Gold Twenty-Shilling Piece of Elizabeth I,

Gallery 37,
Heberden Coin Room,
first floor

Related Objects in the Ashmolean Museum


1. Tudor Coinage
Heberden Coin Room, Gallery 37, First Floor

Unlike the stylized coin portraits of England’s medieval kings, Tudor coinage usually provides a genuine likeness of the ruler. Look at the coin portraits of some of the other Tudor monarchs in the same case as the Object of the Month. Those of Edward VI (1547-53) show a particularly varied selection of portraits of the boy king despite his short reign. See also coin no. 1: an example of the first English sovereign from the reign of King Henry VII (1485-1509). This coin was introduced as a symbol of the power and prestige of the new king and may have been inspired by similar coins of Enrique IV of Spain and Maximilian, King of the Roman Empire.

2. Great Seal
Medieval Gallery, Gallery 2, Ground Floor

Seals, such as the great seal displayed here, were used for authenticating documents and featured portraits of the relevant monarch. This one was designed by Nicholas Hilliard and shows Elizabeth I on an elaborately harnessed horse. She wears a fashionable coif beneath her crown and her formal dress is set off with a stiff ruff collar. You can also see the Tudor rose and emblems of France and Ireland.


3. Stomacher
Tradescant Room, Gallery 27, First Floor

Fashions of the Elizabethan Age were characterised by elaborate dress such as the large stiff ruff collars shown frequently in portraits of the Elizabeth I. Women went to great lengths to look beautiful and fashions often became so extreme as to require mechanical aids to mould the figure into shape. This embroidered stomacher (which is perhaps of seventeenth-century date) would have formed the front part of a dress. It would have been tied tightly around the back of the body with tapes and made rigid with whalebone strips.