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The mystery inscription on a plaque at Gallops Architectural Salvage and Reclamation, which our letter writers say is in ‘the Bard’s Alphabet’.

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It is written in ‘Coelbren y Beirdd’ (‘the Bard’s Alphabet’), widely thought to have been invented by Welsh romanticist and forger Edward Williams (aka Iolo Morganwg) in c.1800.

However, rather than being in Welsh, it appears to say ELTO PRO BONO. ‘Elto’ may be an acronym or a name, and pro bono is Latin for ‘for the (public) good’.

Charles Riley

Charles Riley Coins & Medals, Aylesbury

A bit of fun

MADAM – The lettering on the plaque is in Welsh bardic script (‘Coelbren y Beirdd’), which was invented by the famous Welsh antiquary, poet and forger Edward Williams (‘Iolo Morganwg’, 1747- 1826), who claimed it was an old alphabet of medieval bards. He had made it up himself, of course.

Transcriptions of the letters have long been available but the result does not produce words in Welsh, rather a bit of fun, presumably at the behest of a philanthropic gentleman, whose identity may lie in the undecipherable first line, which may be his initials.

The second line spells out the Latin PRO BONO, which suggests that this small plaque may have been affixed ‘for the public good’ to the front of (say) a pump or a horses’ watering trough set up by its creator in a public place.

Only those in the know could possibly have worked out that a fake Welsh alphabet could have produced a Latin ‘bon mot’.

The top line spells out ELTO, which is not Welsh or Latin (to my dim schoolboy recollection), but I can’t locate a mid-19th century Welsh gentleman with such initials, or perhaps his own and his wife’s initials joined up. Can anyone do better?

Tom Lloyd

(Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary)