Over the years Metal Detectorists have found thousands of hammered coins going back to Saxon times. For those who are not familiar with the term 'hammered' these were coins made with a hammer and die - by hand. The vast majority of these are silver although some gold hammereds have been found. I have only ever found one gold hammered coin in over 25 years detecting at a low ratio to my silver coins.
Gold coins are known to have been struck by certain of the English Kings, previous to the Norman conquest; but it does not appear that there was any regular currency of gold in those days. Until the commencement of the 18th Century it was the generally received opinion that Edward 111 was the first English monarch who coined gold money in this country. About 1730 however attention was drawn to a passage in a manuscript chronicle in the city of London which states that in 1257, this king coined a penny of fine gold, of the weight of two sterlings(silver pennies of that time), and ordered that it should pass at twenty pence.
These coins nevertheless, do not seem to have been popular, as Carte in his history of England, says that the citizens of London made a representation against them on the 24th Nov., in the same year, and that 'the King was so willing to oblige them, that he published a proclamation, declaring that nobody was obliged to take it (the gold penny), and whoever did, might bring it to his exchange, and receive there the value at which it had been made current, an halfpenny on being deducted, probably for the coinage'.
By the proclamation of his 54th year, quoted by Snelling, the value of this coin was raised from 20 pence to 24 pence, or two shillings.
These gold coins are extremely rare, three or four specimens only being known. One of the two coins in the British Museum was purchased for Â£41. 10s. Another sold at Captain Marchison's sale in June 1864.
Obv. The king crowned, seated on his throne in royal robes, and holding in his right hand a sceptre, and in his left the orb HENRIC'.REX 111.
Rev. A long double cross, or cross voided, extending nearly to the edge of the coin; with a rose surrounded by three pellets in each angle. WILLEM.ON LVND.,LVNDE, LVNDEN The workmanship is much superior to that of the silver coins of the same period (See Fig.1)
Weight 45 1/5 grains
Fineness Pure or fine gold without alloy
Between the issue of this gold penny in 1257, and the first issue of Edward 111. in 1344, an interval of nearly 90 years, no coinage of gold is known to have taken place.
Camden conjectures that ignorance was the cause which so long prevented our monarchs from coining gold bur Ruding says that 'the true reason seems to be, that coins of gold were not wanted, when the price of the necessary articles of life was completely within the reach of an inferior metal. And in confirmation of this it may be observed, that the gold money which was struck in the early part of Edward 111's reign is nearly as fresh as it was on its first issuing from the mint; from whence we may reasonably infer that its circulation was extremely limited'.
I have asked the Museum of London to provide further information along with a photo, so I can show you the coin in all its glory. I await the reply.
Reply from museum:
There are seven surviving examples of the gold penny of Henry III to my knowledge. The British Museum has three of these and there is another in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge - the others are in private hands.
Note: A pricely sum was required to provide a phot. Shame really!!