A collection of gold British sovereigns to offered at auction May 8 in London includes the only individual 1937 Proof Edward VIII sovereign available. It has a pre-sale estimate of £250,000 to £300,000 (about $413,309 to $495,971 U.S.).
Coinage designed in harmony with Edward VIII's preference was created, but, days before circulation production could begin, the few coins prepared were rendered moot by his abdication on Dec. 10, 1936. He was the first monarch to step down voluntarily. Edward and Simpson married soon after and Edward’s brother George became the next king of England.
A small number of examples of Edward VIII's coins, both individual pieces and sets, are known today. Thanks to the controversy and limited mintage, the 1937 Proof gold sovereign of Edward VII is a legendary coin of the highest rarity.
According to Baldwin’s, this is the sole example of the Edward VIII sovereign available individually. It was sold in 1981 by Spink in a private transaction. Spink sold it again in a 1984 auction of the Professor R.E. Gibson Collection, where it realized a hammer price of £40,000. It was later sold in a 2008 auction in Tokyo (price unavailable).
In this sale, the coin is estimated at £250,000 to £300,000 (about $413,309 to $495,971 U.S.).
When Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952 on the death of her father, no Proof set was issued, but a small number of Proof gold sovereigns were produced for national institutions to display publicly for the Coronation.
The Proof 1953 gold sovereign is probably the most valuable coin of the current queen, and is the second rarest of the 20th century Proof sovereign series.
The example in the Hemisphere Collection once was part of the collection at the National Museum of Wales, which sold its collection of sovereigns, with official permission, in 1990. The collection was sold in 2005 to dealer Mark Rasmussen, who then “broke” the collection, dispersing the individual components, according to Baldwin.
This is the second time the rarity has appeared individually at auction (another example, part of the Norweb Collection, was sold in 1985). The Hemisphere example is estimated at £250,000 to £300,000 (about $413,309 to $495,971 U.S.).
The British sovereign is familiar today as a bullion coin, but its origins date to 1489, following the long and bloody War of the Roses, when it was introduced as a political propaganda tool to emphasize the stability and power of Henry VII. It had an initial face value worth 20 shillings, but its value as currency changed over time.
An example of that first sovereign, struck circa 1502 to 1504 by hand (what collectors call “hammered” coinage), is also part of the Hemisphere Collection.