Florin (English coin)

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Obverse Edward III Double Leopard.jpg

The English florin, sometimes known as the double leopard was an attempt in 1344 by Edward III to produce gold coinage suitable for use in Europe as well as in England. It was authorised on 27 January 1344, and struck from 108 grains (6.99829 grams) of nominal pure ('fine') gold and had a value of six shillings (equivalent to 30 modern pence). [1] [2] [3]


The continental florin, based on a French coin and ultimately on coins issued in Florence in 1252, was a standard coin (3.50 g fine gold) widely used internationally. The newly-introduced English florin at twice this nominal weight was ultimately found to be wrongly tariffed, resulting in it being unacceptable to merchants. It was almost immediately withdrawn from circulation and in August 1344, after only a few months, it was replaced by the more successful gold noble (7.80g gold, valued at 6s 8d).


Reverse Edward III Double Leopard Reverse.jpg

The obverse of the coin shows the king enthroned beneath a canopy, with two leopards' heads at the sides; the legend is EDWR D GRA REX ANGL FRANC DNS HIB ("Edward, by the Grace of God King of England and France, Lord of Ireland"). The reverse shows the royal cross within a quatrefoil, a leopard in each spandrel; the legend is IHC TRANSIENS PER MEDIUM ILLORUM IBAT ("But Jesus passing through their midst went his way", from Luke 4:30).

Surviving coins

Only three examples of the coin are known. Two were discovered together on the banks of the River Tyne in 1857, and are now held by the British Museum. [4] Another was discovered at an undisclosed location in the south of England in 2006 and was sold at auction for £460,000, then a record price for a British coin. [5] The coin was subsequently loaned to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, [6] before changing hands in 2016 for an undisclosed seven figure sum to a private collector in the United States. [7]

A 2013 list included the coin as one of the most expensive in the world. [8]

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The florin was an attempt by English King Edward III to produce a gold coinage suitable for use in Europe as well as in England. The florin was largely based on contemporary European gold coins, with a value of three shillings. The gold used to strike the coins was overvalued, resulting in the coins being unacceptable to the public, and the coins were withdrawn after only a few months in circulation in August 1344 to be melted down to produce the more popular noble. Few specimens have survived of what is often regarded as one of the most beautiful medieval English coins ever produced.

The Quarter Florin or Helm was an attempt by English King Edward III to produce a gold coinage suitable for use in Europe as well as in England. The Helm, based on contemporary European gold coins had a value of one shilling and sixpence. However, the gold used to strike the coins was overvalued, resulting in the coins being unacceptable to the public, and the coins were withdrawn after only seven months in circulation, and eventually demonetised in August 1344, to be melted down to produce the more popular gold Noble.

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  1. Great Britain Royal Mint (1906). Catalogue of the Coins, Tokens, Medals, Dies, and Seals in the Museum of the Royal Mint (volume 1 ed.). H.M. Stationery Office. p. 40. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  2. Emma Howard (August 2018). Coins of England & the United Kingdom 2018: Predecimal Issues. Spink. ISBN   978-1-907427-63-3.
  3. Spink, Coins of England and the United Kingdom. 46th edition standard catalogue of British coins, 2011.
  4. "coin | British Museum". The British Museum. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  5. "News – The Scotsman". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  6. "Fitzwilliam Museum". www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  7. Company, Numismatic Guaranty (2016-06-30). "World Coins - NGC Grades Most Valuable English Coin 1344 Double Leopard". CoinWeek. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  8. "The 10 Most Expensive Coins and Banknotes in the World". mentalfloss.com. 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2019-05-01.