St. James's Auctions Ltd > Auction 66Auction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 274

Price realized: 9,000 GBP   (Approx. 10,199 USD / 10,324 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:


William and Mary, five guineas, 1692, conjoined busts r., rev. crowned shield of arms (S.3422), rim damage, smoothed from 2-5 o'clock on rim, with graffiti X to rim almost in line with A in GRATIA to obverse, digs and nicks, otherwise good very fine
Gold coins were not the currency used by ordinary subjects prior to the 18th century, when commerce flourished for the nation as a whole as the Industrial Revolution changed the course of history forever. At the end of the 17th century, when this coin was struck, its intended use was primarily at court, with the landed gentry, and by banks, just then becoming established as true institutions. The value represented by five guineas in gold was just staggering by most people's estimation, equal to the earnings of months of labour for the common man. Gold coins were made in limited numbers, the metal itself being scarce, but in fact they offered the finest 'advertising' of the country's wealth, both at home and abroad. For this purpose, the portraiture and a new style of reverse (with seashells beside a crowned royal shield, replacing the cruciform of the previous two reigns' large gold) were provided for a pair of monarchs. The engraving was performed by James and Norbert Roettiers, whose father, John, was on the verge of retirement by the early 1690s. There was cause for this kind of special design: old James II's abdication, for the sake of his Catholic vows, paved the way for new blood mixed with the old, Mary II being his eldest daughter, married to the Protestant William of Orange. New faces, a crisp and different royal badge on the reverse of their coins, and fate was sealed: the pair accepted the offer of the throne by signing a Declaration of Rights. This established the supremacy of Parliament and issued in a new era of politics dominating the old monarchical rights and privileges. And yet, no coin ever looked more royal than this splendidly designed, huge piece of golden money.
(5000-8000 GBP)

Match 1:
St. James's Auctions Ltd > Auction 66Auction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 343

Price realized: 19,500 GBP   (Approx. 22,099 USD / 22,368 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:


Victoria, sovereign, 1863, second young head l., 827 on trun., rev. crowned shield of arms within wreath, no die number below (S.3852F; M.46A), certified and graded by NGC as About Uncirculated 58
Until 1954, the existence of this rarity remained unknown to the numismatic community. It first appeared in the Hatton Hoard found in Derbyshire, but with the addition of the die number 22 below the shield to the obverse.
This coin is referred to as 'first variety' 827 sovereigns in the Bentley Collection. The coins which also feature the die number 22 are referred to as the 'second type'.
The number of '827' sovereigns minted is also unknown although it can be deduced, more or less, if the theory is correct that the numerical designation appearing on the queen's bust at the truncation (well hidden from view) is that of a bar of gold made into sovereigns. This was in order to make a reliable count of how many sovereigns are equal to a gold bar in storage at the Royal Mint or at the Bank of England. Pieces so produced were, at the time, nothing but an accounting check for the mint or the bank and all were seemingly bagged and placed into commercial circulation. The English sovereign was the world's measure of money in 1863, and doubtless many of these '827' coins were shipped abroad, were used hard and were eventually melted.
The highest grade awarded by NGC on their census. Excessively rare, rarity R6.
St. James's Auctions sold another example of this rare coin as part of The Royal Berkshire Collection, Auction 57, lot 74 in February 2022 for £37,200.
(15000-20000 GBP)

Match 2:
Sovereign Rarities Ltd > Auction 8Auction date: 15 February 2023
Lot number: 59

Price realized: This lot is for sale in an upcoming auction - Bid on this lot
Lot description:


George IV (1820-30), gold proof Five Pounds, 1826, design by William Wyon, bare head left, date below, Latin legend and toothed border surrounding, GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA, rev. quartered shield of arms with an escutcheon of the Arms of Hanover upon crowned ermine mantle, Latin legend and toothed border surrounding, BRITANNIARUM REX FID: DEF:, edge inscribed in raised letters and dated, DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI SEPTIMO, 39.87g (WR 213 R3; L&S 27; Hill F6 S; Fr. 373; KM.702; S.3797). Obverse matt toned with surface marks and wear, particularly in tufts of hair, reverse better with an attractive orange hue revealing subdued proof brilliance, has been plugged and repaired between the orb on reverse crown and date below obverse portrait, some rim bruises, otherwise still an extremely desirable and rare piece, good very fine, reverse extremely fine.

