|Stephen Album Rare Coins > Auction 45||Auction date: 26 January 2023|
|Lot number: 1078|
Price realized: 2,000 USD (Approx. 1,843 EUR) Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
WESTERN HAN: stone mold, a partial stackable wu zhu cash coin stone mold with 12 complete and 4 incomplete carvings for casting bronze coinage, a very interesting piece!
Estimate: 500-700 USD
|Spink > Auction 23004||Auction date: 3 April 2023|
|Lot number: 628|
Price realized: 35,000 GBP (Approx. 43,274 USD / 39,812 EUR) Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
(x) Elizabeth II (1952-1965), An 'Unauthorised Striking' 22ct 'Electrum-Alloy' Gold Halfpenny, 1965, from official Royal Mint dies (Alloy: 91.7% Au; 4.7% Cu; 3.6% Ar), laureate first young head right, by Mary Gillick, M.G. incuse on truncation, rev. Golden Hind sailing left in calm seas, 12.44g, 25.5mm., 12h (Lobel EL2HD-130; cf. Freeman 492, dies 3+H; cf. Spink 4158), areas of striking softness to mast, planking and below HALF, with scarcely perceptible sporadic bagmarks in otherwise lustrous, original fields, choice FDC, a truly enigmatic 'mint sport' heirloom from Queen Elizabeth II's unprecedented reign, this in effect 'her rarest coin' alongside the 1954 Penny as being entirely UNIQUE.
Spink 207, 28-29 March 2012, lot 1051,
The Property of a Monmouthshire Collector (May 1925 - † September 2000), and by descent to an executor,
W G Pritchard, Glendining, 8 October 1991, lot 1039*,
~ Royal Mint letter to D Fearon, confirming earlier findings, dated 29 July 1991 ~,
Mr Michael Forman, 'a representative of the Royal Mint came to Birmingham to hand the coin back', 9 December 1969
Royal Mint Museum Collection, 28 February - 8 December 1969,
Frank H Fellows & Sons (Edgbaston) Sale 15, 20 November 1968 - sale postponed following investigation by the Director of Public Prosecutions into the origins of the coin, prompting its seizure by Birmingham CID under the Coinage Offences Act (1936) ~,
~ Prior to the auction, 'Mr A E Fellows, partner, stated: 'I was absolutely astounded. It was brought to us about two weeks ago. The coin did not look as if it had been touched since it was struck.', (Birmingham Daily Post, 14 November 1968) ~,
The Collection of a Birmingham Gentleman, who sold the coin by private treaty back to Forman
Michael Forman, (Format Coins & Medal Co., Birmingham) 'to a local collector', by private treaty, 1967 - £700.0.0
'Purchased in London, from a reputable dealer' by Mr Michael Forman, 1966 - 'There are people capable of making coins like this, but I believe it was made at the Royal Mint in 1965.'
In 1991, the coin was resubmitted for examination at the Royal Mint when the following statement was given: "It does not correspond to any coin that was struck by the Royal Mint in the 1960s. There seems little doubt, however, that whatever the origin of the blank it had been struck by official halfpenny dies. It is true, as my colleagues noted in 1968, that in places the design has not been fully struck up, but elsewhere the fine striations on the surface are consistent with what might be expected of halfpenny dies of the period. The areas of weakness reflect a less than full blow, or perhaps a blank with an uneven surface, and it may be significant that the edge has evidently required special treatment. It was not possible in 1968 to throw any light on the circumstances in which the coin was struck, and my colleagues contented themselves with the statement that the coin had not been struck either legally or accidently in the Royal Mint. This form of words did not exclude the possibility that a Mint employee had brought in a gold blank and illegally and deliberately, placed it in a coining press at work on 1965 halfpennies. It is a possibility which surviving papers show was raised at the time, and it remains, perhaps the most likely explanation.,
~ "Still no sale for the gold halfpenny": The gold halfpenny that came back to Birmingham yesterday after two legal wrangles cannot be sold yet - it is still regarded as counterfeit. But last month, the High Court upheld an appeal by the coin dealers against the lower court decision. And yesterday, a representative of the Royal Mint came to Birmingham to hand the coin back. Mr Michael Forman, managing director of the Format Coin and Medal Co. said last night: "We have got the coin back, but it will be put away in safe keeping for the present. Within the law it is still counterfeit. We shall now take what legal steps we can to clarify the position, because numismatically speaking, we don't regard it as a counterfeit." Mr Forman said he believed the gold coin was made illegally at the Royal Mint. (10 December 1969, Birmingham Daily Post) ~,
~ Solicitor Maurice Putsman petitions for the return of the coin to Format Coins, as it is accessioned by Mr. Baird into the Mint Collection. ~,
~ Birmingham Stipendiary, Mr John F. Milward orders that the 22ct gold coin 'made in 1966' should be handed over to the Royal Mint, (28 February 1969, Birmingham Daily Post) ~,
~ "The mystery halfpenny", 'Mr Ernest George Newman, a chemist and assayer of the Royal Mint said he had examined the coin and found it was made of an alloy of gold, silver and copper of a type which was not used in the Royal Mint. Questioned by Mr. Putsman, Mr. Newman said that in his opinion the coin was counterfeit because it had not been made legally or accidentally in the Royal Mint. He agreed that the coin could have been made illegally in the Mint. Mr. William T. Baird, Superintendent of the Royal Mint, said he had examined the coin and was also of the opinion that it had not been struck legally or accidentally in the Royal Mint. Questioned by Mr. Putsman he agreed that it could have been produced in a Mint die - but had it been an ordinary halfpenny it would have been rejected as sub-standard. He could not rule out the possibility that it had been struck improperly in a Mint die. Mr. Baird said that the most noticeable differences between the coin and a genuine halfpenny were its colour and its weight. It was possible that someone could be deceived into thinking that it was a half-penny. Mr. Putsman: 'Can you imagine and possible object in making someone thinking that it was a halfpenny? - None whatsoever. Mr. Putsman said there was no clear definition of a counterfeit coin. He submitted that coin was not a counterfeit. It was not intended to pass for one of a higher denomination - it was merely a piece of gold alloy struck in the form of a halfpenny. There could be no possible intention to deceive, as it did not represent a coin of a higher denomination. Mr A R Arnell (appearing for the Police) said that the coin was not a halfpenny, and it was not a genuine gold coin. it could be described as a "genuine gold imitation half-penny". That meant it was false and counterfeit. Making an order for the coin to be handed over to the Royal Mint, Stipendiary (Mr. J. F. Milward) said: 'I am quite satisfied now, odd though the result is, that it is a counterfeit coin. It is false, and it resembles a current coin of the realm. It is true that there are differences in colour and weight, but it is not all that different in appearance from a new halfpenny, which is bright when it leaves the Mint." After the case, Mr. Baird said the coin would be held for seven days, and then it would be put in the museum at the Mint. The museum at the Mint was unique and contained many very valuable coins. (21 February 1969, Birmingham Mail) ~,
