Reading inscriptions

The obverse


The name of the monarch, in this case Henry VI (1422-61 and 1470-1). The name is abbreviated from Henricus and on the larger coins the full name would appear. Only on the coins of Henry III and from Henry VII onward is any indication given of which monarch is depicted, this can make identification tricky especially for the 3 consecutive Edward’s and Henry’s.

HENRIC section of inscription


The abbreviation of ‘DEI GRATIA’, meaning ‘by the grace of God’. This intends to give divine authority to the position of the monarch.

DIGRA inscription section


Simply meaning ‘king’, on coins of Elizabeth and Mary this would read REGINA for Queen.

REX inscription section


This part of the legend is used to display all titular claims of the kings authority over territories, in this case over the kingdoms of England (ANGLORUM) and (Z) France. The claim over France was first seen on the larger coins of Edward III and remained until 1816. Sometimes present in the inscription are claims over Ireland (DOMINUS HYBERNIA) or Aquitaine (ACQ).

ANGLZFRANC inscription section


CIVITAS: The prefix meaning ‘City of’, some mints use the prefix VILLA in place of CIVITAS.

LONDON The name of the mint town where the coin was struck, several spellings of the same mint names exist.

POSUI DEUM ADJUTOREM MEUM - Translated it means ‘I have made God my helper’ from Psalm 54, 4. The larger coins from Edward III’s reign onward display a Biblical quote in the outer circle of the reverse.