English Gold Coins:

Gold Penny | Gold Florin | Gold Noble | Gold Ryal | Gold Laurel | Gold Unite | Triple Unite | Gold Crown | Gold Angel | Gold Guinea | Gold Coins Of The Black Prince | Five Guineas | Gold Sovereigns | Fine Sovereign | Double Sovereign | Two Pound Coin | Five Pound Coin | Gold Proof Coins | Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Gold Coins

English Gold Coins

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Full List Of English Gold Coins

This list is organized by date of introduction of the coin. This is as far as I know a complete list (with the exception of patterns). If I have missed any obscure English Gold Coins please let me know. Note that many of the old gold coins were "revalued" several times in attempt to keep their value commensurate with the fluctuating gold-silver ratio.

Coin Type: Face Value: (shillings and pence) Number Minted Date Minted / Used: Number in Existence Notes:
GOLD STATER: c. 150 BC- c. 50 AD. Celtic. Modeled on earlier coins made in Gaul (France). Various types - see Spink or similar. Celtic tribes had their own coins.
AUREUS, SOLIDUS: c. 50 AD - c.388 Roman. Numerous variations - however official Roman coinage struck in Britain, as opposed to imported, appears not to have included any gold issues (Spink, S. 666-742).
THRYMSA: 1/8 then 2/- c. 630-675 Anglo Saxon. Varying gold content 40-70%. 25+ known examples listed by Spink (S.751-772), many of which were found in the Crondall hoard of 1828. Thrymsas were increasingly debased with silver after AD. 655 until by around 675 gold was completely superseded by silver. 330 gold coins from 410-675 are listed in "A catalogue of hoards and finds from the British isles c. AD 410-675" by Richard Abdy and Gareth Williams. [4]
MANCUS: approx 30 silver pennies ? c. 750-1000 Anglo Saxon. Very rare indeed. Only 8 gold coins of this type known to exist, each of which is a unique example of its type: Includes dinar of Offa of Mercia (757–796), moneyer Paendraed, moneyer Ciolheard, solidus of Archbishop Wigmund, Coenwulf (796-821) (see below), Edward the Elder (899-924), Æthelred II (1003-1006), Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). Almost all of these coins have over 90% gold content.
COENWULF GOLD MANCUS (PENNY): ? ? Coenwulf 796-821 1 Unique. Found in 2001 by an amateur metal detectorist, fetched a record £230,000 at auction.
GOLD PENNY of HENRY III: 1/8 then 2/- 52,480? [1] 1257-1265 8? The first English gold coin for hundreds of years. A monetary failure: Was melted down for profit owing to the stated value of the coin being less than the value of the gold content! Extremely rare coin now, worth 5-6 figures.
GOLD FLORIN aka DOUBLE LEOPARD: 6/- 1344 3 1344 coin withdrawn after a year - contained insufficient gold for their face value. Extremely rare now. Note also a gold proof of the 1922 florin (normally silver) was made - extremely rare (5 known).
HALF FLORIN aka LEOPARD: 3/- ? 1344 4 (?) Withdrawn after a year - contained insufficient gold for their face value. 4 examples known to Spink in 2006, three of which in institutions. [3]
QUARTER FLORIN aka HELM: 1/6 ? 1344 2 (?) Withdrawn after a year - contained insufficient gold for their face value. 2 examples known to Spink in 2006, both in institutions. [3]
QUARTER NOBLE: 1/8 1344-1470
HALF NOBLE: 3/4 then 4/2 1346-1438
NOBLE: 6/8 then 8/4 1344-1464 Value was increased in 1464
GOLD COINS OF THE BLACK PRINCE: various ? c.1360-1372 very few Not strictly English coins, these were examples of "Anglo-Gallic coins" - coins minted by English rulers in their French territories.
GOLD ANGEL: 6/8 1461-1643 often found with holes drilled to be made into "touch pieces"
ROSE NOBLE aka RYAL: 10/- then 15/- 1464-1470, 1487, 1553-1554, 1584-1589, 1604-1625 Includes rose ryal and spur ryal. Many rarities in this series.
HALF ANGEL: 3/4 to 5/6 1470-1619
SOVEREIGN: 20/- 1489-1604, 1817-1937 Also Double and treble sovereigns were made under Henry VII using thicker flans. Only one example of each of these piedforts exists.
CROWN OF THE ROSE: 4/6 1526-1551 2 An unsuccessful gold coin; replaced a few months later by the Crown of the Double Rose (see below). Only two specimens known.
GOLD CROWN: 5/- 1526-1662 Early crown coins were struck in gold; the first ones were known as "Crown of the Double Rose". After 1662, crowns were struck in silver - apart from a small number of ultra-rare "proof crowns", struck in gold, of later times; notably 1658 (2 known), 1831, 1847 "gothic" ("of the highest rarity"), 1935.
HALF CROWN: 2/6 1526-1600's Although thought of by many as only a silver coin, the first half crowns were struck in gold. Note also a very small number of gold proof half crowns, including 1658 (around 6 known) and 1874.
QUARTER ANGEL: 2/-? 1547-1600
HALF SOVEREIGN: 10/- 1544-1553; 1603-1604; 1817-1937 Now minted as a bullion coin
FINE SOVEREIGN: 30/- 1550-1553 Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I issued these spectacular coins. Very rare and valuable.
DOUBLE SOVEREIGN: 40/- 1550-1553 Edward VI. Extremely rare
HALF POUND: 10/- 1559-1602; 1642-1644
UNITE: 20/- 1604-1619; 1649-1662.
DOUBLE CROWN: 10/- 1604-1619, 1631-2, 1638-9, 1649-1660,
/THISTLE CROWN: 4/- 1604-1619
SPUR RYAL: 15/- 1604-1625 Seen in old books written as "Spurre Royal"
JACOBUS: 22/- 1604-1625 ?
ROSE RYAL: 30/- then 33/- from 1612 1604-1625
LAUREL: 20/- 1619-1644
HALF LAUREL: 10/- 1619-1625
QUARTER LAUREL: 5/- 1619-1625
CAROLUS: 20/- then 23/- 1625-1649 (?)
HALF UNITE: 10/- 1642-1643
TRIPLE UNITE: 60/- 1642-1644 Shrewsbury and Oxford mints
BROAD: 20/- 1656 Cromwell.
FIFTY SHILLINGS: 50/- 1656 Only eleven thought to exist. Same diameter as the Broad (see above), but 2.5 times as thick. Possibly a "piedfort proof".
GUINEA: 20/-, then 21/6, then 30/, then 21/- 1663-1799, 1813
TWO GUINEAS: 40/- then 42/- 1664-1753 Value changed to 42 shillings after the proclamation of 1717
HALF GUINEA: 10/6 1669-1813
THIRD GUINEA: 7/- 1797-1813
THREE SHILLINGS: 3/- 1812 A gold proof of the three shilling coin (normally silver) was made in 1812. Very rare.
TWO POUNDS: 40/- 1823-1937
FIVE POUNDS: 100/- 1826-1990
FIVE GUINEAS: 100/- then 105/- 1668-1753