~ "Gold coin was not made at the Royal Mint", An investigation into a gold halfpenny which had been advertised for sale in Birmingham, had shown that it had not been produced at the Royal Mint, either legally or accidentally, the Birmingham Stipendiary J F Milward was told yesterday. Mr D. Emrys Morgan, for the police, said that the coin had been seized by police on a warrant under the Coinage Offences Act, 1936. The Stipendiary, who was shown the coin, ordered that it should remain in the possession of the police during the adjournment. Asking for an adjournment until February 6, Mr. Morgan said that the police had information that the coin was being advertised for sale as a 1965 gold halfpenny. Mr Morgan added: 'There are people who are interested in this particular coin and I ask for adjournment so that they can be heard, and it is desirable that they should be heard. Mr. Morgan said that police took possession of the coin after a warrant had been issued the Coinage Offences Act of 1936, and this was the first convenient time for the matter to be brought before the court. (22 January 1969, Birmingham Daily Post) ~
~ A spokesman for the Royal Mint stated: 'It would have to be struck from a die if it is an exact replica. It could have been struck with steel dies in a power press. We have never heard of such a thing as a gold half-penny before. It might well be unique.', 13 November 1968 ~,
, , ,
From the legal wrangling, it is evident that this coin remains officially condemned as a forgery 'made neither legally or accidentally by the Royal Mint', with provisional metallurgical analysis conducted in December 1968 suggesting that the blend of gold, silver and copper was not consistent with any authentic mint product at that time. However an exhaustive study of the dies confirms their match to Freeman's attributed matrix pairing '3+H', the same as that identified for the currency strikings of 1965. Since 1969, the public appearance of a multitude of 'mint sport' strikings from 1965, and the years immediately surrounding adds significant credibility to Michael Forman's original contention that this was an illicit production inside the Royal Mint. For example:
i) Halfpenny, 1965, 5.73g, 12h, struck in cupro-nickel; LCA 175, 4 December 2021, lot 2132, graded LCGS 80, 'Variety 02' (£240); LCA 139, December 2012, lot 532 (£130)
ii) Commemorative 'Churchill' Crown, 1965, struck with two obverse dies; Stack's, 14 August 2019, lot 22903 - PCGS MS63 [$2,200]
iii) Penny, 1966, struck on a Commonwealth (Jamaica ?) brass coin blank; SRA 7, 21 September 2022, lot 255 - LCGS 70 [£650]; Steve Copthorne, collection dispersed by Cooke; Dr Findlow 'Hall of Fame'; C Adams, Spink, 23 July 2003, lot 371
iv) Two-Shillings, 1966, 7.30g, 12h, struck on a foreign lightweight planchet; Spink Numismatic e-Circular - '50 Years of Decimalisation', 6 January 2022, lot 9110 - NGC UNC Details [£75]
v) Penny, 1964, 12h, a double reverse mule; Spink Numismatic e-Circular - '50 Years of Decimalisation', 6 January 2022, lot 9111 - NGC AU58 BN [£750]
, , ,
The Royal Mint Annual reports add the following contextual details:, ,
In 1965, Superintendent Baird recorded:,
The Die Department has been reorganised to cope with the demand of dies and tooling both for internal use and for external supplies. The heat treatment shop has been equipped with additional salt baths, the method of packing dies in charcoal and heating them for stress-relieving and hardening in muffle type furnaces has been thereby superseded., ,
The hydraulic die-sinking press installed last year has been successful and has supplanted the friction press for the hobbing of all coinage dies. A further press of the same specification is on order and will be used for the hobbing of matrices, punches and standard medal dies., ,
In collaboration with Birmingham University, a project has been put in hand to explore the possibilities of high-rate forming techniques for die manufacture. Further developments which are still under consideration include:, ,
i) Automatic examination of coin blanks
ii) Automatic weight grading of coins or blanks in precious metals.
iii) A universal automatic feed for coining presses
iv) Elevator feed for rotary blank annealers
v) Continuous or semi-continuous casting techniques
Ten 180 ton Hordern, Mason & Edwards coining presses were installed. Two of these were fitted with a variable speed friction drive unit in place of the D.C. motor normally supplied. An improved method of bottom die location was tried and proved on one press and is now being applied to all machines.
The increases in production of coins, medals and specimen coins put a considerable burden on the security organisation; this was covered by increasing the supervising staff in some sections and improving the security layout in areas concerned., ,
During the year 3.5 million ounces of gold were processed and successfully accounted for. Process losses are normally so tightly controlled that there is little scope for improvement; losses were slightly lower than in the past notably in the melting area where a 5 per cent improvement was achieved.
Staff Employed in the Operative Department at the End of 1965
Professional - 11,
Clerical - 51,
Technical - 44,
Drawing Office - 5,
Die and Seal Department - 62,
Melting - 55,
Rolling, Cutting, Annealing, Marking- 236,
Coining - 176,
Weighing and Telling - 68,
Mechanics - 152,
Medal Department - 53,
Stamp and Revenue Department - 38,
The numbers of good pieces passed for issue in 1964 and 1965 are shown in the following table:,
United Kingdom Coinage - 441,152,068 (1964) - 500,922,606 (1965)
Commonwealth Coinage - 353759,700 (1964) - 424,784,700 (1965)
Foreign Coinage - 249,716,500 (1964) - 332,360,000 (1965)
The 500,922,606 pieces of the United Kingdom coinage passed for issue were made up as follows:,
Sovereigns - Gold - 5,400,000 - £5,400,000,
Maundy Sets - Silver - 4,806 - £50.0.0,
Crowns - CuNi - 12,080,000 - £3,020,000.0.0,
Halfcrowns - CuNi - 8,124,800 - £1,015,000.0.0,
Florins - CuNi - 48,723,000 - £4,872,300.0.0,
Shillings (English) - CuNi - 9,218,900 - £460,945.0.0,
Shillings (Scottish) - CuNi - 2,017,100 - £100,855.0.0,
Sixpences - CuNi - 149,948,000 - £3,748,700.0.0,
Threepences - Nickel-Brass - 23,907,200 - £298,840.0.0,
Pence - Bronze - 135,534,000 - £564,725.0.0,
Halfpence - Bronze - 105,964,800 - £220,760.0.0,
*These include the following coins dated 1964:, ,
£1 - 3,000,000,
2s. 6d. - 1,474,400,
2s. - 1,135,000,
1s. (E) - 2,900,
1s. (S) - 1,100,
6d. - 22,076,000,
3d. - 2,787,200,
1d. - 14,334,000,
1/2d. - 8,764,800,
, , ,
Life of Coinage Dies:,
Number of dies used 1964: Obverse 16,270 / Reverse 14,358 / Total 30,628 - Coins: 1,050,851,646 = Average 68,620 per die,
Number of dies used 1965: Obverse 19,765 / Reverse 17,996 / Total 37,761 - Coins: 1,261,602,287 = Average 66,820 per die, , , ,
The following table is an analysis, according to alloys, of pieces passed for issue in the years 1964 and 1965.,
United Kingdom 916.67 - 5,090*,
