Baldwins Final Auction of Historic Collection of British Gold Sovereigns
Baldwin’s are delighted to present the third and final part of this historic collection, due to be offered for sale by public auction on the 8 May in London. It will draw to a close the sale of the most spectacular and comprehensive assemblage of British gold Sovereigns.
Part three will contain 307 lots of the London Royal Mint issues not already offered. Each example is described in as much detail as possible in the same vein as the previous two parts. After the final part has been sold a limited edition Collectors catalogue will be produced containing all three parts together with prices realised and any corrections made.
Lot 941, undoubtedly the highlight and the most valuable coin in this part of the sale is the George III 1819 Sovereign by Benedetto Pistrucci. The key date of the London series had a very low calendar mintage (3,574) and there are fewer than ten known examples in private hands. The preference of the public at that time was for spending and saving with banknotes instead of gold. It is suggested that most of the new sovereigns of 1817 found their way overseas with tourists wanting to spend freely on the continent and the subsequent demand therefore diminishing into the 1818 issue and beyond.
Once restrictions on payment of gold were removed by the Bank of England from 1820-23 the Sovereign only then became more firmly established and took over as the payment medium from banknotes.
The Bentley Collection coin is the finest example by more than a whole British grading step and has not been on the market for nearly 15 years. The coin was last offered at public auction as lot 286 in Sotheby’s, London on 15 October 1998 where it sold for £55,000 including premium. It carries an estimate of £150,000 – 200,000 in this sale. There are many other extremely rare issues of currency, pattern and proof coins from the inception of the Sovereign as a prototype in 1816 right through to the decimal period with the final coin dating to 1974.
Elsewhere in the collection are two further high-value George III sovereigns. Lots 940 and 957, an 1816 gold pattern sovereign engraved by Thomas Wyon Jnr and an 1818 Gold Proof Sovereign, engraved by Benedetto Pistrucci are both estimated at £15,000 – 20,000.
Lot 957, an 1830 George IV, Proof Sovereign, engraved by William Wyon after Francis Chantrey’s model, depicts the head of the King facing left on the obverse and, on the reverse, carries eight hearts in the Hanoverian Arms like the currency pieces, as opposed to the seven heart semee plain edge piece published in part one of the Bentley Collection for the very first time.
This particular coin was only discovered, confirmed by the Royal Mint, and sold for the first time publicly in 2005 at a London sale where Baldwin’s parent company, Noble Investments (UK) PLC, bought it on behalf of the owner of the Bentley collection.
The coin was unknown to Wilson and Rasmussen and it was reported that the vendor at the auction had owned it since the 1960’s when it was purchased from a coin dealer. Unique in private hands and preserved in the best of quality this is one of the key pieces of George IV in the collection.
Part three of the Bentley Collection will be sold during a three day Baldwin’s auction extravaganza which will see Part one of The David Fore Collection of British Indian coins and The Horus Collection of Islamic coins go under the hammer. The sales will be held between 7-9 May in London and will be closely followed by part two of the David Fore Collection on the 31st May. Catalogues will be available online at www.baldwin .co.uk in the five weeks prior to the events.
George III (1760-1820)
Gold Sovereign, 1819, by Benedetto Pistrucci, laureate head right, coarse hair, date below, descending colon after BRITANNIAR: legend GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: rev struck with inverted die axis, St George slaying dragon right with broken lance, groundline with BP incuse to left, all within horizontally ruled garter with buckle, W W P incuse on sides of buckle, garter motto HONI . SOIT . QUI . MAL . Y . PENSE . no upper left serif to I of HONI, raised rim both sides, edge, milled, weight 7.97g (Marsh 3 R6 this coin illustrated plate 3; M.C.E. 466; S.3785). Light red tone, lightly hairlined with a few tiny spots and flecks, about extremely fine and the finest known specimen extant, the key date to the entire series of British Sovereigns minted by the Royal Mint, UK, of highest rarity.
ex Sotheby, 15th October 1998, lot 286, where it sold for £55,000 including premium.
Calendar year mintage 3,574.
The classic rarity of the London series, the Bentley Collection specimen is the finest known in private ownership by a full British grading step. All other known specimens are around poor to fair or fine condition with only one other approaching very fine. There are fewer than ten specimens in private hands, and the purported proof version (if correctly identified as such) is unknown to modern numismatists (Murdoch 194=WR199) unseen for over 100 years since the Murdoch sale.
