George III (1760-1820) five shilling dollar coin, 1804.

The obverse of this coin bears the draped and laureate bust of the King. The engravers initials C. H. K., Conrad Heinrich Küchler, in raised letters are visible on the truncation beneath the neck. On the reverse Britannia is seated left, holding a branch and spear, with a beehive to the left. Britannia's left arm rests on a Union Flag decorated shield, with a cornucopia below, all within a garter. The engraver's initial K appears in the triangular space between the shield, cornucopia, and Britannia's dress. The garter is surmounted by a castellated crown of five circular stone turrets.

The inscription is at legend on both sides and also at garter on the reverse. The obverse reads 'GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA REX', which means 'George III by the Grace of God King'. The reverse legend quotes, 'BANK OF ENGLAND 1804', while the garter reads ' FIVE SHILLINGS'. Letterings are incuseincuse (impressed with a stamp) and legible at the edge where the Latin reads 'DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI XXX', which translates as:' a safeguard and an ornament', with 'XXX' representing the regnal year in Roman numerals. This phrase was intended to prevent people scraping valuable metal off the edge of the coin and may have been originally used in Virgil's epic poem Aeneid, written in the late 1st century BC.

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


Date Made
2.3 x 40.8mm
Time Period
Property Information
Trinity House
Object Number
Access Status