Struck before 1964, but not included in any previous totals:,
£1 - 3,622 dated 1963, and £1 - 1,468 dated 1962
The Melting Branch reported a total of 3,587,493.824 ounces (109.8211 tons) of gold coin and scissel melted to produce 3,379,950.160 (103.4677 tons) of gold bars, with a fineness between 92.890 and 94.570. The following is recorded:,
.999 Fine - 11,307.298 oz - 0.3461 tons = 10,693.870 oz - 0.3274 tons - 94.570%,
.980 Fine - 22,206.895 oz - 0.6798 = 20,628.810 oz - 0.6315 tons - 92.800%,
.916.6 Au/Ag - 8,753.581 oz - 0.2680 tons = 8,225.730 oz - 0.2518 tons - 93.979%,
.916.6 Au/Cu - 3,545,226.050 oz - 108.5272 tons = 3,340,401.750 - 102.2570 tons - 94.222%
The percentage of gold bars cast in the years 1964 and 1965, which after assay were passed for rolling are shown below:,
United Kingdom - 916.67 - (-)  - 98.19 ,
Commonwealth and Foreign - 999 - (-)  - 100.00 ,
Commonwealth and Foreign - 980 - (-)  - 100.00 ,
Commonwealth and Foreign - 916.67 Au/Ag - (-)  - 100.00 ,
, , ,
X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis:,
Coin production has risen 63 per cent over the last two years and seems likely to rise continuously, if a little less sharply, for many years to come. With this increase has come the problem of storage space for raw materials, the materials in process and the finished coin., ,
By making materials available shortly after arrival and by releasing coins for issue within hours of striking, the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer has made a valuable contribution to the production increase. It has also made it possible to reduce certain stockpiles and release more working space., ,
The 73 per cent increase in the number of assays performed in 1965 over those of 1964 is partly due to the practice of determing all the major constituents and some minor ones in each individual sample; in practice, using the spectrometer, this takes very little extra time and minimizes errors. , ,
Previously, for instance, zinc was determined 'by difference' and nickel determined only on one sample in five - unless there was a reason to suspect incorrect composition., ,
The national and international standing of the Royal Mint makes it essential for the Assay Office to keep a consistently high standard of compositional control. For many years such standards have been maintained by classical methods of chemical analysis. The recent rapid growth of coin production had made it necessary to expand the department to cope with the increased analysis. The expansion has been made in the direction of instrumental methods of analysis and only one addition has been made to the staff. The advent of the X-Ray Spectrometer two years ago marked the beginning of the programme to modernise the Assay Office. The office has five floor levels including a basement. Before the spectrometer took the bulk of the routine assays, two rooms on the first floor were used for weighing out samples. The smaller of these two rooms is now quite adequate for weighing gold and silver. The rest of this first floor consists of administrative offices of the department and a laboratory for gold and silver analysis. Of the remaining space on the ground floor, one room is devoted to X-ray fluorescence analysis and the other contains furnaces for gold assaying; this latter room is to be modified to include the R.F. induction furnace (mentioned in the 1954 Mint Report)., ,
A new mill manufactured by Messrs. Albert Mann Ltd., having 6 in. diameter by 7 in. diameter rolls driven by a 10 h.p. a.c. single speed motor with a three speed gear shift unit was introduced. Initial troubles due to slight roll-to-bearing eccentricity were overcome, following which the mill has been in continuous use. , ,
During the course of the year the standard accuracy has improved until it has surpassed the level of previous runs. The sovereign has a weight of 123.274 grains with a tolerance by weight of +/- 0.2 grains. The finished gauge at the required diameter is 0.0485 in. with a tolerance of +/- 0.0000787in., ,
Previous runs on sovereign production produced cut blanks from the finished strip which were acceptable for coining in the following percentages:,
1958/9 - 68.5 per cent,
1963 - 72 per cent,
1965 - 82 per cent,
1965 December - 90 per cent, ,
In the last quarter there was an almost total elimination of light blanks; the small percentage of heavy blanks were reduced by anodic dissolution to within the upper weight limit.
Estimate: £20,000 - £25,000
|Spink > Auction 23004||Auction date: 3 April 2023|
|Lot number: 404|
Price realized: 6,500 GBP (Approx. 8,037 USD / 7,394 EUR) Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Eadgar, King of the Mercians (957-959), latterly, King of All England (1 October 959 - 8 July 975), Round Halfpenny, struck October 959 - 963 [?], Winchester, + EADGAR • REX, small cross pattée, rev. VV-IN divided by outfacing long crosses, evenly spaced pellet in each angle and at centre, 0.52g [8.4grns], 10h (Biddle & Harvey, The Winchester Mint and Coins and Related Finds from the Excavations of 1966-71, , pp. 94, "possibly a misread coin of Eadwig" and Corpus no. 32D [Rect; cf. EMC 1991.0256; cf. EMC 2006.0203 [Eadwig]; CTCE -; North 754; Spink 1140C), minor edge loss between 12 and 2 o'clock, and a truly inconsequential flan furl between 10 and 12 o'clock, otherwise of excellent metal; of simplistic style yet talented and competent engravership, and beautifully uniform for strike, near extremely fine and OF THE HIGHEST RARITY; the first of its kind discovered since 1841, only full coin extant and comprehensive proof of this issue being struck under Eadgar; and thus the most important addition to the extremely limited corpus of 10th Century 'Round Halfpennies' since the discoveries of the Eadwig parallel coin at Calbourne (Isle of Wight) in 2006 and the Wilton coin of Boiga sold through these rooms in December 2011 for £10,400.
Found at Preston Candover (Hants), Sunday 9 October 2022,
~ Recorded with the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambs), ref. EMC 2022.0360 ~
The via media of English kingship underwent a transition through the latter half of the tenth century, not least in the identification of the Sovereign to his subjects. The reflection of the ebbing and flowing fortune of the Cerdic household in the conquest, abandonment and reconquest of the Danelaw plays out across their numismatic emissions. The conversion also included the familiarisation of language towards the historic Royal seats at Winchester, and would ultimately culminate in birth of the 'modern Coronation' ceremony at Bath on 11 May 973.
When Eadgar's half-uncle Aethelstan declared himself REX TOTIUS BRITANNIAE before AD 931, the coinage reflected this elevation as much as it commemorated his recapture of York about AD 927. The perpetuation of this title, alongside its localised variant REX SAXONORVM continued in the liberated Northern territories until his death in AD 939, but unlike the Caesarian transitions of Rome, the title would not pass uninterrupted to his successor and eldest son Eadmund (939-946). His reign would be punctuated by the loss and recapture of York to Hiberno-Norse factions, and the temporary issue of coins signed in his name EADMUND REX EB[ORACVM].
