A paperweight that holds a shilling made in 1787, during the reign of George III (1760–1820). The Georgian coin is set in a plastered wooden case with a glass top and base.

George III is shown in armour, in the ‘laureate bust’ style – with laurel wreath upon the head. The legend here means: ‘George by the grace of God’. In Latin, it appears as: ‘GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA’.

Shields with emblems of royal claims form the shape of a cross on the reverse. The top shield shows three lions, for England (left), and a single lion, for Scotland (right). The Hanoverian arms are on the left shield. Three fleurs-de-lis, for France, adorn the right shield. A harp, for Ireland, is on the lower shield. Crowns dot the diagonals between shields.

Lettering on the reverse 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’. This is written: ‘M.B.F.ET.H.REX.F.D.B.ET.L.D.S.R.I.A.T.ET.E’.

Two different shilling designs were issued in George III’s reign – one pre-formation and the other post-formation of the United Kingdom. This coin is an example of a Georgian shilling from before the United Kingdom was formed. The later design bears a laureate bust of the king, with the crowned United Kingdom coat of arms on the reverse.

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
33.7 x 55.2mm
Property Information
Trinity House
Object Number
Access Status