Noble Coin Usage

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jaa101
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Noble Coin Usage

Postby jaa101 » Sat Jul 11, 2015 1:54 pm

History question: C.S. Forester has Hornblower receive in the post multiple sums of six and eight-pence and three and four-pence, apparently as tokens of esteem or as rewards for his exploits [Flying Colours, chap. 17]. I can discover that 6/8, a third of a pound or 80 pence, was once a gold coin called a Noble but these would have been very rare and valuable by this time (1811). The sum was also a common fee for a lawyer and possibly for other professional services and fines.

Is there any record of a custom of giving 6/8 or 3/4 in this context? Any clues or citations would be welcome.



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davetmoneyer
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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby davetmoneyer » Sat Jul 11, 2015 5:15 pm

Hi the Noble (6/8d) as a coin ceased usage in 1464 then it was replaced by the Angel (6/8d) and the Rose Ryal (10/-) the angel was minted up to 1644 with varying values from 6/8d up to 11/- as the gold values changed. The gold coins of 1811 were the Guinea (21/-), half Guinea (10/6d) third guinea (7/-) the silver coins were the crown (5/-) halfcrown shilling sixpence and threepence. Recoinages had been undertaken in 1464 throughout the Tudor reigns and in so there would be NO Nobles or their fractioins in circulation. So unless Horntooter was collecting medieval coins
in the post then the reference is horsefeathers,


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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby SteveC » Sat Jul 11, 2015 5:31 pm

I have been told, but a long time ago and without a source, that the 'mark Easterling' [1] was valued at 13/4. So the idea of giving some one a third or two-thirds of a pound might have come from that. But I would also have assumed this would have been late middle ages or early modern and not the Hornblower era.
davetmoneyer, can you confirm or deny this?

Note 1: same chap also said that this is where the word Sterling as in the currency came from. Baltic silver being of a sufficient standard that people would accept it as being of high quality.



jaa101
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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby jaa101 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:44 am

davetmoneyer wrote:[...] so there would be NO Nobles or their fractioins in circulation. So unless Horntooter was collecting medieval coins
in the post then the reference is horsefeathers,

Sorry if I wasn't clear. For the reasons you correctly point out, I'm fairly sure that people were sending him six and eight-pence using contemporary coinage and not gold Nobles. But why this amount? It's believable that there was some tradition, now forgotten, to give that amount to people for certain reasons. There is plenty of documentation stating that this was the standard fee for a lawyer's services at this time but that's clearly not applicable to Hornblower's circumstances, receiving acclaim as minor new national hero.

I'm looking for confirmation of any such tradition, ideally in some written record, but it's by no means a straightforward piece of historical research. Forester died less than fifty years ago but is seems this has been long enough for memory of an old tradition to be lost.



jaa101
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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby jaa101 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 4:03 am

SteveC wrote:So the idea of giving some one a third or two-thirds of a pound might have come from that.

It seems clear that the division of the pound rigidly into shillings and pence is relatively modern practice. In older times the use of farthings (quarter pennies), groats (four pence), crowns (quarter pound), nobles/angels (third pound) was much more common.

It doesn't take too long to come up with a list of coins and their dates of minting and circulation but records of related customs, such as traditional uses of amounts like 6/8 and 3/4 (ten groats) turns out to be much harder to find. All I can discover is that both were considered the standard fee for a lawyer's services at different times.



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davetmoneyer
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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby davetmoneyer » Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:47 am

SteveC wrote:I have been told, but a long time ago and without a source, that the 'mark Easterling' [1] was valued at 13/4. So the idea of giving some one a third or two-thirds of a pound might have come from that. But I would also have assumed this would have been late middle ages or early modern and not the Hornblower era.
davetmoneyer, can you confirm or deny this?

Note 1: same chap also said that this is where the word Sterling as in the currency came from. Baltic silver being of a sufficient standard that people would accept it as being of high quality.

Hi 13/8d was certainly known as a Mark for accounting purposes ( but was never a coin in this country) Derivation of the term sterling is very unclear, suggestions that it might derive from the word Esterling ( a series of imitative European pennies issued in the late 13th century ) was rejected back in the early 2000s ( reference the Sterling exhibition by the Royal Mint and held at the Bank Of England ) in favour of the new standard of silver coin 92.5% issued in 1279 which was known as Sterling Silver as opposed to the Fine silver 95% used for earlier issues.


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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby SteveC » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:15 am

Thanks for that, Dave. My information was from the 1980s, so not surprising things have moved on since then.



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Jack Campin
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Re: Noble Coin Usage

Postby Jack Campin » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:27 am

I used to see prices of 6/8d and 13/4d in pre-decimalization New Zealand in the 60s. Guineas as well. The old units survived just fine despite there being no actual coins at those values.




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