Eadred, his younger brother, succeeded him in on 26 May 946; gifting England an effective Regency as a pre-cursor to the maturation of Eadmund's children. Although EADRED REX was thus styled on the majority of his coinage, the furtherance of 'exceptional types' at Chester permitted his apparently brief elevation to EADRED REX SAXONORVM (EMC 2009.0296). Evidently the reflection of such title came with a legitimate rule over Mercia and Northumbria, rather than an as honorific or optimistic claim to the territory as the Hanoverians displayed with France in the 18th Century. The final ostracisation of the Viking force from Northumbria occurred with the death of Erik Bloodaxe at Jorvik in AD 954. Eadred's response was to appoint Earl Oswulf as high-reeve of Northumbria at Bamburgh Castle; a position that he likely occupied until his own death in AD 963. When Eadwig ascended on 23 November 955, the fourteen year old swiftly found himself less favoured than his younger brother Eadgar. Dunstan, Abbot of Glastonbury had been the chief religious aid to King Eadred, turning down the bishopric of Winchester in 951, and Crediton in 953 to maintain loyally to the King's count. However Dunstan, a gold and silversmith by profession, inadvertently offended the new teenage King soon after his Coronation and was forced into exile. However in 957, Mercia and Northumbria separately recognised Eadgar as King of the Northern territories, whereas those areas south of the Thames continued to recognise Eadwig as overlord. Eadgar immediately recalled Dunstan and appointed him Bishop of Worcester. The following year Dunstan was given the see of London too. Soon after, Oda, Archbishop of Canterbury died and a dispute arose between Eadgar and Eadwig about a successor. Eadwig favoured Ælfsige of Winchester, who unfortunately died in the Alps on his journey to Rome. Subsequently Eadwig appointed another loyalist Byrthelm, Bishop of Wells. However Eadwig's death on 1 October 959 truncated this appointment, and Eadgar soon replaced Byrthelm with Dunstan.
The numismatic timeline for this demarcation has hitherto been poorly understood other than to state that Eadwig's coinage as REX ANGLORVM was evidently acceptable in both Kingdoms, and Eadgar until his brother's death appears to have remained simply 'King of the Mercians' and probably without a styled coinage. In Eadwig's south-western stronghold, 'Circumscription Cross' Pennies were struck at the Devon mints with more expressive titles than his wider national series. At Barnstaple, REX SAXONUM reappears alongside his name, elsewhere more curious legends including the semi-blundered 'REX ZAXN TATVM (or possibly TA[L]IVM) at Totnes; and even REX (ANG)TNI (Exeter), which may provide us with hybrid expressions of 'King of All (or even These) Saxons' and even 'King of the Ang(li)tani'.
Prior to the discovery at Headley (Surrey) in 2014, Eadgar's principal Penny coinage could be divided into four core types. Unsurprisingly the Circumscription Cross and Two Line types once again form the bulk of the national series. The expansion of the portrait issues also appear in larger quantities at this time. However, more locally the continuance of 'Exceptional' types from Mercia frames the regional variation in which the remarkable 'Alpha and Omega' Penny from Shaftesbury evidently sits (EMC 2014.0296). Whilst these coinages can hardly be deemed radical in the numismatic context of 10th Century workmanship or artistic precedent, the return of the loaded 'ethnic determiner' REX TOTIUS BRITANNIAE under Eadgar for the first time since Aethelstan some two decades before, perhaps indicates his desire to venerate his ancestral house of Cerdic during his reign. The concerted efforts towards a reliable round Halfpenny coinage further point to this, with the remarkable 'Restoration' of King Alfred's 'Londonia Monogram' issue, judging by the higher weight standards, about the time of his wider coinage reform post-Coronation in AD 973.
The overlaying of different types across various regions is further compounded by the apparent interchangeability of the latinised VV and Old English 'wynn' when communicating a 'W' in a moneyer's name, the mint signature of even the name of the King, who in the case of Eadwig is known in both forms. However in studying the important mint of Winchester, one unearths a distinct correlation between the spelling of these names and the phases of production within the context of the reign, ultimately aiding our understanding of the chronology of their production. EMC can identify only three moneyers with confidence to Winchester for the short reign of Eadwig. Interestingly all have styled him 'EADVVIG' rather than 'EADPIG' as seen on contemporary issues from north of the Thames basin. Frithumund and Manngod are evident from the inclusion of a VVIN mint signature, with Leofric assumed as the third given the findspot at single coin on Winchester Cathedral Green in 1964, and a moneyer of that name there during the reign of Eadgar. By the end of the latter's reign all coins of Winchester would be styled 'PINTONIA' or an abbreviation thereof. However a tight group of four moneyers, including Leofric, are known for striking coins at Winchester with the styling VVIN, VINT or VVIN CI. It is no coincidence that these coins almost all bear the short-lived 'REX TO BRI' styling in the obverse legend, suggesting both came into use soon after the accession of Eadgar on 1 October 959.
Contextually the accession of Eadgar from 'King of Mercia' to 'of all England' was an equivalent upgrade to that made by his half-uncle Aethelstan by AD 931. This would be a sufficient prompt to explain the redeployment of such a unique title, especially at an important mint previously under the control of his brother. Interestingly of these moneyers, Ælfsige, Leofric, Martin and Ragnulf, at least two would still be signing coins after the currency reform of AD 973. Given the timespan of only fourteen years between these two events, it is reasonable to conclude that they are the same individuals, or at the very least close relatives, who carried on the profession. Two further moneyers, Frithumund (of Eadwig fame) and Marscalc are known pre- and post-reform, so it would be no surprise to witness future additions to this admittedly small corpus being found bearing their name.
As no coin is yet known bearing the spelling 'VVIN C' [WIN CIVITAS - as per Margaret Gelling (2012), pp. 79-85] for the post-reform period, it is reasonable to interpret this spelling as a diagnostic feature of Eadgar's earlier coin issues. It would follow that this spelling was ultimately phased out during the 960s as a result of phonetic pronunciation of PINT(ONIA), alongside the cementing of the King's title as 'REX ANGLORVM' or a permutation thereof. Both Edward the Martyr and Aethelred II would continue to use this title unaltered until the latter's deposition in AD 1016. Consequently this would place our remarkable new coin early in Eadgar's reign, and given the direct parallel to the Eadwig example found in 2006, presumably exceptionally close to his actual accession. The weight standard of this new coin pegged around 9grns [complete], is much closer to the pre-reform Penny standard of circa 19grns; than it is to the post-reform issue of circa 23grns. Both the 'Exceptional types' and the Circumscription Cross types similarly accord with this standard, with the latter types bearing the REX AN(GLO) signatures suggestive of this 'transitional language' phase of production, like that borne out on Ælfsige of Winchester's coins that are initially signed 'VVINT' - 'REX ANGLO'; but latterly become 'PIA' - 'REX AN'. Intriguingly given the survival of at least seven specimens of the Londonia Monogram 'Restoration' types of Eadgar, some of which are recorded at 10.8 grains, it is possible that this production is more closely associated to the reform issues than previously ascribed, although as Pagan (pers. comms) rightfully notes: "This suggests to me that there would certainly seem to be three distinct groupings into which these coins fall, but the occurrence of the anomalous mint signature PINTONIA in the REX TO BRI grouping and the occurrence of VI, VVIN, etc. in the other groupings also suggests that the topic needs further research".
