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British Coins

British Coins

Item Description:

Elizabeth I, first issue, ‘fine’ sovereign, mm. lis (1559-60), queen enthroned holding orb and sceptre, portcullis without chains at feet, tressure broken by back of throne, pellet decoration on throne back and pillars, ELIZABETH D G ANG FRA Z HIB REGINA, two pellets after REGINA, rev. shield of arms on Tudor rose, ADNO FACTV EST ISTV Z EST MIRA IN OCVL NRIS, pellet or double pellet stops, wt. 15.11gms. (S.2511; N.1978; Schneider 729, same rev. die; Brown & Comber A1), small edge crack between F and R of FRA, otherwise very fine with an excellent portrait, this issue extremely rare
*ex A. Magnaguti, P & P Santamaria (Rome), 5 October 1959, lot 187
Spink Numismatic Circular, December, 1972, no. 11566
Spink Auction (168) ‘Property of a Lady’, 15 April 2004, lot 152
The first issue sovereigns of Elizabeth I, with mintmark lis and the reading Z for ET, are extremely rare. They are struck from three obverse dies (B&C A2 with one pellet after REGINA [2 dies], and B&C A1 and A3 with two pellets after REGINA [1 die]), and three reverse dies (B&C A1 reading MIRA; B&C A2 reading MIRABI and NRIS, and B&C A3 reading MIRABI and NRI). It would seem that only one other example has appeared at auction in the last forty years and it is possible that as few as seven exist in total (4 B&C A1; 1 B&C A2(i) [Ryan 268]; 1 B&C A2(ii)/1 [Schneider 729]; and 1 B&C A3 [BM]). A type A1 sold for £79,000 in CNG’s Clearwater sale in September 2013, this was the Lockett (1948) coin and it previously sold in Spink Auction 208, 2 June 2011 for £67,000.
Introduced during her grandfather’s reign, that of Henry VII, the sovereign as a denomination was initially valued at 20 shillings; mintage was small, and most such coins subsequently perished by melting. Value was increased to 22s. 6d during his second issue but had remained at 20 shillings for the first issue of Henry VIII. It declined again to 20 shillings for the short-lived issue of Henry VIII’s Third Coinage. All of those issues are very rare today, in part due to much later meltings of hammered coins but very much so because of the drastic fluctuations of the intrinsic values of all of Henry VIII’s later coins. Her father’s infamous, profligate spending—on war but especially on his own pleasures and finery—left the kingdom on the verge of bankruptcy. The state of the money remained desolate during the short reigns of Henry’s son and his eldest daughter. Only when his daughter by Anne Boleyn came to power and initiated firm reform did the national money revert to a high quality, although it had begun to improve at the end of Edward VI’s time. Thus we see in this marvellous ‘fine’ sovereign a much higher gold quality (.994 fine) and an increase in the sovereign’s value to 30 shillings. Intended by its symbolism as well as its fineness, it became an imposing piece of money. Familiar at court, it was also meant to compete with Europe’s largest gold coins, furthering English trade. The dies used to make these coins were massive, and must have been a challenge to engrave. Strikings were inconsistently fine, and difficult, resulting in many coins that were cracked when minted. No collars were used, meaning that flans were usually far from round, often ragged. And yet, despite being fashioned using primitive tools, these are magnificent coins, among the finest produced during the English Renaissance. All too soon they would disappear forever as a type.
Introduced during her grandfather’s reign, that of Henry VII, the sovereign as a denomination was initially valued at 20 shillings; mintage was small, and most such coins subsequently perished by melting. Value was increased to 22s. 6d during his second issue but had remained at 20 shillings for the first issue of Henry VIII. It declined again to 20 shillings for the short-lived issue of Henry VIII’s Third Coinage. All of those issues are very rare today, in part due to much later meltings of hammered coins but very much so because of the drastic fluctuations of the intrinsic values of all of Henry VIII’s later coins. Her father’s infamous, profligate spending—on war but especially on his own pleasures and finery—left the kingdom on the verge of bankruptcy. The state of the money remained desolate during the short reigns of Henry’s son and his eldest daughter. Only when his daughter by Anne Boleyn came to power and initiated firm reform did the national money revert to a high quality, although it had begun to improve at the end of Edward VI’s time. Thus we see in this marvellous ‘fine’ sovereign a much higher gold quality (.994 fine) and an increase in the sovereign’s value to 30 shillings. Intended by its symbolism as well as its fineness, it became an imposing piece of money. Familiar at court, it was also meant to compete with Europe’s largest gold coins, furthering English trade. The dies used to make these coins were massive, and must have been a challenge to engrave. Strikings were inconsistently fine, and difficult, resulting in many coins that were cracked when minted. No collars were used, meaning that flans were usually far from round, often ragged. And yet, despite being fashioned using primitive tools, these are magnificent coins, among the finest produced during the English Renaissance. All too soon they would disappear forever as a type.

AUCTION
£ 30,000.00 ( Low est. )

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