George III (1760-1820)
Gold Pattern Sovereign, 1816, engraved by Thomas Wyon Jnr. after Pistrucci’s model, laureate head right, with ties at back, four leaves at top of laurel wreath that consists of 13 leaves, toothed border both sides, legend GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA no punctuation rev inverted die axis, crowned square shield of arms, quartered with the arms of Hanover as an escutcheon, five strings to Irish harp, crown with eleven jewels on left arch, twelve on right arch, central crown upright with parallel vertical lines of jewels, six to left and seven to right, date 18 16 below arms, legend commences at bottom left, BRITTANIARUM REX FID: DEF: with colon stops, edge, plain, weight 9.67g, diameter 23mm (WR 187 R6 this coin; Montagu 538; Murdoch 181; Douglas-Morris 125; Selig 1167 this coin). Quite hairlined with some tiny blemishes, otherwise practically as struck and of the highest rarity, the plate coin in the Wilson and Rasmussen publication.
ex J G Brooker, milled gold collection, sold privately to Spink and Son Ltd. c.1970
Herman Selig Collection part II, Coins of George III, Spink Auction 131, 2nd March 1999, lot 1167
The key features of this early pattern are Wyon’s George III portrait as used and adopted for the silver Shilling, the 13 leaf wreath with four leaves at the top, five strings to the Irish harp, and the crown on shield with 11/12 pearl arrangement with a 6/7 arrangement on the central vertical.
George III (1760-1820)
Gold Proof Sovereign, 1818, engraved by Benedetto Pistrucci, first laureate head right, coarse hair, laurel wreath of 10 leaves, date below, ascending colon after BRITANNIAR, with no lower right serif to first I, no upper serifs to last four letters, lettering clear of raised rim, legend GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: I of King’s name missing lower right serif, rev struck with inverted die axis, St George on horseback slaying dragon right with broken lance, helmet with flowing streamer, ground-line with BP incuse to left, all within horizontally ruled garter with buckle, W W P incuse on sides of buckle, garter motto HONI. SOIT. QUI. MAL. Y. PENSE. I of HONI missing its top left serif, raised rim both sides, edge, milled, weight 7.98g (WR 198 R6; Murdoch 193; Nobleman 49/50; Douglas-Morris 142; S.3785A). Tiny pinhead sized black spot on nape of neck and on temple, some hairlines, otherwise brilliant as struck and extremely rare.
ex Property of gentleman, Spink Auction 117, 19th November 1997, lot 1961
One of the key features of the design of this proof as adopted and engraved for currency by Pistrucci are the wreath of 10 leaves and the date below the bust, coupled of course with St George slaying the dragon. Some of the letters in the legend lack serifs no doubt due to blockages or faulty letter punches with corner serifs broken off being employed. A discussion about these was highlighted in “a note on varieties” in the introduction of part one of the Bentley Collection.
Gold Pattern Sovereign, 1837, engraved by William Wyon, small young head left, hair bound with two plain fillets, thinly defined ponytail hair with some dis-jointing, wispy lock of hair from head to ponytail halfway down, W.W. incuse on truncation, date below slightly double struck, rosette either side, fine toothed border and high raised rim both sides, VICTORIA DEI GRATIA more widely spaced from 8 to 4 o’clock, rev struck with inverted die axis, engraved by Jean Baptiste Merlen, crowned quartered narrow shield of arms within laurel wreath tied with bow below shield, twelve pearls on each arch of crown, four pearls vertically arranged on central upright, nine pellets visible on ermine below jewel band, laurel wreath each side consists of 30 leaves per side and terminates in three leaves at top, six harp strings in Irish arms, left string emanates from back of female figure, emblems below, rose at centre, thistle to left, shamrock to right, small rosette either side, BRITA! NNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF: edge, plain, weight, 7.71g, diameter 21.8mm (WR 298 R6; Montagu 1565; Murdoch 500; Douglas-Morris 200). Lightly toned with light hairlines, tiny rim imperfection on reverse, otherwise good extremely fine and extremely rare.
For a narrative on the initial pattern and currency Sovereign of Victoria’s reign see Bentley Collection part one lots 33-35 and preamble.
This is considered to be the second obverse for the proposed pattern Sovereign for young Queen Victoria for which she granted William Wyon multiple portrait sittings.
With a history dating back to 1872 Baldwin’s is one of the largest and longest established Numismatic dealers and auction houses in the world. Our dedicated team of specialists have over 300 years combined experience covering all areas of numismatics including English, Ancient and Foreign coins, military and commemorative medals, tokens, books and banknotes.
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Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium. Images are available upon request and all catalogues are available to view online at www.baldwin.co.uk
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