Autocorrect Fail – Spelling Mistakes on Coins

With the 50th anniversary of decimalisation and hundreds of millions of coins made over the millennia, I thought I would look at one particular element; die errors. More specifically, spelling mistakes. There is no real rhyme or reason to them, they are not that uncommon, but they do catch the eye and can confuse when recording.

I’ve shared this coin a few times recently. It is a gold quarter noble of Edward III (1327-1377), Fourth Coinage (Pre-Treaty Period), Series G type Ga/Gd mule, dating AD1356-61 (North 1189/1190), mint: London. Ref: North 1991: 52. But, what is most interesting it that it is a mule (obverse and reverse designs not normally seen on the same piece) as well as having a spelling mistake.

The coin should read EXALTABITVR IN GLORIA, however, this one reads EXALTABITVR IN GALhORI, which is a rarely seen variant.

BERK-8CCFE5 Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

One would imagine that this would be isolated to one mint, this one die. However, this is the third such coin on the database but the others, from Sussex, are from at least one different die.

SUSS-538E67 Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0
SUSS-B348A4 Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

There is yet another Edward III quarter noble from Lincolnshire with a mistake but this one is slightly different. This time it reads EXALTABITVR IN GnLORIA. 

SWYOR-C538F4 Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Once again there is another example of this mistake from Suffolk.

SF-CB2C57 Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Once the coin die has reached the stage of striking then it is too late and multiple coins will be struck with the die. Whatever the reason, through poor copying, illiteracy or misunderstanding the inscription, mistakes were made.

You would think then in modern times that these errors would no longer occur with more stringent checks in places before a coin is minted. However, since decimalisation there are have been a number of errors on coins. One of the most recent is the 400th anniversary coin of the Gunpowder Plot. The most common variation is “Pemember, Pemember the Fifth of November” but other variations such as Pemembep and Novemebep. Clearly there was some error in the striking of Rs on these coins.

https://www.changechecker.org/2015/04/30/always-pemember-the-facts-about-rare-2-coins/

There are a number of die errors that have appeared on coins over the millennia and there is a relative handful on the PAS compared with the number of recorded coins. They are and interesting group.