Continental copy of a Henry IV quarter noble

This gold quarter noble was found some years back by Jim Crombie. At first sight it looks perfectly okay but when examined closely it displays a number of anomalies.

On the obverse the arms in the first quarter of the shield are the old type, with four rather than three fleur de lis. The start of the legend reads +hEnRICVS, which points towards it being struck for a King Henry.

Anomalies

On the reverse the start of the legend isn’t exactly in line with the cross in the centre. Additionally, the lettering is somewhat irregular. The standard of production of the dies is reasonably good but a number of things are wrong. Firstly, on quarter nobles of Henry IV, V and VI the king’s name is always rendered as hEnRIC. Secondly, all the quarter nobles struck for these three kings have additional distinguishing marks below, beside or above the shield on the obverse. This coin has none whatsoever. Thirdly, on the reverse the orientation of the legend and the central imagery is not in line.

Continental Imitation

So, for whom was the quarter noble struck? And, could it be a previously unrecorded variety? I can’t answer the first question but the answer to the second is: probably. However, rather than being an official issue, this quarter noble will be a Continental imitation. The date of striking is uncertain but I’d suggest it was early in the reign of Henry IV. The absence of extra marks on the obverse and having a Latinised version of the king’s name point towards it being copied from a coin of Edward III.

Continental imitations of gold nobles are known for the reigns of Richard II to Henry VI but are very rare. I’ve only heard of one imitation quarter noble and that was of a coin of Henry IV but from different dies to Jim’s coin.

Circulated as genuine

I have no doubt that this coin circulated as genuine and no-one would have realised it wasn’t a true English issue. The size looks correct but the gold content will be less than in a genuine quarter noble. It displays some but not much circulation wear but, sadly, it is bent and this reduces its eye appeal. It’s a great rarity and would have some value, though less than if it was an official issue of Henry IV, V or VI.

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