Piedfort

Last updated
Piedfort on the right Essai-Piefort.jpg
Piedfort on the right

A piedfort [1] ( UK: /piˈfɔːrt,ˈpɛdˌfɔːrt/ , [2] [3] US: /piˌˈfɔːr,piˈfɔːr/ ; [4] [1] French : pied-fort or piéfort [5] [pjefɔʁ] ) is an unusually thick coin, often exactly twice the normal weight and thickness of other coins of the same diameter and pattern. Piedforts are not normally circulated, and are only struck for presentation purposes by mint officials (such as patterns), or for collectors, dignitaries and other VIPs. [6] Piedfort is less commonly spelled "piefort".

Contents

History

Piedfort of gold ecu, Louis XIII, France, 1643 Piefort de l'ecu d'or, Louis XIII, 1643.jpg
Piedfort of gold écu, Louis XIII, France, 1643

Piedfort coins were first recorded in France and Great Britain during the Middle Ages, with the first French piedforts appearing in the 12th century. The reason the coins were minted in piedfort form was probably to prevent them from being lost among normal circulating coins. [7] Theories for the original purpose of the earliest piedfort coins are:

  1. As patterns for administrative approval. [8]
  2. As patterns to show engravers in different mints what an approved design should look like. [7]
  3. As reckoning counters or jetons for mint officials, akin to a simple milestone or the beads on a more complex abacus. [9] [10]

Later, the higher rarity of piedfort versions of a nation's coinage led to them being used as prestigious diplomatic gifts to kings, nobility, dignitaries and other VIPs. Note that coin collecting has traditionally been called "the hobby of kings". The demand for piedforts from politically influential coin collectors resulted in such routine production that a droit de pied fort, or "right of piedfort", was instituted as a formal code of rules defining who was entitled to a piedfort version of a new coin design. Edicts of such rules date back to at least 1355 in France. [11] [12]

The first British piedforts were silver pennies minted during the reign of Edward I (1272 to 1307). Britain stopped routinely minting piedforts in 1588, but France continued to mint them for at least another 150 years before also ceasing production. The routine production of piedforts began again in France in 1890, and Britain began to produce piedforts available to the public for the first time in 1982. [7] Since then, Britain's Royal Mint has become well-known for creating many commemorative piedfort coins. [13] China produced piedforts for collectors in 1988. [14]

Etymology

Piedfort is a compound of the French words "pied" (foot), [15] and "fort" (strong, great, heavy). [16] It literally means "heavy foot", but the idiomatic meaning is "heavy weight". [6] 18th century encyclopedic French dictionaries record it in the form of two separate words, as "pied fort" (1774):

PIED FORT, terms of currency, this word is said of a coin of gold, silver, or other metal, that is thicker than ordinary currency... [17]

The modern form of "piedfort" appears in English by 1802 in a Sotheby's auction catalog, [18] by which time the term was already in wide use.

Misspelling

Impropriety of the piefort misspelling is attested to 1917, when the error had become common enough to warrant a mention in an early numismatic jargon dictionary:

Piefort, or more properly, Piedfort, means literally any coin struck on an unusually thick planchet as a trial piece or essay. [19]

The piefort misspelling appears in English as early as 1893, where the author and citing authors give false etymologies of the word relating to the weight (not thickness) of a coin, the depiction of human legs on a coin, and a corruption of the name of the Belgian city of Liège ("Luik" in Dutch) as "Leg". [20]

The influential Krause and Mishler Standard Catalog of World Coins has used both piedfort and piefort interchangeably for at least the prior 3 decades, as of 2012.

The piefort misspelling has crept back into the French language as piéfort. [11] [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

Numismatics Study of currencies, coins and paper money

Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, medals and related objects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peso</span> Name of several monetary units

The peso is the monetary unit of several countries in the Americas, and the Philippines. Originating in Spain, the word peso translates to "weight". In most countries the peso uses the same sign, "$", as many currencies named "dollar". The sign "₱" in used in the Philippines.