Limited issue of 400 pieces.

The Latin obverse legend translates as "George the Fourth, by the Grace of God" continuing on the reverse as "King of the Britons, Defender of the Faith," and on the edge "an ornament and a safeguard, in the seventh year of the reign."

Starting price: 11500 GBP

Match 3:
Spink > Auction 382Auction date: 15 January 2023
Lot number: 181

Price realized: 10,000 USD   (Approx. 9,246 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:


George III (1760-1820), Pattern Proof Guinea, 1763, by Richard Yeo, GEORGIVS • III • DEI • GRATIA •, second laureate bust right, top leaf to right of second stop, rev. • M • B • F • ET • H • REX • F • D • B • ET • L • D • S • R • I • A • T • ET • E •, crowned shield of arms, edge plain, 7.63g, 12h (Farey 1505; Waterbird 20 same dies; W&R 87 var.; Bull 745 [R7]), previously polished with resultant brightness to fields, yet no evidence of smoothing to plain edges despite the underweight flan, hints of reddish-orange peripheral tone to reverse legends, otherwise brilliant, a stupendous canon of Yeo's approved currency design, the second example recorded from this newly discovered 'Waterbird' obverse die, of the highest rarity thus.
Provenance
Baumhauer, Part 2, Sincona 75, 16 May 2022, lot 237 - 'Altered Surfaces'
SNC, August 2000, no. 3127 - "polished, reverse with a red toned, good EF, and extremely rare" - £1,950
SNC, December 1998, no. 7321 - "with a light red tone, polished, EF and extremely rare - £2,000
Estimate: $8000 - $10000

Match 4:
Spink > Auction 382Auction date: 15 January 2023
Lot number: 203

Price realized: 12,000 USD   (Approx. 11,095 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:


NGC XF40 | *Single Finest Certified* | William IV (1830-1837), 'N of ANNO' in Shield Error' Sovereign, 1836, second bare head right, nose to I, coarse beading on obverse, rev. crowned shield on mantle, N of ANNO struck in shield, edge milled, 6h (Stratos, lot 134, no. 4 this coin; Marsh 20A [R4]; MCE 493; Spink 3829B), some nicks to adam's apple, and rubbed to hair, otherwise residually lustrous across original fields, a most pleasing example of the most remarkable and frankly ridiculous error in the long and illustrious history of the Sovereign coinage, only a dozen examples known to exist, this the fourth recorded back in 2008, from the same dies as the next coin, in NGC 'Baumhauer' holder, sympathetically graded NGC XF40 (Cert. #2124460-036).
Provenance
Baumhauer, Part 2, Sincona 75, 16 May 2022, lot 336
SJA 7, 8 February 2008, lot 610

At our 'Stratos' sale in September 2020, the following postcript was added about this bizarre Mint Error:

