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A piedfort (UK: /piˈeɪfɔːrt, ˈpiːɛdˌfɔːrt/,US: /piˌeɪˈfɔːr, piˈeɪfɔːr/; French: pied-fortor piéfort [pjefɔʁ]) is an unusually thick coin, often exactly twice the normal weight and thickness of other coins of the same diameter and pattern. Piedforts are not normally circulated, and are only struck for presentation purposes by mint officials (such as patterns), or for collectors, dignitaries, and other VIPs.Piedfort is commonly misspelled as "piefort".
Piedfort coins were first recorded in Franceand Great Britain during the Middle Ages, with the first French piedforts appearing in the 12th century. The reason the coins were minted in piedfort form was probably to prevent them from being lost among normal circulating coins. Theories for the original purpose of the earliest piedfort coins are:
Later, the higher rarity of piedfort versions of a nation's coinage led to them being used as prestigious diplomatic gifts to kings, nobility, dignitaries, and other VIP's. Note that coin collecting has traditionally been called "the hobby of kings". The demand for piedforts from politically influential coin collectors resulted in such routine production that a droit de pied fort, or "right of piedfort", was instituted as a formal code of rules defining who was entitled to a piedfort version of a new coin design. Edicts of such rules date back to at least 1355 in France.
The first British piedforts were silver penniesminted during the reign of Edward I (1239 to 1307). Britain stopped routinely minting piedforts in 1588, but France continued to mint them for at least another 150 years before also ceasing production. The routine production of piedforts began again in France in 1890, and Britain began to produce piedforts available to the public for the first time in 1982. Since then, Great Britain's Royal Mint has become well known for creating many commemorative piedfort coins. China produced piedforts for collectors in 1988.
Piedfort £1 one pound coin