Ancient Greek coinage Greek coins from the Archaic to Roman Imperial periods

The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided into four periods: the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world during the 7th century BC until the Persian Wars in about 480 BC. The Classical period then began, and lasted until the conquests of Alexander the Great in about 330 BC, which began the Hellenistic period, extending until the Roman absorption of the Greek world in the 1st century BC. The Greek cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule. The coins produced during this period are called Roman provincial coins or Greek Imperial Coins.

Two-cent piece (United States) Coin of the United States (1864–1873)

The two-cent piece was produced by the Mint of the United States for circulation from 1864 to 1872 and for collectors in 1873. Designed by James B. Longacre, there were decreasing mintages each year, as other minor coins such as the nickel proved more popular. It was abolished by the Mint Act of 1873.

Three-cent piece

The United States three cent piece was a unit of currency equaling 3100 of a United States dollar. The mint produced two different three-cent coins for circulation: the three-cent silver and the three-cent nickel. Additionally, a three-cent bronze coin was made as a pattern in 1863. During the period from 1865 to 1873, both coins were minted, albeit in very small quantities for the silver three-cent piece.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eisenhower dollar</span> United States dollar coin

The Eisenhower dollar was a one-dollar coin issued by the United States Mint from 1971 to 1978; it was the first coin of that denomination issued by the Mint since the Peace dollar series ended in 1935. The coin depicts President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the obverse, and on the reverse a stylized image honoring the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon mission based on the mission patch designed by astronaut Michael Collins. Both sides were designed by Frank Gasparro. It is the only large-size U.S. dollar coin whose circulation strikes contained no silver.

Charles E. Barber American engraver

Charles Edward Barber was an American coin engraver who served as the sixth chief engraver of the United States Mint from 1879 until his death in 1917. He had a long and fruitful career in coinage, designing most of the coins produced at the mint during his time as chief engraver. He did full coin designs, and he designed about 30 medals in his lifetime. The Barber coinage were named after him. In addition, Barber designed a number of commemorative coins, some in partnership with assistant engraver George T. Morgan. For the popular Columbian half dollar, and the Panama-Pacific half dollar and quarter eagle, Barber designed the obverse and Morgan the reverse. Barber also designed the 1883 coins for the Kingdom of Hawaii, and also Cuban coinage of 1915. Barber's design on the Cuba 5 centavo coin remained in use until 1961.

Twenty-cent piece (United States coin) Coin of the United States (1875–1878)

The American twenty-cent piece is a coin struck from 1875 to 1878, but only for collectors in the final two years. Proposed by Nevada Senator John P. Jones, it proved a failure due to confusion with the quarter, to which it was close in both size and value.

Pattern coin Sample coin to demonstrate the design of a coin

A pattern coin is a coin which has not been approved for release, but produced to evaluate a proposed coin design. They are often off-metal strike, to proof standard or piedforts. Many coin collectors collect and study pattern coins because of their historical importance. Many of the world's most valuable coins are pattern coins; nearly 25 of the pieces listed in 100 Greatest US Coins are pattern coins.

Glossary of numismatics

This glossary of numismatics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to numismatics and coin collecting, as well as sub-fields and related disciplines, with concise explanations for the beginner or professional.

Silver center cent American bimetallic pattern coin

The Silver center cent is an American pattern coin produced by the United States Mint in 1792. As a precursor to the large cent it was one of the first coins of the United States and an early example of a bimetallic coin. Only 12 original examples are known to exist, of which one is located in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Two more specimens exist but contain fabricated plugs added after minting.

Three-dollar piece US three-dollar coin (1854–1889)

The three-dollar piece was a gold coin produced by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1854 to 1889. Authorized by the Act of February 21, 1853, the coin was designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre. The obverse bears a representation of Lady Liberty wearing a headdress of a Native American princess and the reverse a wreath of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the English penny (c. 600 – 1066)</span> Coin in Anglo-Saxon England

The history of the English penny can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the 7th century: to the small, thick silver coins known to contemporaries as pæningas or denarii, though now often referred to as sceattas by numismatists. Broader, thinner pennies inscribed with the name of the king were introduced to Southern England in the middle of the 8th century. Coins of this format remained the foundation of the English currency until the 14th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Penny (British pre-decimal coin)</span> Former denomination of sterling coinage

The British pre-decimal penny was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/240 of one pound or 1/12 of one shilling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius. It was a continuation of the earlier English penny, and in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was originally minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, and then after 1860 in bronze.

