Henry VIII silver trial plate
The connection between a monarch and the appearance or nature of the coinage has waxed and waned over the centuries. Henry VIII, as well as being famous for influencing many aspects of national life, left his mark on the coinage by debasing it as a way of raising money. Silver in particular suffered, with the fineness being reduced markedly over the debasement period and, not only is the evidence to be seen in the coins, it is also there in the assayers’ trial plates that were made at the time
A trial plate is a way of testing the precious metal content of a coin. At less than 800 fine this one was made to a standard of silver well below the sterling fineness of 925 and shows the degree to which the arrangements for the debasement were formalised. The indented appearance of trial plates of the period makes them arresting-looking objects in their own right and as a series they represent a distinctive element in the history of the British coinage.