Some of Jamestown’s gentlemen investors were financially involved in The Society of Mines Royal, who had a monopoly on copper mining in England. The trial plate includes two proposed designs for English coins that were never minted. It was part of Elizabeth I’s monetary scheme to introduce debased coinage while keeping valuable metals in England.
Miraculously, this voided trial plate escaped being melted down at the English mint for reuse. The fragment may have arrived with the stores of scrap copper from the English mint to assay with native sources of zinc to make brass or for trade with the Virginia Indians.