United States Assay Commission Agency of the US government (1792–1980)

The United States Assay Commission was an agency of the United States government from 1792 to 1980. Its function was to supervise the annual testing of the gold, silver, and base metal coins produced by the United States Mint to ensure that they met specifications. Although some members were designated by statute, for the most part the commission, which was freshly appointed each year, consisted of prominent Americans, including numismatists. Appointment to the Assay Commission was eagerly sought after, in part because commissioners received a commemorative medal. These medals, different each year, are extremely rare, with the exception of the 1977 issue, which was sold to the general public.

California Diamond Jubilee half dollar United States commemorative silver fifty-cent piece

The California Diamond Jubilee half dollar was a United States commemorative silver fifty-cent piece struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1925. It was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of California statehood.

The 10 sen coin (十銭硬貨) was a Japanese coin worth one tenth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. These coins were minted from the late 19th century up until the end of World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Double sovereign</span> British gold coin

The double sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of two pounds sterling (£2) or forty shillings.

Vault protector coin

Vault Protector coins were a type of Chinese numismatic charm coins created by Chinese mints. These coins were significantly larger, heavier and thicker than regular cash coins and were well-made as they were designed to occupy a special place within the treasury of the mint. The treasury had a spirit hall for offerings to the gods of the Chinese pantheon, and Vault Protector coins would be hung with red silk and tassels for the Chinese God of Wealth. These coins were believed to have charm-like magical powers that would protect the vault while bringing wealth and fortune to the treasury.

The 2 sen coin (二銭硬貨) was a Japanese coin worth one-fiftieth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. Two sen coins were minted during the Meiji period, and are made from nearly pure copper. Priority was initially given to silver coins when the new yen currency system was adopted in 1871 as copper coins could not be produced yet. Aside from a design change and a two year lapse, two sen coins were made from 1873 to 1884. The two sen coin was then discontinued and eventually demonetized in the mid-20th century. These coins are now sought after as collectors items which bring premium amounts depending on the date and condition.

References

  1. 1 2 Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. Oxford Living Dictionaries
  3. Collins Dictionary
  4. Random House Dictionary
  5. Trésor de la langue française informatisé
  6. 1 2 Hanisco, Ray, Piedfort, BellaOnline
  7. 1 2 3 "The Piedfort Coin - A Rare Collector's Item". The Royal Mint.
  8. France: coinage survey
  9. "Brass reckoning counter, Rechenmeister type". British Museum.
  10. Jettons at mernick.org.uk
  11. 1 2 Piéfort - Piedfort - Pieds-Forts - Essais
  12. Simon Fournival (1672). Recueil général des titres: concernant les fonctions rangs ... des présidens, trésoriers de France.
  13. "2009 Countdown to London £5 Silver Piedfort Proof Coin". World Mint Coins.
  14. CCT720: 1988 to 1999 1 oz silver lunar proof piedfort 12 coin set
  15. "pied", Collins French Dictionary
  16. "fort", Collins French Dictionary
  17. M. De Felice (1774). Encyclopedie ou dictionnaire universel raisonne des connoissances humaines mis en ordre. Vol. 33. Fortuné Barthélemy de Félice, Denis Diderot.
  18. A Catalogue of the very valuable and extensive collection of ancient and modern coins and medals of the late Samuel Tyssen, Esq. F.A.S. Sotheby's. 1802.
  19. Albert Romer Frey (1917). A Dictionary of Numismatic Names: Their Official and Popular Designations. American Numismatic Society.
    - "Piedforts". CoinLibrary. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  20. William Carew Hazlitt (1893). The Coinage of the European Continent: With an Introduction and Catalogues of Mints Denominations and Rulers. Vol. 1.
    - A W Cornelius Hallen, ed. (1894). The Account Book of John Foulis of Ravelston. Publications of the Scottish History Society. Vol. 16. Edinburgh: Scottish History Society. p. xxxiii.
  21. Vème République, 50 Francs Hercule, Piéfort