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This year is the 500th anniversary of England’s capture of the city of Tournai


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This year is the 500th anniversary of England’s capture of the city of Tournai

The Earliest Dated English Coin was a Groat (4 d - a French gros) struck by Henry VIII in the then French city of Tournai (now Belgium) in 1513. This piece bears the date 1513 in Arabic numerals.


Henry VIII by the Grace of God King of France and England

CIVITAS TORNA CENSIS 1:5:1:3 and the centre of the coin h

Citi Tornai 1:5:1:3

The earliest Exceptionally Rare coin dated 1513. Struck in the name of an English monarch Henry 8. The Tournai Groat (gros or 4d) struck subsequent to the capture of the town in September 1513 from France. It remained under English control until October 1518 when Tournai was returned to France on the payment of 600’000 crowns. The earliest dated English coin was previously considered to be the 1547 (MDXLVII) dated pattern shillings of Edward VI

Hitherto the earliest dated English coin was thought to be the 1547 (MDXLVII) pattern shilling of Edward VI. The incomprehensible original is below




With Snelling some time prior to 1769

Benjamin Bartlett, collection sold Gerard 25/4/1787

Edward Hodsoll, collection bought by Tyssen in the late 1700s

Samuel Tyssen 3087, Sotheby 12/4/1802. Bought by Young £11/11/- for

Barrè Charles Roberts, collection purchased by the British Museum in 1810.

Sold/Exchanged by the BM after 1915, exact date unknown.

Dr.Carter acquired Baldwins 1950

Glendining 8/7/1970 lot 59 R.Philippi

SNC 5/1990 no.2521 £5’000-

Frank Brady bought Spinks, Sold Auction 290, Spink 209, 6/10/2011


Snelling states that there were only two known, one in the cabinet of the Duke of Devonshire and another formerly held by Mr. Benjamin Bartlett, with two others of a different, but similar type. Now it appears there are a total of 3 known examples with a shield surmounted by an imperial crown with the lis and lion on either side. On the reverse in the centre h with only one of the other type. These are in British Museum, Ch. Vander Elst not traced & the coin above Ex.Brady 2012. The style is similar to contemporary issues of French coin in appearance and therefore it was highly likely struck by dies produced by a local engraver and workers and struck in Tournai the captured town who has a long tradition in minting


Thanks are due to the following people in assisting with this article. The lead writer R. Pearce, with assistance from Barrie Cook (British Museum), Olivier Elsen (Jean Elsen & ses Fils s.a.), Emily Freeman (Rascoins), Marvin Lessen and Tim Webb-Ware.



1. T. Snelling, A View of the Coins struck by English Princes in France (London 1769)

2. Rev. R Ruding, Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and its Dependencies (London 1840)

British Museum, Description of the Anglo-Gallic Coins in the British Museum (London 1826)

3. M Hoc, Histoire monetaire de Tournai (Brussels 1970)

4. William Harshaw collection of William Boyne Papers, University of Toronto library (Accession number RB.MS.92.017)

5. Van der Elst, in an article called ‘ethnographic record’




1513 Henry 8.jpg

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