Piedfort Coin, what does it mean?
If you are a fan of coin collecting you may have come across coins described as Piedfort Coins. See Piedfort coins for sale.
The Piedfort Coin dates back to the Middle Ages and refers to a coin struck double thickness of the regular coin. The diameter will be the same and it will have been stuck with the same mint dies as the standard coin.
They originated in France (hence the French name) and were issued as sample coins to demonstrate new coin designs.
Britain stopped producing Piedforts way back in the sixteenth century, the last example being a sixpence struck in 1588.
Simply put, a double-thickness coin; made to proof quality for coin collectors.
These special coins were given the name ‘Piedfort’ meaning ‘heavy measure’ (literally “Heavy Foot” in French). You may also find these coins referred to as the ‘Piefort’ coin, this is a misspelling.
Another error is in the thinking that this term relates to the weight (not thickness) of a coin. Although of course, a double-thickness coin is also double the weight!
You may hear many different ways to pronounce the term “Piedfort”, especially different between British English and American English.
The most common is pee-ay-fore – as is typical in the French language, the “T” at the end is silent.
The Oxford English Dictionary version is pjeɪfɔːt, see their page for an audio clip to listen to.
Coins fit for a King!
Piedfort Coins were minted as Royal prestige pieces from the mid-16th to the mid-17th century, where Kings and Queens began the tradition of giving ‘prestige pieces’ to members of their court.
Some Kings and noblemen had these extra thick coins struck, either to display or to give as gifts. This was a way of showing wealth and power during these times.
In England, the gold Double-Sovereigns of Henry VI were one spectacular example!
Source: The Royal Mint Museum
Royal Mint Coins
The Royal Mint made the first Piedfort version of a UK coin available to the public in 1982.
These coins are Silver Proof, Gold Proof or Platinum Proof quality and produced in extremely limited mintage quantities, making them very attractive to UK Coin Collectors and Numismatists around the world.
Some Piedfort Coins hold the fastest sales records on the mint shop website, with some (such as the 2017 Gold Sovereign) totally selling out on the first day of issue.
Normally, they are struck as commemorative coins to mark the anniversary of a special event or to celebrate a brand new design. Their rarity value coupled with the mint craftsmanship required to produce them, means that these high quality, double-thickness coins will be appreciated and collected for generations to come!
They are available in denominations of 20p, 50p, £1, £2 and £5 coins.
Many are also sent to coin grading companies such as NGC or PCGS to be locked into protective storage capsules.
Piedfort Coins For Sale
Our Piedfort Coins For Sale page shows double-thickness coins available to buy direct from the UK mint.
You will also find them in the resale market on the Numismatic sections of eBay. Take care to check the coins before committing to purchase.
See our Piedfort Coins eBay page for current opportunities to buy a Piedfort coin and a buyer’s checklist.
On 26th June 2017, The Royal Mint announced the first ever Piedfort Sovereign Gold Proof Coin.
The 2017 Piedfort edition of The Sovereign had a mintage of just 3,500 coins, struck in twice the thickness of 22 carat gold as The Sovereign and finished to Proof standard.
The 2017 edition sold out within 24 hours!
In addition to The Royal Mint in the UK, other mints known to produce these double-thick coins include;
- The Royal Canadian Mint
- Perth Mint, Australia
- Pobjoy Mint, UK
- Europe’s largest privately owned mint, Pobjoy Mint is based in the English county of Surrey. Produces many British territories coins
Certificate of Authenticity
Due to only being made available direct from the mint and in proof quality, most Piedfort coins will come with a Certificate Of Authenticity (COA).
This document not only confirms the coin as genuine, but will also give you interesting facts, most especially the number of coins minted in total and in the particular Limited Edition Presentation (LEP).
If you are buying Piedforts, we recommend that you always look for inclusion of the COA as part of your purchase decision.
Piedfort coins are also issued as Silver Proof Sets or Piedfort Collection sets.
Typically, these are in presentation boxes with 3 to 6 coins in the set of the same or mixed denominations.
For instance there may be a 20p, 50p and £1 coin in the set, with at least one of these being a Commemorative Coin.
As an example, the Great Britain 2003 Mint Box Set of 3 Piedfort Silver Coins. This includes a one pound coin, Commemorative two pounds Double-Helix coin and Suffragette 50 pence coin.
The Piedfort Coin – A Rare Collector’s Item
Twice the Weight, Double the Thickness
As their name suggests, Piedforts are closely associated with France where they can be traced back to the twelfth century. In England the striking of such pieces began later and was less frequent but medieval examples are known, notably the thick silver pennies of Edward I. Minting was not a centralised activity in England in the Middle Ages, coins being struck in other locations as well as London. It therefore seems likely that Piedforts were distributed to engravers at these different mints in order to show them what to copy. Making the pieces deliberately thick and heavy ensured they were not mixed unintentionally with ordinary coins. However, the striking of Piedforts ceased in Britain in the sixteenth century – a sixpence of 1588 being the last known specimen – but the tradition survived in France for at least another 150 years.
The name ‘Piedfort’ (Pee-ay-fore) comes from the French word meaning ‘heavy measure’.
Royal Prestige Pieces
Thicker than normal coins were produced across Europe during the early modern period, particularly from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, as part of the broader practice of striking prestige pieces.
At this time the exchange of valuable gifts between rulers and members of their entourage became an established courtly exercise. Within this context coins struck on thick blanks, together with other types of prestige pieces, were prepared on behalf of kings and noblemen primarily for the purposes of presentation and display. From Poland to the Spanish Netherlands, from Sweden to northern Italy, coins of this sort provided rulers with a convenient means of emphasising their wealth and power. There are, however, only a limited number of these unusually thick prestige pieces from England, most spectacularly the gold double-sovereigns of Henry VII which bore the same design as the sovereign.
The First UK Piedfort Available to the Public
After the decline of the European tradition of the prestige piece in the eighteenth century, the striking of modern Piedforts on a regular basis began at the Monnaie de Paris in the 1890s, partly in answer to demands from collectors. It was not until the introduction of the 20p in 1982, however, that the Royal Mint made a Piedfort version of a UK coin available to the public.
Since 1982 the Royal Mint has continued to strike extremely limited numbers of Piedforts in sterling silver to premier Proof standard to commemorate special anniversaries or to celebrate a brand new design. The rarity and craftsmanship involved in producing these superior double-thickness coins will ensure that they are appreciated and treasured for generations to come.
PIEDFORT scores 14 points in Scrabble!