Whilst contextual cartulary documentation is famously doubtful; it is quite evident that the remodelling of the Winchester mint signature will be critical to our understanding of the phases of Eadgar's specie. Previous attribution of the REX TO BR signature at Chester has posited the dates of 961-963 (CTCE 288b), this new find could possibly stretch that back closer to the onset of his reign proper. The importance of the full comprehension of this two decade span of production will further unlock our appreciation of his concerted efforts towards the establishment of a regular round Halfpenny coinage in circulation; his veneration of the Wessex household and its achievements over the previous Century; and indeed ultimately the very coronation of Kings and Queens in a format that England has recognised and treasured ever since. In the pre-amble to King Charles III's own coronation, never before has Eadgar's crucial decree 'una mensura sicut apud Wincestram' seemed more apt.
In any case, the discovery of this second coin, comprehensively proves the since-doubted attribution made back in 1841 by Charles Roach Smith, for a coin exhibited by him at a meeting of the Numismatic Society of London on 23 December (cf. Lindsay, Heptarchy , pp. 89; and, Catalogue of the Museum of London Antiquities , pp. 108 - the latter recording that coin's accidental destruction]). This original find, since lamentably destroyed, was documented as having been found in the rubble of St Bartholomew's Church which had been demolished between August and October 1840 in reaction to the Royal Exchange Fire of 1838 and planned widening of Threadneedle Street. Contemporaries recorded the removal of the 'light and graceful church' in sombre tone. Edward John Carlos, writing in The Gentleman's Magazine, prophesied: "The apathy with which the removal of St Bartholomew's Church will be remembered and felt when perhaps the loss of this church will be found a trifle in comparison with the wholesale destruction to which, ere long, the churches of the metropolis may chance to be destined". , ,
Newspapers' were more matter of fact: 'The entire removal of the bodies and remains interred at St. Bartholomew's Church, by the Royal Exchange has just been effected; and amongst the last excavated were some bones and a portion of what was once a coffin, which former are supposed to be the relics of Miles Coverdale, the first English translator of the Bible which received the royal assent." In December, Toplis and Son, the auctioneers would sell off the 'valuable materials; chiefly stone, leaded roofs, marble pavement and ironwork' relating to the Church. (The Globe, 2 October 1840)
Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000
|Spink > Auction 23104||Auction date: 31 March 2023|
|Lot number: 712|
Price realized: 85,000 GBP (Approx. 105,224 USD / 96,427 EUR) Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
NGC MS63 | *Top Pop* | Anne (1702-1714), "Swift's Petition for the British Copper Coinage to the Lord High Treasurer, Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford", A Medallic Gold Pattern for a Farthing, 1713, Commemorating the Historic Act of Union of England and Scotland, an extraordinary personal striking after John Croker and Sir Isaac Newton at the Royal Mint, c. 1738, before Arundell's confiscation and destruction of the dies at the Tower of London, ANNA • DEI • GRATIA • draped bust 'A' three-quarters left, with beaded hair, toothed border and linear circle, rev. en médaille, BRITANNIA • 1713 • The Queen personified as Britannia seated left on Globe, wearing loose drapery, holding oval shield inscribed with Cross of St. George and St. Andrew, spear resting beside, olive branch in right hand, double exergual line below, thicker inner line touching tops of legend, edge plain on a thin flan, 5.95g [92.0grns // 3 dwt 20 grns], 23.7mm., 12h (Snelling , Pl. 8, no. 5; Tyssen , 2743; Ruding  -; Till , no. 3; H W Henfrey, type E; Montagu 11 [Fourth Portion, lot 148] = Murdoch 884 = Huth 586 = Brigg = Hewitt 391 this coin; Peck [BNJ, 1958], Group 3, O4*/Rb, no. 22a; Peck 22 = BMC 751 this coin mentioned [cf. Pl. 16, J]; BM 1935.0401.8229 same obverse die; W&R 61 this coin), faint traces of doubling in legends highly reminiscent of Royal Mint Pattern Strikings for contemporary Hanoverian gold specie and the Cromwellian Half-Broads restruck by J S Tanner in 1738; nevertheless with faint cabinet friction and inconsequential marks to rim, otherwise splendidly lustrous with brilliance across gloriously original fields, a truly sublime auriferous canon by the celebrated 18th Century medallist John Croker, conceived by him at the behest of Jonathan Swift at the apogee of national patriotic fervour following the historic Act of Union of England and Scotland and Peace of Utrecht, all whilst the Royal Mint was under the Mastership of its most famous comptroller Sir Isaac Newton; an indisputably storied British numismatic rarity and much-like Thomas Simon's famous 1663 'Petition Crown' - prized from inception by connoisseurs and 'Ruding's vulgar collector' alike; resulting in at least one prison sentence! Of the highest rarity, especially in this metal with only two specimens known; the other permanently impounded in the British Museum collection. With a matchless pedigree and the indisputable 'Queen of Rarities' within this historically-lauded and prohibitively exclusive four-coin series; now returning to public auction for the first time in over 50 years; and thus an unprecedented opportunity for the metaverse-refined, globally-astute but still privately-minded cognoscente of today, in NGC 'St Helier' holder, righteously graded MS63 (Cert. #6769435-005).
The St. Helier Collection of English Gold Coins,
'A highly important collection of Patterns struck in Gold', Glendining, 13 April 1972, lot 391 - a pièce de plaisir, struck from somewhat rusty dies but brilliant proof surface, extremely rare - £620 [Spink for St. Helier],
Capt Vivian Hewitt, collection purchased en bloc by Spink, 1967,
M A Brigg [a.k.a. 'North Country Collector'], portion of collection purchased by Baldwin, by 1943,
R Huth, First Portion, Sotheby's, 4-7 April 1927, lot 586 - brilliant and very rare in gold - £29.0.0 [Seaby for Brigg],
J G Murdoch, Second Portion, Sotheby's, 8-13 June 1903, lot 883 - "a beautiful impression, very rare" [Pl. XIV] - £12.5.0 [Spink for Huth],
Montagu, Fourth Portion, Sotheby's, 15-17 July 1897, lot 148 - "Pattern Farthing, 1713, struck in gold, ANNA. DEI. GRATIA., draped bust of the Queen to left, wearing pearl fillet in hair, similar to bust on Pattern Halfpenny, rev. BRITANNIA 1713 (date in legend), Queen with attributes of Britannia seated to left, broad border on either side (11), extremely fine and rare - £15.0.0 [Spink for Murdoch]
"The Lord Treasurer quarrelled with me at Court for being four days without dining with him; so I dined there to-day, and he has at last fallen in with my project (as he calls it) of coining halfpence and farthings, with devices, like medals, in honour of the Queen, every year changing the device. I wish it may be done." Jonathan Swift, Letter LVIII to Mrs Rebecca Dingley, London, 4 January 1712/13, ,
Queen Anne's accession on 8 March 1702 witnessed a glut of copper coinage in the London economy, and guaranteed an almost permanent ban on the striking of new specie during her rule. This embargo was overseen by the new Master of the Mint, Isaac Newton, whose renown had grown ever since the publication of his 'Principia' on the three laws of motion in 1687. However his appointment as Warden to the Royal Mint came through his separate experimentation with alchemy, a skill that proved useful during the Great Recoinage in 1696. His tight comptrollership of the specific tolerances of each coin has forever after resulted in a contemporary specie marred by planchet adjustment marks - Newton's numismatic legacy was in effect a challenge to collectors to find a uniformly struck-up Williamite coin!
