The sixpence is iconic in British culture, forming the basis of many traditions. This example was issued in 1953, the coronation year of Elizabeth II (1952–).

On the heads side is a bust of Queen Elizabeth II, facing right. The style is known as a ‘laureate head’, as a laurel wreath crowns the figure. The legend translates as ‘Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of all the Britains’. This is written: ‘ELIZABETH II DEI GRA BRITT OMN REGINA’.

Roses, thistles, shamrocks and leeks form the shape of a cross on the reverse. The motto ‘Defender of the Faith’ is indicated by the letters: ‘FID DEF’. The coin’s value and date of issue are also shown: ‘SIX PENCE 1953’.

One tradition is to mix a sixpence into the Christmas pudding. It is said to bring wealth for the next year to the person who finds it. A bride’s father might place a sixpence in his daughter’s shoe as a good luck gesture – to bring prosperity, love and happiness in her marriage.

In the Second World War, RAF aircrew would sew a sixpence behind their flying badge or ‘wings’ for protection.

This sixpence is part of a collector’s set of pre-decimal coins issued in 1953.

Trinity House

Trinity House and its remarkable historic collections give amazing insights into Leith’s celebrated maritime past. The present building was the Port of Leith headquarters of the Incorporation of Mariners and Shipmasters for nearly 200 years.

This charity was set up to support the needs of injured and retired seamen and their families. Its origins can be traced back to 1380, when it was granted the right to levy a tax known as prime gilt on goods imported into Leith.

Thomas Brown designed the elegant Georgian building that now stands on the Kirkgate. It was built in 1816 on the site of a former Trinity House and hospital dating from before 1550.

Read more on the history of Trinity House [PDF, 8MB]

Maritime treasure house

The layout and historic furnishings of Trinity House still have many unique features that emphasise its former maritime function.

The War Memorial Window designed by W.J.R. Cook in 1933 honours local merchant sailors who died in the First World War. It was rededicated in 1945 for those killed in the Second World War.

The ground floor has a grand entrance and inner hall, with a unique collection of chairs commissioned by the Incorporation from the Edinburgh cabinetmaker William Trotter. Off the hall is the Master’s Room, a cosy space with a fine collection of paintings showing Leith as a busy commercial port in the 1700s and 1800s.

The highlight of Trinity House is the Convening Room on the upper floor, where the Incorporation held meetings around the long mahogany table. Maritime subjects feature in the ceiling’s ornate plaster friezes, and the table now displays a fascinating variety of objects to do with shipping, navigation and the whaling industry.

On display in the room are:

  • navigational instruments
  • wartime charts
  • whaling harpoons
  • rare objects such as narwhal tusks
  • ship models – ranging from early whaling ships to modern merchant ships

Hung on the walls are portraits of famous mariners and former Masters of the Incorporation – some by the great Edinburgh artist Sir Henry Raeburn. Vasco da Gama Encountering the Spirit of the Storm, a huge oil painting by the Scottish artist David Scott, is also on display.

The vaults below the building, which date from the 1500s, once housed a school for young mariners.

 

Find out more about Trinity House

Details

Date Made
1953
Dimensions
dia 19.2mm (dia 3/4")
Time Period
Modern
Property Information
Trinity House
Object Number
TRH873h

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