For a list of gold proof coins of issues normally issued in silver, please go here - Gold Proof Coins


[1] http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/coins/exhibitions/CoinOfTheMoment/HenryIIIgold/
[2] http://legacy.stacks.com/Lot/ItemDetail/11258
[3] http://www.spink.com/auctions/pdf/6013.pdf p.55
[4] https://www.sceatta-rie.com/anglo-saxon_gold_coinage_in_light_of_crondall_hoard

Note - the page on the Double Sovereign includes all "two pound" coins up to 1980.

English Gold Coins - General Information

The dawn of gold coinage for England came about not due to any original intent on the part of the founders of the nation, but due to a collective drive of various Western cultures that converged throughout the centuries to make of England what is was, and of the current realm of the United Kingdom what it is today. The earliest types of English gold coins can be divided into two types – the first being coins introduced to England by the Romans and which bears many motifs and designs unique to Roman gold currency, while the second variety of early English gold currency comes from the various indigenous tribes of England such as the Celts, who developed exemplary examples of gold currency to rival even that of Rome's in terms of craftsmanship and detail well into the zenith of their production. This first type of coin may have been partly due to the conquest of Gaul by Gaius Julius Caesar which opened much of the British Isles to the influence and, eventually, the sovereignty of the Roman Empire. [1] Another main reason for the proliferation of Roman coins was due perhaps to trade, as England was then, at the time conducting trade with various areas of the rest of Europe, thus introducing the presence of foreign gold currency into England, where it was eventually used a de facto currency for trade and general commerce alongside locally generated coinage. [2]