His elevation to Master on 25 December 1699 following the death of Thomas Neale saw him inherit an unassailable problem with the assaying of pure copper. Thus far the technology had proven beyond the horse-drawn capabilities of the 17th Century mint who could neither roll, nor properly test the blanks they could even produce. Therefore since April 1694, 700 tonnes of pre-made blanks were provided by Sir Joseph Herne, Sir Francis Parry, George Clark, Abel Slaney and Daniel Barton. In 1698, a petition by the merchants of Southwark bemoaned the abuses of these patentees for their evident production of base copper coin, and worse still, their flooding of the London market. This precipitated a one-year hiatus on further production from 24 June 1698. By final lapse of the contract in 1701, an extraordinary £137,200 of this copper coin had been struck, more than sufficient for the next decade of service to the British economy.
By 1712, however, the clamour for small specie had returned, and with it several petitions. The first published by Beardwell of Blackfriars in 1710, re-championed the cause of tin money in a circulated printed address: 'A humble and Seasonable Proposal to the Queen to raise Money without any Tax sufficient to rebuild her Royal Palace of White-Hall in Greater Magnificence than ever'. The imagined dialogue between an out-of-work coin-engineer; a shopkeeper; a market woman and a beggar extolled the virtues of a return to a 'small farthing, light and clean as silver that cannot be counterfeited without loss and immediate discovery.' Fanciful and unrealistic as that claim may have been at the time, these accounts are phenomenally enlightening. We hear of the Shopkeeper's son 'once being employed at Somers Key to make the Tin Farthings of King James that were cryed down as Popish imitations for being too heavy', which comes in sharp contrast to the fearful market woman who when asked 'pray let me see your farthings', is horrified to discover from the coin-engineer and shopkeeper that most of her money, which are actually halfpennies, are 'dull, nasty thick counterfeits'. But as the coin-engineer mourns, 'there is such a number of foul cast Half-pence that in 40 shillings, you must take 20 shillings in those Half-pence, or else you can receive no money.' The coin engineer then regails us of his past work at mints in Holland and France before employment at the Tower which eventually took him with James' army to Ireland following the Glorious Revolution in 1688. His evident adeptness with the edging technology (castaing machines) to prevent counterfeiting reveals his insider knowledge of William III's unfulfilled plans for a new tin coinage after 1695. This forms the basis for his appeal to Queen Anne in 1710, for which he produces the evidence of the market woman, who is 'forced to take Farthings about me, but are so heavy they tear out my pockets on the way home and [en]cumber me badly.' When pressed on whether the petition would be successful for the poorest, the engineer proposed: "Suppose the Queen should cause small Farthings as fine as silver to be coined, do you think they would then carry those?", the beggar chimes in: "O God bless Her Majesty, I think they would and she could not do a Greater Charity to the Poor, and all small Dealers, for then every body would carry more plenty of them in their Pockets."
The appeal however would ultimately fall on deaf ears, for Newton, since knighted for services to his Parliamentary constituency of the University of Cambridge in 1705, was pre-occupied only with a small coinage in copper that but for its seignorage, would have the intrinsic metal value equivalent to face. His incorrigible stance, driven by an ambition to reduce Mint production costs ultimately overlooked the essential need for tin-alloy in the specie to ensure the efficiency of the Mint's aged rolling mills. The few trials Newton did muster would all fail the only available test available 'by the hammer', a limited technology that would still be in use at the conversion to bronze coinage in 1860. Landing the ignominy of a failed Pyx in 1710 (later overturned on appeal), would suffer a similar fate with his few copper trials at the hands of copper-smith James Bertie. Denounced as 'coarse copper', the prepared planchets ultimately cracked under striking pressure leaving the wide-spread production of copper specie for Queen Anne all but abandoned. In April 1717, Newton finally relented and purchased new copper blanks for the production of George I's first 'dump issue' copper specie.
"I can calculate the movement of the celestial bodies, but not the madness of men" Newton famously quipped, and much like the South Sea Bubble that cost him some £20,000 in 1720, the coining of copper Farthings and Halfpennies would equally overwhelm him. However as Peck notes in his article for the BNJ, it is evident that at least some of the corpus of Halfpennies and Farthings survive from his own experiments. 'Termed Group 1 and 2', they comprise the double-headed issues and those showing signs of rust, but are clearly distinct from the Group 3 issues with new letter puncheons which are presumed to be the strikings cause by Mr Charles Bush of the Ordnance Office of the Tower of London after he obtained the 'dies for the Halfpenny' and caused some to be struck off before they were confiscated and destroyed by warrant of then Master of the Mint, Richard Arundell (1737-1745). As Peck notes, mysteriously few examples of the Halfpenny survive that can be so clearly attributed as 'restrikes', particularly as off-metal issues, although the clumsy repurposing of Halfcrown edge lettering with the regnal year 'DVODECIMO' opens the tantalising possibility that some may have been struck during the twelfth year of King George II (i.e. 1739), if not that of Queen Anne (1713).
The first mention of a copper coinage in the numismatic review of Queen Anne's reign comes from the observations of Stephen Martin Leake in his seminal publication: 'Nummi Britannici Historia: An Historical Account of the English Money', (W. Meadows, London, 1726, pp. 142): "There was likewise Half-pence and Farthings of two different kinds, struck Anno 1713, and 1714 of fine Copper, but there were so very few of these coin'd, that they are preserved as great rarities; on one side is represented her Majesty's Head, ANNA. DEI. GRATIA. on the Reverse Britannia, circumscribed BRITANNIA. 1713, the other of 1714 has the Date under Britannia." [sic]
This quite innocent notation about 'great rarities' would inadvertently give rise to an extraordinary folklore surrounding the issue that would endure nationwide for more than two centuries and constantly plague the numismatic discourse amongst servants of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. Such mythology would not be so readily accepted by another contemporary Richard Dodsley, however:
"So modern a Thing as a Queen Anne's Farthing has risen to the Dignity of a Curiosity, merely because there were but a few of them struck. Some industrious Artists, who would have the greatest Scruple of counterfeiting the current Coin of the Kingdom, have been so blinded by their Love of Virtu, as to imitate these rare Farthings, looking upon them solely as Curiosities. I just mention this for the Sake of those laborious Medallists; because the present Honourable Attorney-General, tho' a very Learned Man, is no Antiquarian, and might possibly be of the Opinion, that those admirable Copies would come under the Penalties of the Statute against Clipping and Coining.' The Museum or the Literary and Historical Register, Volume the First (London, 1746, pp. 47-48) [sic]
Dodsley's input came after the first public auction appearance of Queen Anne's Farthing at the dispersal of Leonard Wooddeson's cabinet, late member of the Board of Works, by Aaron Lambe in Pall Mall on 20 March 1733/34 [lots 34 and 90]. Intriguingly the second listing herein described her Farthing as being 'made of lead'. White metal or more correctly tin specie had of course been phased out by Act of Parliament on 17 April 1694 during the co-reign of her predecessors. Whilst examples of this coinage have been recorded as patterns 'struck in tin' (Archbishop Sharp, 1977, lot 274), it is tantalising to think that Dodsley's greatest fear may have been true inside two decades of the original production.
