A large collection of gold sovereigns is entering the marketplace through A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd.
In May the firm will auction the Hemisphere Collection of British Gold Sovereigns, the fourth auction of sovereign coins by the London auctioneers in two years. The three-part Bentley Collection of British Gold Sovereigns was sold in 2012 and 2013.
The Hemisphere Collection spans 525 years and 15 monarchs, represents seven mints and offers 394 sovereigns, from the earliest hammered examples to modern milled pieces.
Modern milled highlights include a 1937 Edward VIII gold sovereign and an example of the Proof 1953 Elizabeth II gold sovereign.
Other highlights include one of the earliest examples of the sovereign, from some 500 years ago, and an example of its pivotal design change nearly 200 years ago.
The Hemisphere Collection was formed over 10 years, beginning in 2003. The consignor’s fascination with the history of the sovereign has culminated in the only private collection known to the auction house that contains examples of every monarch for the sovereign denomination, according to Steve Hill, director of British coins at Baldwin’s.
“We felt 2014 was the year to expand on the success of last year’s sale of The Bentley Collection,” Hill said.
The Hemisphere Collection tracks the sovereign from its inception in 1494 to today and, unlike the Bentley Collection, offers both handmade hammered and milled (machine-made) coinage “to give the fullest outline of the sovereigns’ history, offering collectors of both hammered and milled sovereigns an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate the denomination together,” Hill said.
In 1936, Edward VIII ascended to the throne following the death of his father, George V. However, Edward VIII famously abdicated his position just 326 days after his accession, so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
His then-non-traditional marriage plans fit a pattern for Edward VIII's short reign – casting aside tradition. Tradition called for coinage portraits to alternate in direction with the change of each reign, but Edward VIII would not have it. Edward VIII preferred that a left-facing portrait be used, although it would mean his profile would face the same direction as his father's face appears on George V coins.