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Inverted anchor cross. A cross with slightly widened ends, with two anchor flukes coming out of the top and curving left and right, also with slightly widened ends.







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Crowned M between three lilies. Script: Latin Lettering: FRED. HENR. D. G. PRIN. AV. Translation: Frederic Henry, by the Grace of God, prince of Orange.

Liard of Frederik Henry, Prince of Orange, France 1625-47

A coin which isn’t what it first seems

Mystery Coin

Crowned M between three lilies.

Script: Latin

Lettering: FRED. HENR. D. G. PRIN. AV.

Translation: Frederic Henry, by the Grace of God, prince of Orange.

Each fortnight, I include a photo of a coin in the newsletter, and ask people to guess what it is. When I shared this coin, I expected it would stump people, but it was ok, because I did in fact know what it was.

Only, I was wrong.

Screenshot from Numista showing the obverse and reverse of the Liard of Mary of Dombes:

Obverse
M crowned between three lilies placed 2 and 1.

Script: Latin

Lettering: + M. P. DOMBAR. D. MONTISP ♡

Unabridged legend: Maria Princeps Dombarum Ducissa Montispenserii

Translation: Mary, princess of Dombes, duchess of Montpensier.

Reverse
Cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit.

Script: Latin

Lettering: + DNS. ADIVTOR. MEVS. 1621.

Unabridged legend: Dominus Adjutor Meus

Translation: The lord is my support.

Attributed as a Liard of Mary of Dombes 1609-1628, it seemed to fit the bill, and aside from the M, there’s no writing left to contradict it.

One of my eagle-eyed followers pointed me to this conversation on Numista. As in the conversation, the lilies around the M on my coin DO look more like swords than they should on the Dombes coin. Which matches the slightly later Liard of Frederic Henry of Orange (further south, still in France).

Numista lists this piece as silver, although several other Liards issued at the same time as Billon. There is also a slightly earlier issue of Maurice of Nassau. To me, the crown looks slightly different, although it is hard to tell). French dealer cgbfr.com has listed a similar coin as copper, and this one, and this one.

Based on all that, my hypothesis is that Maurice was the one to borrow Mary’s design, repurposing the M for his own first name. When Frederic Henry first became Prince, I wonder if some of the early coins kept the main M and just changed the wording around the edge, with later Liards moving to a crowned H design. How’s that for a theory? (I should reiterate again, I have nothing but my own speculation to base that on, please don’t base your thesis on it!)

Reverse

Notched cross with leaves in quarters. Script: Latin Lettering: SOLIS. DEO. HONOR. ET. G. Translation: Only to god, honor and glory.

The reverse of the coin features a design which Numista variously describes as:

Looking closer at the description of Mary’s coin (which is believed to be the original design out of these in any case), the Order of the Holy Spirit is a French order of chivalry founded by Henry III of France in 1578. Today, it is a dynastic order under the House of France. Their symbol is a Maltese cross, with fleur-de-lis in the quarters, and a dove in the center. Not quite identical, but the coin being based on the design is believable (I haven’t found any documentation linking Mary with the order yet, if I do, I’ll link to it here).

So, an interesting little coin which tricked me as much as anyone else!

Update: A Dombes Liard

M crowned between three lilies placed 2 and 1.

Script: Latin

Lettering: + M. P. DOMBAR. D. MONTISP ♡

Unabridged legend: Maria Princeps Dombarum Ducissa Montispenserii

Translation: Mary, princess of Dombes, duchess of Montpensier.

Here is the coin I originally mistook the first piece for. The M this time IS for Mary, princess of Dombes, duchess of Montpensier. Issued in the Principality of Dombes, the lillies are different on this piece.

Cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit. Script: Latin Lettering: + DNS. ADIVTOR. MEVS. 1621. Unabridged legend: Dominus Adjutor Meus Translation: The lord is my support.

The reverse of the Dombes coin is very similar. Issued from 1609-1628, the year should be around the top-left edge, which unfortunately is missing from my example.

Crowned M between three lilies. Script: Latin Lettering: FRED. HENR. D. G. PRIN. AV. Translation: Frederic Henry, by the Grace of God, prince of Orange.

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