Gold florin of Edward III of England


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

By the 1340s England was in a position to join other western European lands in successfully adding a gold coinage to its money. Florentine and French gold coins were widely used. The English Parliament petitioned the monarch, Edward III (reigned 1327–77), for the innovation of gold coins to help with international trade. The new coins, ordered in an indenture of December 1343, consisted of a florin, or double leopard, of fine gold, exactly double the size of the Florentine florin, to be worth six shillings, along with its half and quarter.

Although the new coinage's standards were based on the florin, its designs followed French influence. The king is shown seated, holding orb and sceptre, with two heraldic English leopards beside him, and a Gothic canopy overhead, with a background of fleurs-de-lis. These, and the title 'king of France' included in the inscription, reflect Edward's claims to the French throne which underpinned the beginnings of the Hundred Years War (1339–1453).

The new coinage was not a success: it was over-valued – that is, its face value was higher than the value of the gold. Also, a coin worth six shillings did not fit well into the English monetary system, with 20 shillings in the pound, or 13s 4d in the mark. It was soon replaced by the noble, a coin worth 6s 8d which, being worth a third of a pound, and half a mark, was much more useful.


  • Title: Gold florin of Edward III of England
  • Date Created: 1344
  • Physical Dimensions: 6.940 g
  • Registration number: 1915,0507.5
  • Production place: England
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: © The Trustees of the British Museum
  • British Museum website: British Museum collection online

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