One of the most rudimentary forms of gold coinage that sprung up in England were developed by the Celts as early as around 80 B. C. These rudimentary forms of coins, referred to by metallurgical historians as potins, were specialized alloys of bronze and tin that were cast from clay molds and trimmed into the desired shape. [3] This became the forerunner of other types of local coinage that would later be made by the Celts. The earliest potin were actually nothing more than blank ovoids or rounds, while further improvements on the casting process began to include rudimentary symbols and shapes, until the first forms of 'true' coinage featuring the images of sacred animals such as horses, wolves, and even Greek gods or heroes were made (probably inspired by the Greeks who regularly traded with the Celts, and the conquering nation of the Romans who subscribed to similar gods). Later examples of early Celtic coins began to feature their own mythological animals as well as legendary and living heroes of the time. Due to the need for a currency that could be traded with the rest of Europe, the Celts began to use gold as prime material for minting their currency resulting in stater-sized coinage that featured highly stylized and abstract images.

Further evolution of English currency came with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons who brought with them their own unique symbols and myths. Aside form copper and bronze, gold and silver were now common materials for minting coins, and the older process of casting was now by large replaced with the minting process adopted from the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons struck coinages highly inspired by Roman bronze coins featuring Latin letters and highly Christianized symbolism (circa 675 – 755 AD). Gold coins by this period were known as Thrymsa, and featured legends and relief images of Anglo-Saxon rulers. The symbols struck soon took on a decidedly Christian flavor as horses, ears of wheat, and wolves were soon replaced by equilateral crosses – a feature which would remain in many English gold coins by the time of the zenith of their production. [4]

It was not until well into the Mediaeval period that English coins began to deviate from the norm of silver currency, as it went with the flow of the European vogue for gold coinage. It was here that the 'standard' gold coins of England – the florin (aka Double-Leopard), the Leopard (half-florin) – and the Helm were made. By 1343 these gold coins began to be issued under royal proclamation, creating a standardized design that would later branch out into other denominations. After the creation these gold coins, another, more lasting and more popular one would soon take center stage – the Noble, which was commissioned and popularized during the reign of King Edward III. The Noble was to become one of the most well-known gold coins of England, with standard inscriptions that would be used in all other consecutive mints of every coin of England created within and without the realm. Examples of these royally issued gold coins bore the marks of a reigning monarch's coat of arms, as well as the now universally accepted reverse mark of the equilateral cross. Because they issued gold coins that were often un-alloyed with other metals, the practice of shaving – slowly carving away the rims of the coins to extract gold became common. To avoid discreet thievery, the length of the equilateral cross on the reverse was extended to reach to the rims of the coins, damning the shavers to iconoclasm which was considered a grave sin. [5]

By the time of Queen Elizabeth I, English coinage began to reach its peak perfection, with gold coins bearing highly ornate and detailed designs, sometimes often tooled in such detail as to make them works of art in their own right. Coins from these times were still designed by hand by hammermen [6] , until manual production was replaced with milled coinage. Milled coins were usually common silver and copper denominations, while hammering was still reserved for the production of fine gold coinage such as the gold Sovereigns. Several types of gold coins were also issued depending on the currently reigning monarch, making English gold coinage a testament not only to their economic history, but also their political one. To this day, gold coins are still minted, with antique ones becoming, first and foremost, collectibles. The majority of standards developed during the various monarchical periods of English rule would later be adopted by British currency as patterns for the creation of gold bullion – also collectibles and investment materials in their own right to this present age.

English Gold Coins - References:

[1] http://www.localhistories.org/roman.html
[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-17480016
[3] http://www.archaeologywordsmith.com/lookup.php?category=&where=headword&terms=potin
[4] http://www.bsswebsite.me.uk/A%20Short%20History%20of/coins.html
[5] http://www.worksofrichardmarsden.com/moneyhistory.htm
[6] http://archive.org/details/historyofhammerm00lums

Coin table by Alex Newman. English Gold Coins article researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for coinandbullionpages.com © coinandbullionpages.com

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