It is possible that Snelling's mention of Mr Bush's possession of the Halfpenny dies also extended to Farthing matrices, for the prevalence of restrikes in Gold and Silver extends across three Patterns for 1713, and one of 1714 and on multiple weight standards. Whilst the Halfpenny was conceived as an alleviation to the problem of 'weighty small change', a renewed farthing production would also serve an important purpose in the rumbling political debate about how best to commemorate Queen Anne's reign and her notable victories over the Spanish and French. Jonathan's Swift diverse petition championed these designs, as well as those heralding the Act of Union of England and Scotland in 1707, in his treatise to the 1st Earl of Oxford. Intriguingly it is also the Oxford family collection that affords us the earliest mention of a Queen Anne Farthing struck in gold and probably also the necessary 'smoking gun' to corroborate large swathes of Peck's hypothesis. , ,
At the sale of the 2nd Earl's collection in Christopher Cock's salerooms (18-23 March 1741/42), an example of 'Her Farthing, struck in Gold of weight 6 dwt 4 grns' featured as lot 172. Harley's personal assent to the coinage perhaps resulted in this memento being struck by Newton. However the date of sale does not entirely eradicate the possibility of this actually being a later restriking; especially as the youngest coin in the Oxford cabinet was a 1739 Halfcrown. Another early beneficiary of these exclusive gold Pattern strikings was the Honourable Bryan Fairfax, whose sale in 1751 included a further example of 'a pattern of her farthing, 1713 - 4dwt 2grns' curiously lotted alongside 'a ten shilling piece of Oliver - 3dwt 0grns'. It is inferred from this bizarre lotting practice, that Queen Anne's coin was actually conceived at the Royal Mint at the same time as the famous Tanner re-strikings of the Cromwellian Half-Broad. The dies for this latter coin, created from Simon's original puncheons, had been ordered in 1738 by Richard Arundell, then Master, for the purposes of 'gifts for his friends'. The penalty for illicit possession of dies under the 1696 Recoinage Act was high treason for Charles Bush. Arundell personally overseeing the production of such restrikings, including that in the cabinet of the Lord Chancellor's son is a far more conceivable notion. At Dr Richard Meade's dispersal in 1755, another remarkable 1713 Pattern appeared for the first time; the 'PAX MISSA PER ORBEM' issue, struck to commemorate the Peace of Utrecht. Traditionally referred to as one of the four Pattern Farthing designs, Matthew Prior's letter to Viscount Bolingbroke in May 1713 actually confirms this to be his own personal contest to the official 'Treaty of Utrecht' medal by John Croker, simply struck on a Farthing planchet but a heavier weight standard. By great fortune, an example of this in gold has also resurfaced in recent times, firstly at a public auction in Queensland (IAG Signature 96, 22-23 October 2022, lot 404 - AU$52,000); before returning to London with a favourable third-party grade and an optimistic six-figure re-sale estimate., ,
The most enduring mythology about the Queen Anne Farthing in the centuries since these seminal sales has been the extraordinary idea 'only three coins were produced before the die irreparably broke.' So infectious was this folklore, that it would be presented as incontestable evidence in a court of law; prompt a nationwide frenzy; and create widespread disappointment amongst beneficiaries left worthless heirlooms that had been preposterously overvalued. However like with the scoliotic discovery in King Richard III's spine, there appears to be a large grain of truth to this propagated falsehood. Whilst the surviving count of Queen Anne Farthings extends into three figures across all metals (gold, silver, copper, brass, tin and lead), the present corpus for gold strikings stands at just twelve known coins, of which at least half are impounded in National Institutions (British Museum = 5; Hunterian Museum = 1), with the remaining six largely untraced since the Hewitt dispersal (1972), that is of course until the re-emergence of the present example today. In the extensive, but perhaps not entirely exhaustive studies of Charles Wilson Peck, only two examples of the present type or 'first issue' have ever been recorded. The other specimen has been impounded in the British Museum since the Samuel Tyssen sale (April 1802, lot 2743). The remaining varieties have either three, if not four specimens extant. In any respect, the present coin is therefore not just unique to commerce, but also the rarest of the already prohibitively exclusive Queen Anne Pattern Farthing series in gold., ,
To date, only five individuals have ever achieved the monumental feat of owning all 'four types' of Queen Anne's Farthing in Gold:
Samuel Tyssen (1802)
John Gloag Murdoch (1903)
Reginald Huth (1927)
M A Brigg (1943)*
Captain Vivian Hewitt (1967)
*Although public sale records do not corroborate Brigg's claim, we have it on the good authority of Charles Wilson Peck.
Incredibly Hyman Montagu, the legendary 19th Century collector and author of 'The Copper, Tin, and Bronze Coinage of England' failed in the task. With the opportunity of two varieties appearing at auction in the same month for the first time in over half-a-century, it is beholden upon the nerves of today's connoisseur to rise to this immense challenge, particularly as this offering sits at the very top of the rarity tree.
Estimate: £20000 - £30000
|Noble Numismatics Pty Ltd > Auction 132||Auction date: 27 March 2023|
|Lot number: 3452|
Price realized: 120 AUD (Approx. 80 USD / 74 EUR) Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
China, Western Han Dynasty, (206 B.C.-25 A.D.), clay mould for bronze cash, in the name of Wu Zhu, (after 113 B.C.), 91x64x37mm size, (coin type Hartill 8.8). Very fine and rare.
Ex Artemide Aste, Asta 5E, lot 1371. With research.
Estimate: 200 AUD
|Spink > Auction 382||Auction date: 15 January 2023|
|Lot number: 178|
Price realized: Unsold
William III (1694-1702), 'Second Bust' Pattern Half-Guinea, 1696, struck in silver, in February or March 1696/7, Tower, by Henry Harris [?], GVLIELMVS • III • DEI • GRA, laureate bust 2 right, lock of hair across truncation, rev. MAG BR • FRA • ET • HIB • REX • 1696 • small crowned shields cruciform, emblem-adorned sceptres in angles, five strings to shapely harp, obliquely milled edge, 2.95g, 5h (cf. SCMB Sept. 1954, pp. 367 and COVER COIN; W&R -; Bull -), old scuff through the mouth and a tiny scratch to right of French shield, otherwise lightly toned, a pleasing very fine, the highest denomination extant for the short-lived 'Second Bust' of the Great Recoinage of 1696-97, not just in private hands but in institutions also, unknown prior to Rayner's discovery in 1954, UNIQUE, and of the greatest numismatic intrigue.
