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English coin Twenty Pence

Note that this article does not refer to the currently circulating British Twenty Pence coin.

Until the reign of King Henry III (1216-1272), any need in England for coins worth more than one penny was met, at least partially, by the use of Byzantine or Arabic gold and silver coins which circulated among merchants and traders. However as commerce increased, so did the need for higher value coins. In 1257 Henry instructed his goldsmith, William of Gloucester, to produce a coinage of pure gold. The twenty pence coin was one of the issues introduced, with the obverse showing the king enthroned, with the legend HENRICUS REX III (King Henry III), while the reverse contained a long cross extending to the edge, with a flower in each quarter, and the moneyer's name in the legend, thus WILLEM ON LUND (William of London).

Unfortunately the issue was undervalued, so by 1265 the gold in the coin was worth twenty-four pennies rather than twenty, and it is thought that most of the coins were melted down for profit by individuals. Consequently this coinage was not a success, and gold coins would not be minted again in England until the reign of King Edward III.



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