SOM-AF623E: Medieval coin: Contemporary copy of a noble of Henry VI

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-AF623E

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Contemporary copy of a gold noble of Henry VI (first reign) dating to AD 1422 to 1427. Annulet issue. London mint. Copying North (1991) no. 1414. The coin has two outer sheets of probably slightly debased gold around a base metal core. The core has now degraded and the outer metal has slightly tarnished, betraying the false metal. Post deposition damage in the form of a tear to one side shows the hollow centre where the core has decayed. There are also a few places around the edge where the foil outers have peeled back from the core although it is not clear if this is post deposition damage. The centre is filled with a dark grey material, the colour and slight laminar corrosion structure suggests a silver, probably a base silver or a lead alloy. There is no evidence of cutting or destruction to indicate the coin was identified as false prior to loss.

The dies used to create the forgery are well made to the casual appearance but have some poorly made details, and obvious flaws such a misaligned h on the reverse, some letters, such as the n in FRAnC and DnS are misaligned and stops are often missing or added at random places such as a trefoil within rather than after hEnRIC. Contraction marks are also missing. There is an area of smoothness on both sides at the same point which appears to result from a lack of striking or damage while the flan was hot, at 4 o'clock on the obverse and, less badly, at 11 o'clock on the reverse.

Oddy et al (2012) in a study of forgeries of English Medieval gold coins found those that appear plated (as opposed to made in debased metal) were all plated using fire gilding, often, like this example, extremely thickly so the 'gold' made up nearly 50% of the mass and can appear as a separate surface sheet when the core has degraded (p.238). The gilded blanks were then struck between forged dies. In the cases of gilded examples all the coins they examined had high purity gold surfaces.

In this current coin the 'gold' also appears tarnished and probably impure, a feature also see on BH-A52661, a fragment of a gold noble forgery of the same issue where the core was identified as lead alloy. It iseems likely this coin, and BH-A52661, reflect a third method of forgery, 'fourrée' copies, ie made with slightly debased gold foil clinched around a base metal core then stamped, not identified in the Oddy et al paper, or that occasionally the heaviest style of gilding was carried out with debased metal. It is hoped, in future, the material composition of this example can be tested to identify this.

Oddy et al (2012) suggest a concentration of forging in the earlier 15th century, ie from 1412 to 1465, including both copies of contemporary issues and copies of older types still in circulation (p.242). Their article includes two plated copies of nobles of Henry VI, annulet issue, no. 10 and 11, the latter from the Fishpool hoard. Neither are die duplicates with this example although their example 10 also has a mis-aligned h.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Regional importance

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1422
Date to: Circa AD 1427

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 6.42 g
Diameter: 34.67 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st June 2019 - Tuesday 2nd July 2019

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 18208

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Secondary material: Base Silver
Completeness: Complete

Coin data (numismatics)

Denomination: Noble
Ruler/issuer: Henry VI of England (first reign)
Mint or issue place: London
Category: English coin Late Medieval 1377 - 1489
Type: Gold noble: Henry VI, First reign, Annulet (N 1414 - 1416)
Obverse description: King standing facing in ship at sea with sail furled, holding sword in his right hand and shield on left arm, annult by his right elbow. Ropes 2 and 1.
Obverse inscription: HE trefoil [nRI]C lis DI G . REX, stops trefoil A.NGL Z FRnC DnS hYB, stops trefoil, lis and pellet, otherwise none
Reverse description: Triple stranded cross flueretty in eight arched tressure, crowned lions passant guardants in quarters, cell in the cnetre of the cross containing h and with trefoils on its quarters. Trefoils in spandrels. The h is misaligned, being at 4 o'cklock when the lis at the start of the legend is at 12.
Reverse inscription: Lis IHC o AUT o TRAnSIEnS o PE[R ME]DVIM o ILLORV I, Annulet stops
Initial mark: Fleur de lis
Die axis measurement: 10 o'clock
Degree of wear: Slightly worn: very fine

Coin references

No coin references available.

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Devon (County)
District: East Devon (District)
To be known as: Ottery St Mary

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Oddy, W . A, Archibald, M.M., Cowell, M.R., and Meeks, N.D. 2012 Forgeries of Medieval English Gold Coins: Techniques of Production London Royal Numismatic Society

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 2 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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