Many adjectives could have been used to describe this error, ranging from the mundane to the seriously bizarre, but as yet no convincing explanation for this truly unique Royal Mint 'error' has been forthcoming ever since the variety was first reported in 1989.
A political statement?
One argument follows the political coup of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte at Strasbourg on 29 October 1836 and his attempts to overthrow the incumbent King Louis-Philippe. The 'N' motif, as the Bonaparte emblem, could have been secreted onto this coin as a subtle demonstration or perhaps even representation of the English support for his Napoleonic cause. Such a motivation whilst quite fanciful, is not entirely without historical basis given the recorded sentiments of the crowd mobbing Bonaparte's lodgings at 30 George Street in 1831. Amongst his supporters was the Count Lennox, Innocent-Louis Goubaud, and Louis Belmontet, all of whom obtained funds from Bonaparte's mother to mount a failed insurrection that Summer. Significant too is that a mere two decades before this coin, the Royal Mint had been used to strike French specie in the name of the exiled Louis XVIII, so it is probable that mint workers and officials would have engaged actively in the public surrounding these events. However, one may also look to the other ground-breaking political events of William's reign, from the Reform Bill (1832) to the Slavery Abolition Act (1833), although mercifully in the case of the latter, no historical precedent for such an inflammatory device is found in any contemporary literature.
A Royal Mint racketeering rumble?
On a separate track, further investigation at the Royal Mint has revealed two other objects in their collection of matrices and dies for the Sovereign of William IV bearing an erroneous N stamped clear from the central design, but sadly no further clarity on the meaning of this punch. One highly practical reason for the error could be the deliberate marking of dies by Mint officials to detect the malfeasance of workers. The principle being that if a marked coin were discovered on your person, you would have no legitimate explanation for it. A similar ruse was used to detect a thief at the Philadelphia Mint in 1875, who was discovered with thirty-three 'marked' One Cent coins in his clothing. This would also account for the extreme rarity of the variety in circulation, and the seemingly deliberate placement of the mark, as if disguised within the wider Mantle detailing. There is also clear evidence that Mint officials had problems with theft of metal from the mint, as in the case of the story of 'Williamson and Austin, of Lambeth Street', who were found to have 'a blank sovereign on their possession, the property of His Majesty's mint' (The Globe, 16 March 1832), or indeed the earlier story of 'G. Keith, who carried off gold blanks from the Mint' (Dorset County Chronicle, 4 February 1830). However exciting this possibility, it would not account for the apparent test or trial punches held within the Museum collection, which would point towards a more practical reason for their existence.
A Mint worker's claim to fame?
Precedent for the incorporation of designer's initials into coin designs is readily seen on the numismatic portraiture of this period with engraver's signatures apparent on the truncation of each model. However more obscure is the buried initials of William Wellesley-Pole and William Wyon in the floral sprays of the 1816 and 1817 'type 1' Halfcrowns. Whilst incuse, they provide the most obvious parallel for the present coin, where, as has been previously observed, the N is carefully integrated. Perhaps a mint worker was familiar with this hidden feature of the earlier Halfcrowns, or had even worked on them, and therefore thought himself equally deserving of numismatic notoriety? A major counter to this idea would be the level of mint regulation and access to punches, and indeed the great likelihood of there being many examples of this across the British numismatic corpus if standards were truly so lax - at present no other example has been identified - and again why would there be test strikings?
