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Decus et Tutamen - Inscription on British Coins

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 1 Mar 2019

Last Updated: 5 Nov 2020


This is a Latin inscription on British coins which translates to English as 'An Ornament and a Safeguard', referring the milling or lettering on the edge, and also the monarch.

Most of the inscriptions on British coins have traditionally been in Latin, and we are frequently asked what they mean, and also where they are found.

Decus et Tutamen

Decus et Tutamen first appeared on some of the earliest British milled (machine made) coins. It was intended to reassure users that the edge of the coins had not been clipped, but could also be taken to mean that the monarch depicted was also an ornament and a safeguard.

Inscription Decus et Tutamen
Language Latin
Translation An ornament and a safeguard
Where Used Early British Milled Coins 1662-
Where Used Edge of 1983 Pound British Design
Where Used Edge of 1987 Pound English Design
Where Used Edge of 1988 Pound Royal Arms Design
Where Used Inner Rim of 2021 Gold Britannia

Decus Et Tutamen on English Coins

Further Reading

You may wish to visit some of our other pages:

Photo Gallery of Current British Coins

Value of my Coin. What's it Worth?

British Coin Denominations. What's a Groat,? etc.

Common Names of British Coins. What's a Tanner?

Engravers and Sculptors of British Coins

George V Inscriptions

Do you have a query about coin inscription? Get in touch on 01253 343081 or live chat. 

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