The much anticipated public auction of part two of the Bentley Collection was held by Baldwin’s in London on the 27th September. The auction contained one of the rarest Australian coins, the fabled George V 1920 Sydney mint gold sovereign.
Some voracious bidding between three ardent bidders culminated in the repatriation to Australia of this legendary coin. Pre-sale interest had fuelled hopes that this incredible piece would set a new world record, and it didn’t disappoint!
The atmosphere was buzzing as lot 736 from Baldwin’s auction 76 opened at £260,000 rising swiftly and ultimately selling for a jaw dropping £780,000 inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.
The Bentley Collection auction, part of a two-day, three auction spectacular from Baldwin’s, sold for an incredible £2.25 million (including Buyer’s Premium), cementing Baldwin’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading numismatic auction houses.
One of only three currency specimens ever to be publically sold, the last time this example of the 1920 S was sold was in 2006 for AU$582,500, when it set the then world record for the highest priced Australian coin. This particular coin was also sold over 20 years ago in 1979 when it fetched AU$4,250. Although it is speculated that more of these coins could exist undiscovered there are only 3 that are available on the open market, the fourth is currently housed in a museum.
The successful purchaser of the coin, well known numismatic dealer Bob Jaggard, was bidding on the phone with Baldwin’s specialist Steve Hill in the auction room. A heart stopping moment where Mr. Jaggard’s cordless phone line dropped out at £350,000 did not deter him as he went on to secure the coin.
Steve Hill, Baldwin’s British coin specialist and cataloguer of the Bentley Collection commented after the auction:
“We are absolutely overjoyed with today’s result, we hoped it would be a great day but it far exceeded all of our expectations. It was most pleasing to see the 1920 S breaking records again, as it did when one was last sold in the UK 20 years ago. “
Baldwin’s believe the price achieved for this magnificent coin is the new world record for a British Imperial gold sovereign; an Australian coin; a British Colonial coin; a legal tender British coin and a British auction record for a modern 20th century coin.
Elsewhere in the sale a number of other rare lots achieved fantastic results. Lot 625 an 1879 Victoria pattern sovereign is only one of two known specimens, the other belongs to the Melbourne mint collection. It is so rare that not even an illustration was included in the industry reference work, the Wilson Rasmussen publication. It explains why this exceptional coin sold for £48,000 (including Buyer’s Premium) against an estimate of £12-15,000.
As predicted, interest in the South African section of the collection saw prices soar. Lot 901, an extremely rare single shaft 1892 gold Pond was a particularly fine specimen and sold for £38,400 (including Buyer’s Premium) and was estimated at £20-25,000. Lot 927, a George V 1929 Pretoria mint proof sovereign was another item deemed excessively rare. This coin had never been recorded in any reference works and is therefore thought to be the only known example. The coin was estimated at £12-15,000 but fetched £52,800 (including Buyer’s Premium).
Ian Goldbart, Managing Director of Baldwin’s commented:
“After the astounding success of the Prospero Collection of ancient Greek coins earlier this year we were delighted to be able to offer at auction such a high calibre collection of British sovereigns. The results from the sale were truly outstanding and we are very much looking forward to selling part three next year.”
This is the second time Baldwin’s have achieved record breaking prices this year, setting new world records in both ancient and modern coinage. The final part of the Bentley Collection will be sold by Baldwin’s on the 7th May 2013 in London and included the rarest London mint Sovereign, dated 1819. There are only a handful known to exist and the Bentley example is by far the finest known specimen in private hands. Catalogues will be available around four weeks prior to the auction at www.baldwin.co.uk