Baumhauer, Part 2, Sincona 75, 16 May 2022, lot 169
H E Manville, Spink 140, 16 November 1999, lot 616
Baldwin, by private treaty, May 1981
SCMB, September 1954, wherein illustrated on the cover:
THE SECOND BUST COINS OF WILLIAM III WITH REFERENCE TO AN UNPUBLISHED PATTERN HALF-GUINEA IN SILVER DATED 1696
By P. A. Rayner
There has been much controversy in the past concerning the coins of William III showing his portrait with the hair across the breast - the so-called second bust. Many numismatists believe them to be patterns, which, indeed, may be so in most cases.
There exist two distinct series of these pieces ; one with a broad head and thick curls, which I shall refer to as bust 2, and the other with a much narrower bust with very 'wiry' hair, and in higher relief, which I shall call bust 2a.
The coins with bust 2 consist of the following pieces:-
Crown, 1696 - National Collection (British Museum) : unique
Shilling, 1696 - Lord Hamilton of Dalzell (Spink 3, 21 February 1979, lot ???; Private Collection
Sixpence, 1696 - Extremely Rare [ESC, R5]
Sixpence, 1697 - Only Moderately Rare
In addition to the above, there has recently come to light a pattern half-guinea in silver, dated 1696, with an undraped bust of similar style to the other coins of this series. We have this piece for sale.
The coins with bust 2a comprise the following :
Crown, 1696, National Collection (British Museum) : unique
Halfcrown, 1696, Ditto (British Museum)
Sixpence, 1696, Ditto (British Museum)
There is also a punch and an obverse die for a half guinea in the Royal Mint Museum (cf. Hocking, pp. 15, no. 197a), which show a bust remarkably similar to the coins listed above : no coin is known from this die.
Considering first the sixpences of this reign, this denomination being the commonest on which the second bust is found, some tentative suggestion regarding the sequence in which the various types were struck may be made, and thus it may be possible to date the second bust coins to within a month or so.
It should be remembered here that the old style calendar was in use at this time, and any coins struck up to March 25th would bear the date 1696.
Of the sixpences of this reign, the obverse and reverse types are listed below:
A - First Bust
B - Second Bust [Bust 2]
C - Second Bust [Bust 2a]
D - Third Bust
i - Large Crowns, early harp
ii - Large Crowns, late harp
iii - Small crowns, late harp
The following combinations are found:
1695 - A/i
1696 - A/i [common] ; A/ii [rare] ; A/iii [very rare] ; B/iii [extremely rare] ; C/iii [unique]
1697 - A/iii [very common] ; A/ii [rare and only exists at provincial mints: Bristol, Chester and Exeter] ; B/iii [rare] ; D/ii [very common for Tower, scarce provincially] ; D/iii [common for Tower, rare provincially]
There also exists a 1696 Sixpence of York (Y) with obverse D and reverse i ; this is obviously a mule struck in 1697 when an old reverse die of 1696 was used in error.
The comparative rarity of these types after A/i, based on the numbers which have passed through my hands, or are shown in my records over a period of some eight years, raises some interesting points. These figures are shown in parenthesis in the table of comparative rarity. Broadly speaking, the rarest types of 1696 are the commonest of 1697, for example, type A/iii is definitely rare dated 1696, but it is the most common first bust coin dated 1697.
The figures for A/iii lead one to suppose that the reverse iii was prepared very late in 1696 O.S. It is significant that obverses B and C are found with this reverse only, therefore these obverses were also most probably prepared at the very close of 1696 O.S, possibly in February or March. Coins with bust 2a may well have been patterns for the issue of which coins with bust 2 constituted a tentative current coinage. Quite likely it was very soon decided to reject these latter also, and probably only a very few obverse dies were made - perhaps only one each for the Crown and Shilling.
I have seen three different obverse dies for the sixpence dated 1697, one of which was the same as that for the 1696 coin in the Parsons collection, but possibly more exist. One would expect a greater number of dies than for larger denominations, as the sixpence was much more in demand.
In 1697, these few obverses were probably used up, paired wth the type iii reverse, which was then in use at the Tower mint. It is most interesting to note that only reverse iii is known with the first bust obverse for this mint, dated 1697, and also that reverse ii, with large crowns, does not exist for Tower, and only occurs of the provincial mints Bristol, Chester and Exeter.
In this context we may rememeber that James Roettier was barred from engraving coinage dies from February 2nd 1696/7, and that prior to this he had prepared five hundred pairs of dies in 1696 for the Provincial mints. The earliest coins of the 1696 were of the type A/i, and there exist also, rarely, type A/ii. I suggest these latter pieces, only known of the Tower and Bristol mints, were struck from dies prepared from punches intended for type A/i coins, but with the substitution of a late harp punch. These harps are a main feature of the coinage of 1697 generally, and this seems to indicate that these pieces also were produced very late in 1696. As will be seen from the rarity type, they are rare. The A/ii coins of 1697 which, as I have previously mentioned, only exist of three provincial mints, and then only rarely, I suggest formed the remainder of the 500 pairs of dies made in 1696 by Roettier, or, at any rate, from his punches, with the addition of the late harp, as in the case of the 1696 A/ii pieces mentioned above. When these type ii reverses became reduced in numbers through wear and they would of course wear out more rapidly than the type A obverses with which they were used, type iii reverses would be supplied from the Tower.
This would explain the apparent substitution of reverses of types ii and iii in the provincial sixpences of 1697, and the relative rarity for this date of type A/ii as compared with type A/iii. The third bust coins must be a later issue than the first although they probably overlapped considerably.
The half-guineas present an exactly similar pattern to the sixpences, except that only one bust, with or without Elephant and Castle was used for the current coins.
The reverse types are as follows: -
i) Large crowns, early harp
ii) Large crowns, late harp
iii) Small crowns, late harp
These types occur as under:
1696 - i
1697 - iii
1698-1701 - ii
There is no overlap as in the case of the sixpences. It is interesting to note that all the 1697 pieces have a small crown, late harp reverses, as do the first bust Tower sixpences of this year. Here also we see a return to the large crown type, but in this case in 1698. As the unpublished second bust half-guinea in silver has a reverse iii, and is dated 1696, its position in the series must correspond to that of the 'bust 2' sixpence dated 1696, i.e. February of March 1696/7. The pattern bust 2a punch and obverse die in the Royal Mint were possibly also produced at approximately the same time, probably slightly earlier. Considering all the foregoing evidence it seems most probable that all these second bust coins were the work of Harris, or opne of his assistants, immediately following upon the disgrace of James Roettier in February 1696/7, and that these designs were abandoned in favour of Croker's third bust.
Since Rayner's observations, Mauice Bull has conducted further study on the development of the harps in the gold specie of William III, and has conclusively shown the adoption of a more shapely 'late harp' for the 1697 Half-Guinea coinage. EGC 433 records this currency issue and corroborates the use of five strings, rather than three of four of the 1696-dated coinage, exactly as depicted on the Pattern Half-Guinea now offered. This would further indicate the likelihood of Rayner's date-range hypothesis about the production of the second bust Patterns and currency-strikings under the engravership of Henry Harris after 2 February 1696/7.
Estimate: $4000 - $6000