What are Piedfort coins?

Piedfort coins are well known to British silver coin collectors. Piedforts are struck with the same die so they look like normal coins with the same diameter but are TWICE as thick – and therefore twice the weight. Today, Piedforts are not usually made for circulation but solely for collectors and investors. There are many people who prefer to collect the Piedfort versions of the current coinage.

The word Piedfort is derived from the French meaning ‘heavy measure’ or ‘heavy foot’. As French it should be pronounced ‘Pee-ay-fore‘ but you’ll find most UK collectors and dealers pronouncing it phonetically. The word is often incorrectly spelled as Piefort, but as this misspelling has been in practice for over 100 years it has found to be acceptable.

History

The practice of making extra thickness coins is actually quite old, going back to the middle ages. Originally it was a French fashion that monarchs gave extra thick coins as gifts as a show of wealth, but in England we used them differently. At that time coins were minted at various locations around the country so when a new design was released the original engraver had to send out master samples (known as patterns) of the new coin to each of the regional mints. These patterns were made extra thick so not as to be confused with the actual circulation coins. The last Piedfort made for this reason was the 1588 sixpence.

Thick coins have been seen in other countries, usually minted for prestige purposes. There were very few English examples until 1982 when the Royal Mint made a 20p coin for public availability. This must have proved a success as the Royal Mint has issued Piedfort coins regularly since then.

Piedfort coins generally copy the usual circulation coins – they use the same dies – but are usually silver proof. Gold and Platinum make rarer appearances. The coins therefore have an appeal to not only collectors but also to investors who appreciate the extra weight of precious metal.

** Get the 2017 Piedfort Gold Sovereign at 2017piedfortsovereign.com **


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