The 1490AD Henry VII Gold Angel – Coins That Belong to British History


The British currency has come a long way since it was first developed in 60-80AD. From simple pieces of metal hammered flat by hand to the ‘indestructible’ banknotes of today, the technique of making the currency has improved vastly in the last few centuries.


In this mini-series of four articles, we will look at coins from 900AD up to the 2022 Platinum Jubilee edition coins. Today’s focus will be on the Henry VII Gold Angel from the late 1400s to the early 1500s.


Henry VII was the first Tudor King and succeeded to the throne after defeating Richard III in battle. The Tudor period was the first period where the English throne was passed down from father to son/daughter or family member and continued to do so to the present day.


The only exceptions to this rule were Lady Jane Grey (who was loosely related as Henry VIII’s Protestant niece and ruled for 9 days until Mary, Henry VIII’s Catholic daughter, reclaimed the throne), and Oliver Cromwell who beheaded Charles I, ruled the country as a Puritan and disbanded the monarchy until the Great Restoration with Charles II (Charles I’s son).


This coin was made during a time when gold was scarce, so they were produced with little gold content until his son Henry VIII increased the amount of gold used by 10% during his reign. It would have been hammered into the correct shape, width, and size before the pattern was engraved/branded at the Royal Mint.


Mintmarks were invented/started to be used during Henry VII’s reign, so these are one of the first-ever coins to carry one. The design on the front of the coin has an angel standing on dragons and the reverse features a ship at sea with the royal shield on the mast. There is also the iconic Tudor rose on one side of the mast and an ‘H’ on the other.


The coin was worth roughly 6s8d or six shillings and eightpence (38p in today’s currency, though with inflation it is actually around £200!). Nowadays, such coins are worth anywhere between £1000-£3000, depending on their condition, age, and the rarity of them.


Next time, we will look at the Gold Third Guinea from the Georgian/Regency era. 

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