A scientific experiment?
Logically this leads us on to the question of scientific experimentation. As with the 1819 Sovereign (lot 115), assessment of circulation wear and alloy purity testing were all being conducted at the Royal Mint during this time and would continue well into the reign of Queen Victoria through the likes of the 'Ansell' 'brittle-gold' Sovereign issues of 1859; the '827' ingot coins of 1863, and even the Palladium-Hydrogenium strikings of Half-Sovereigns by T. Graham in 1869. It is worth also recalling that the first half of William's reign saw a concerted effort at the Mint to introduce a new model for the Half-Sovereign, first introduced to circulation in 1834, but withdrawn and replaced by the old standard by 1836. Perhaps alongside this process, and in a longstanding Mint tradition of marking the source of the bullion, the N is representative of a source of supply, or a new composition of alloy that was not subsequently adopted. Given the known history of Mint operations, the presence of trial strikings and the transitional nature of production at the time, at present, this explanation seems the most feasible for this otherwise entirely mystifying variety.
The corpus can be constructed as follows. The dates in brackets show the earliest record of each example, with those in bold identifying the known offerings in the present market. As noted by the condition reports, the present example is the best presently offered, either in core grade or in 'honesty' of appearance, and is evidently amongst the finest of the 12 examples known:
1. (1989) - 'An example was examined by the Royal Mint, and is only in fine condition'. Mr B Williams (Shetland); Roy Stirling (Cheshire), FPL, October 1995, illustrated in 'The Gold Sovereign', Michael Marsh, (2nd Edition, Cambridge, 1999) plate 10, page 24.
2. (2003) - DNW 59, 7 October 2003, lot 761, 'sometime cleaned but GVF [unsold]; SJA 12, 5 November 2009 lot 709, 'lightly burnished with a tiny dig below bust' [unsold]; SJA 13, 6 May 2010, lot 899 [£12,800]; SJA 16, 7 December 2010, lot 342 [£8,000]. This example studied by Michael Marsh.
3. (2005) - Spink 175, 28 September 2005, lot 1701, 'lightly smoothed on edge at 6 o'clock, two minor edge nicks, GVF' [£12,500]; Bentley, Baldwins 73, 8 May 2012, lot 31 [£12,000]
4. (2008) - SJA 7, 8 February 2008, Lot 610, 'nick on adam's apple, about F' [£3,400]; Baumhauer, Part 2, Sincona 75, 16 May 2022, lot 336 - This coin
5. (2009) - SJA 11, 8 May 2009, lot 375, 'almost VF, the reverse better' [unsold]
6. (2010) - SJA 14, 30 September 2010, lot 411, 'good VF, the reverse better' [withdrawn]; SJA 28, 24 June 2014, lot 615, 'light rubbing on top of hair, gVF' [£6,400]
7. (2012) - Spink 212, 28 March 2012, lot 1044 - "F" [£3,400]; Ingram, private listing [£7,950]
8. (2013) - SJA 23, 4 February 2013, lot 323, 'a really good F' [£7,600]; LCA 152, 4 June 2016, lot 3527 [unsold]; LCA 153, 4 June 2016, lot 3427 [£4,200]; The Royal Berkshire Collection, SJA 57, 24 February 2022, lot 32 - the next coin
9. (2015) - LCA 150, 5 September 2015, lot 2946 - 'bagmarks, VF, in CGS holder, graded 50' [£9,000]; Stanley Gibbons Investments, CM002002, subsequently provenance unsubstantiated, private listing [£15,000]
10. (2015) - Warwick & Warwick 772, 19 August 2015, lot 510 [£3,068 incl. Premium]; LCA 151, 5 December 2015, lot 3054 [£5,000]; BSJ 9, 21 September 2017, lot 1668 - 'scratches on reverse, F' [£3,600]; LCA 161, 2 June 2018, lot 1945 - 'the reverse with some thin scratches, very good / fine' [£5,500]
11. (2020) - AMR Coins, 'polished, fair', private listing [£3,950 - Reserved]; Sovereign Rarities, private listing (ref. EI16024) [£6,000]
12. Spink 'Stratos', 15 September, lot 134 [£12,000]
Estimate: $12000 - $15000

