Noble (coin)

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The noble was a gold coin in circulation from the reign of Edward III, around 1344-1346, and finally discontinued in the reign of Charles I. Half-nobles and quarter-nobles were also minted, the quarter-noble also known as a gold farthing, or farthing of gold. The noble is usually reckoned at the value of 6/8 (six shillings and eightpence - one third of the pre-decimal pound of 240 pennies), but for historical accuracy it must be realized that even the nominal value varied. OED quotes "some of the older statements as to the value of the noble at different periods:

1387 A duket [i.e. ducat], þat is worþy half an Englisshe noble.

1425 [The] floreyn þat was clept [called] þe 'noble', of value of vjs. and viijd (6 shillings and eight pence.

1469 On[e] pece therof rennyng for xs. [ten shillings] of sterlings, which shalbe called the noble of gold.

1542 An olde Noble, called an Henrye, is worthe 2 Crownes,..that is 10 s.

1542 A Noble, called a George, is worth 6 s. 8 d.

1599 I doe put onely 7. Nobles rent and composition.., that is 40. shil: for composition [i.e. 6 nobles, of a third of a pound, = £2:0:0], and 6. shil: 8. pence for Cheiferie [~ rent] to her Majestie.

1685 Fifty two French crowns, and a half a crown is 6s. 8d., our Noble.

1706 A Noble is also a Scotch Coin worth 6¼d. English, and of which three make a Pound."

These quotations illustrate also the various names under which the noble went. These were based on the distinctive patterns of the coins struck at different times, and in different reigns.

  • The angel (originally angel-noble) bore a picture of the archangel Michael killing the dragon. (This was an imitation of a French coin, the angelot.) There was also a half-angel. The full angel was changed in value from its original 6/8 through time: in 1526 during the reign of Henry VIII, it increased to seven shillings and six pence (7s/6d) or 90 pence, and again in 1544 , it increased again to eight shillings (8s) or 96 pence; in 1550 during the reign of (Edward VI it increased to ten shillings (10s) or 120 pence. In 1612 during the reign of James I of England (see also James VI and I) it increased to eleven shillings (11s) or 132 pence, and in 1619 it decreased to ten shillings (10s). (This information is drawn from wikipedia.)
  • The Harry (or Henry) noble was struck in the reign of Henry VI
  • The George, or George-noble, was first struck around 1470, with a figure of Saint George
  • The lion noble was a Scots coin, current till the reign of James VI
  • The mail noble was a half-noble minted in the reign of Edward III. It was named from OED's (obsolete) mail, n.4, 'a small coin'./
  • The rose noble was current in the 15th and 16th centuries. It had the image of a rose. It varied in value at different times and places; in 1494, there is a record of "A fardyn [farthing]of a ros nobyll, price 3s. 4½d", which equates to a full value of 12/6. (It also gave a nickname to an ingenious and well-educated criminal in the novels of Dornford Yates: a man with the surname Noble who bore the nickname 'Rose'. Yates always printed this in apostrophes, as "'Rose' Noble".)
  • The thistle noble was a Scottish half-merk from the reign of James VI with a thistle on the reverse.