z, one saltire after each word on obv., two after each on rev., a cross instead of a rose to the left of the mast on rev. Rud. iv. 8. 6. MM Portcullis. Legend as 4, saltires as last. Rud. iv. 9. MB.

Henry VII’s sovereigns are very rare, a specimen having several times fetched £27 or £30; the ryal is almost unique, but the other coins are common. They were all struck at the Tower of London.

Sovereign Ryal Angel Angelet
Rose and Sun united Evans
Doubtful mint-mark, 3 ropes from stern Evans
Rose +
Lis upon rose +
Heraldic cinquefoil, Evans +
Cross fitchee + +
Lis, rev, dragon +
Dragon, mullets between the words +
No MM, rev, legend as ryals +
Heraldic cinquefoil, rev, escallop, rev, legend as ryals +
Heraldic cinquefoil, rev, escallop, rosettes between the words on rev. +
Escallop, rev, legend as ryals, ro- settes between the words Evans
Escallop, rosettes between the words +
Cinquefoil, rosettes between the words + +
Cinquefoil + +
Greyhound's head, rosettes between the words on obv. +
Greyhound's head + +
Greyhound's head, rev, anchor +
Anchor, rev, greyhound's head +
Anchor +
Pheon + +
Pheon, rev. cross-crosslet, arrow head on rev. +
Cross-crosslet, arrow head on both sides +
Cross-crosslet +
Portcullis + +

Richard III (1483-1485) | Table of Contents | Henry VIII (1509-1546)

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