Paperweight with George III (1760-1820) guinea, 1788.

This Georgian coin is sealed within a glass paperweight which produces a magnifying effect.

The obverse bears the laureate bust of King George III. A crowned shield of arms is at design on the reverse.

The obverse inscription reads the Latin words: ' GEORGE III DEI GRATIA', which translate as: 'George III by the Grace of God King'. The reverse quotes: ' M.B.F.ET.H.REX.F.D.B.ET.L.D.S.R.I.A.T.ET.E', followed by the date, 1788. This inscription stands for 'King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Arch-Treasurer and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.'

One of a group of nine in HES collection, this gold coin takes its name after the region of West Africa where much of the gold for these coins originally came from. It should be noted that the gold guinea was originally minted during the reign of King Charles II, in 1633. This type of guinea was struck between 1787 and 1798 in 22 carat yellow gold. It offers an example of the most famous version of these coins, that is to say the 'spade' or 'spade ace', showing a spade shaped shield on their reverse instead of the garnished shield used in previous issues. During the reign of George III, guineas were issued from 1761 to 1813, however, in 1799 their minting was halted because the French Revolutionary Wars had drained gold reserves. The last guinea, also known as 'military guinea' as it was largely struck to pay for the expenses of war, was issued in 1813.

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
34 x 45mm
Time Period
Property Information
Trinity House
Object Number
Access Status