Match 5:
Spink > Auction 382Auction date: 15 January 2023
Lot number: 204

Price realized: 10,000 USD   (Approx. 9,246 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:


William IV (1830-1837), 'N of ANNO' in Shield Error' Sovereign, 1836, second bare head right, nose to I, coarse beading on obverse, rev. crowned shield on mantle, N of ANNO struck in shield, edge milled, 7.93g, 6h (Stratos, lot 134, no. 8 this coin; Marsh 20A [R4]; MCE 493; Spink 3829B), a small scratch on cheek and rub to hair, otherwise lightly toned, near very fine, the error beautifully clear, a most pleasing example of the most remarkable and frankly ridiculous error in the long and illustrious history of the Sovereign coinage, only a dozen examples known to exist, from the same dies as the last coin.
Provenance
The Royal Berkshire Collection, SJA 57, 24 February 2022, lot 32
LCA 153, 4 June 2016, lot 3427
LCA 152, 5 March 2016, lot 3527
SJA 23, 4 February 2013, lot 323 - a really good fine, reverse better, extremely rare - £7,400
At our 'Stratos' sale in September 2020, the following postcript was added about this bizarre Mint Error:

Many adjectives could have been used to describe this error, ranging from the mundane to the seriously bizarre, but as yet no convincing explanation for this truly unique Royal Mint 'error' has been forthcoming ever since the variety was first reported in 1989.
A political statement?
One argument follows the political coup of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte at Strasbourg on 29 October 1836 and his attempts to overthrow the incumbent King Louis-Philippe. The 'N' motif, as the Bonaparte emblem, could have been secreted onto this coin as a subtle demonstration or perhaps even representation of the English support for his Napoleonic cause. Such a motivation whilst quite fanciful, is not entirely without historical basis given the recorded sentiments of the crowd mobbing Bonaparte's lodgings at 30 George Street in 1831. Amongst his supporters was the Count Lennox, Innocent-Louis Goubaud, and Louis Belmontet, all of whom obtained funds from Bonaparte's mother to mount a failed insurrection that Summer. Significant too is that a mere two decades before this coin, the Royal Mint had been used to strike French specie in the name of the exiled Louis XVIII, so it is probable that mint workers and officials would have engaged actively in the public surrounding these events. However, one may also look to the other ground-breaking political events of William's reign, from the Reform Bill (1832) to the Slavery Abolition Act (1833), although mercifully in the case of the latter, no historical precedent for such an inflammatory device is found in any contemporary literature.
A Royal Mint racketeering rumble?
On a separate track, further investigation at the Royal Mint has revealed two other objects in their collection of matrices and dies for the Sovereign of William IV bearing an erroneous N stamped clear from the central design, but sadly no further clarity on the meaning of this punch. One highly practical reason for the error could be the deliberate marking of dies by Mint officials to detect the malfeasance of workers. The principle being that if a marked coin were discovered on your person, you would have no legitimate explanation for it. A similar ruse was used to detect a thief at the Philadelphia Mint in 1875, who was discovered with thirty-three 'marked' One Cent coins in his clothing. This would also account for the extreme rarity of the variety in circulation, and the seemingly deliberate placement of the mark, as if disguised within the wider Mantle detailing. There is also clear evidence that Mint officials had problems with theft of metal from the mint, as in the case of the story of 'Williamson and Austin, of Lambeth Street', who were found to have 'a blank sovereign on their possession, the property of His Majesty's mint' (The Globe, 16 March 1832), or indeed the earlier story of 'G. Keith, who carried off gold blanks from the Mint' (Dorset County Chronicle, 4 February 1830). However exciting this possibility, it would not account for the apparent test or trial punches held within the Museum collection, which would point towards a more practical reason for their existence.
A Mint worker's claim to fame?
