Sometimes all that glitters really is gold and every once in a while we are given a genuine piece of bling to record, such as this gold half noble of Henry IV, (AD 1399-1413) which was discovered in St Helens by a metal detectorist in 2012.
Currently on the PAS database we have 1, 200,145 objects within 756,059 records, and more are being added every day. However amongst all those finds there are only 63 gold half nobles recorded, which gives you an indication of how rare this class of object is.
The obverse, or the “heads” side of the coin, depicts King Henry IV standing on a ship facing out. He’s wearing a crown and armour and is holding a sword and shield. The shield is quartered with the arms of England and France. Around the edge is the legend which reads HENRIC[DI GRA REX ANGL Z F]RANC [D]N[S HIB Z AQ]. This legend can be translated as “Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland and Aquitaine”.
The reverse, or the “tails” side of the coin is a what is called a ‘floriated’ cross – which is a cross decorated with flowers or floral motifs at the end. In each angle created by this cross is a lion with a crown above. All of this is within a decorative ring called a tressure, made up of eight arches. The legend on the reverse reads [DOMINE NE IN] FVRORE TVO ARGVAS [ME], which translates as “O Lord rebuke me not in Thine anger”.
A half noble of this type was part of the light coinage of Henry IV that dates from AD 1412-1413. This coin is of particular interest because it has no annulet (or small ring) next to the trefoil on the side of the ship and it therefore appears to be a variant type. It is these very small, subtle differences in the coins that help us to identify where and when they were made.
The coin is now recorded on the PAS database and the full record can be viewed LVPL-004154.