Precedent for the incorporation of designer's initials into coin designs is readily seen on the numismatic portraiture of this period with engraver's signatures apparent on the truncation of each model. However more obscure is the buried initials of William Wellesley-Pole and William Wyon in the floral sprays of the 1816 and 1817 'type 1' Halfcrowns. Whilst incuse, they provide the most obvious parallel for the present coin, where, as has been previously observed, the N is carefully integrated. Perhaps a mint worker was familiar with this hidden feature of the earlier Halfcrowns, or had even worked on them, and therefore thought himself equally deserving of numismatic notoriety? A major counter to this idea would be the level of mint regulation and access to punches, and indeed the great likelihood of there being many examples of this across the British numismatic corpus if standards were truly so lax - at present no other example has been identified - and again why would there be test strikings?
A scientific experiment?
Logically this leads us on to the question of scientific experimentation. As with the 1819 Sovereign (lot 115), assessment of circulation wear and alloy purity testing were all being conducted at the Royal Mint during this time and would continue well into the reign of Queen Victoria through the likes of the 'Ansell' 'brittle-gold' Sovereign issues of 1859; the '827' ingot coins of 1863, and even the Palladium-Hydrogenium strikings of Half-Sovereigns by T. Graham in 1869. It is worth also recalling that the first half of William's reign saw a concerted effort at the Mint to introduce a new model for the Half-Sovereign, first introduced to circulation in 1834, but withdrawn and replaced by the old standard by 1836. Perhaps alongside this process, and in a longstanding Mint tradition of marking the source of the bullion, the N is representative of a source of supply, or a new composition of alloy that was not subsequently adopted. Given the known history of Mint operations, the presence of trial strikings and the transitional nature of production at the time, at present, this explanation seems the most feasible for this otherwise entirely mystifying variety.
The corpus can be constructed as follows. The dates in brackets show the earliest record of each example, with those in bold identifying the known offerings in the present market. As noted by the condition reports, the present example is the best presently offered, either in core grade or in 'honesty' of appearance, and is evidently amongst the finest of the 12 examples known:
1. (1989) - 'An example was examined by the Royal Mint, and is only in fine condition'. Mr B Williams (Shetland); Roy Stirling (Cheshire), FPL, October 1995, illustrated in 'The Gold Sovereign', Michael Marsh, (2nd Edition, Cambridge, 1999) plate 10, page 24.
2. (2003) - DNW 59, 7 October 2003, lot 761, 'sometime cleaned but GVF [unsold]; SJA 12, 5 November 2009 lot 709, 'lightly burnished with a tiny dig below bust' [unsold]; SJA 13, 6 May 2010, lot 899 [£12,800]; SJA 16, 7 December 2010, lot 342 [£8,000]. This example studied by Michael Marsh.
3. (2005) - Spink 175, 28 September 2005, lot 1701, 'lightly smoothed on edge at 6 o'clock, two minor edge nicks, GVF' [£12,500]; Bentley, Baldwins 73, 8 May 2012, lot 31 [£12,000]
4. (2008) - SJA 7, 8 February 2008, Lot 610, 'nick on adam's apple, about F' [£3,400]; Baumhauer, Part 2, Sincona 75, 16 May 2022, lot 336 - the last coin
5. (2009) - SJA 11, 8 May 2009, lot 375, 'almost VF, the reverse better' [unsold]
6. (2010) - SJA 14, 30 September 2010, lot 411, 'good VF, the reverse better' [withdrawn]; SJA 28, 24 June 2014, lot 615, 'light rubbing on top of hair, gVF' [£6,400]
7. (2012) - Spink 212, 28 March 2012, lot 1044 - "F" [£3,400]; Ingram, private listing [£7,950]
8. (2013) - SJA 23, 4 February 2013, lot 323, 'a really good F' [£7,600]; LCA 152, 4 June 2016, lot 3527 [unsold]; LCA 153, 4 June 2016, lot 3427 [£4,200]; The Royal Berkshire Collection, SJA 57, 24 February 2022, lot 32 - This coin
9. (2015) - LCA 150, 5 September 2015, lot 2946 - 'bagmarks, VF, in CGS holder, graded 50' [£9,000]; Stanley Gibbons Investments, CM002002, subsequently provenance unsubstantiated, private listing [£15,000]
10. (2015) - Warwick & Warwick 772, 19 August 2015, lot 510 [£3,068 incl. Premium]; LCA 151, 5 December 2015, lot 3054 [£5,000]; BSJ 9, 21 September 2017, lot 1668 - 'scratches on reverse, F' [£3,600]; LCA 161, 2 June 2018, lot 1945 - 'the reverse with some thin scratches, very good / fine' [£5,500]
11. (2020) - AMR Coins, 'polished, fair', private listing [£3,950 - Reserved]; Sovereign Rarities, private listing (ref. EI16024) [£6,000]
12. Spink 'Stratos', 15 September, lot 134 [£12,000]
Estimate: $10000 - $12000