Triple unite fails to sell in Nov. 18 auction

Lot was third offered by firm in two months
Published : 12/13/11
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The marquee lot offered by London auctioneer St. James’s Auctions in its Nov. 18 auction, a gold triple unite from England, failed to sell.

The auction realized £448,352 ($705,899 in U.S. funds), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.

The 1644 Charles I triple unite from the Oxford Mint was the third example offered by the firm in less than two months.

The triple unite, the largest gold coin ever struck in Britain (as measured by diameter, but not by weight or value), is one of the great rarities of the English hammered series. With a face value of 60 shillings (£3), the triple unite has a diameter of about 40 millimeters and weighs 421 grains, about .875 of an ounce.

These coins were issued during the English Civil War by two mints (Oxford and Shrewsbury). They show the king (Charles I) on the obverse, with the reverse featuring his declaration of September 1642, in which he promised “to uphold the Protestant religion, the Laws of England and the Liberty of Parliament.”

Charles I made his declaration at Wellington in Shropshire, according to Coins of England and the United Kingdom, published by Spink (and also called the Standard Catalogue of British Coins), 46th edition.

The pieces struck at Oxford are dated 1642, 1643 or 1644; one example each of the 1643 and 1644 coins was offered during a Sept. 27 St. James’s auction of British and Irish coins and medals.

The example in the Nov. 18 auction is “as struck” but exhibits some weakness in the design and a slightly off-center reverse. It had an estimate of £85,000 to £90,000 (about $135,786 to $143,774 U.S.).

The auction also featured the second part of the Christian C. Jones Collection of Romanian Coins and Medals.

All prices reflect the 20 percent buyer’s fee. A total of 510 lots from 762 offered, or 67 percent, sold.

The catalog may be viewed online at the firm’s website,, or at For more information, write to St. James’s Auctions at 43 Duke St., St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6DD, or telephone the firm at (011) 020 7930 7597.

Some additional highlights:

China, 18th century gold bar of 10 taels, three stamps on top and two on bottom, also with number 47271 on bottom, 365.20 grams, three assayers marks, sold with Aug. 4, 2011, assay report from Goldsmiths’ Company, which gives the fineness of the gold as .876, Good Very Fine, £16,800 ($26,450 U.S.).

England, circa 1609 to 1526 gold angel, Henry VIII, first coinage, Spink 2265, Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 63, £6,600 ($10,391 U.S.).

England, circa 1526 to 1544 gold halfcrown, Henry VIII, second coinage, Spink 2285, PCGS MS-64+, £8,400 ($13,225 U.S.).

Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1654 gold unite, Spink 3208, Good Very Fine, £8,400 ($13,225 U.S.).

Great Britain, 1826 gold £5, George IV, Proof, Spink 3797, “some light surface marks, otherwise Extremely Fine,” £16,800 ($26,450 U.S.).

Great Britain, 1830 pattern gold sovereign, William IV, Bare Head, Spink 3829B, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Proof 62 Ultra Cameo, “a few light marks, otherwise practically mint state,” £13,800 ($21,727 U.S.).

Great Britain, 1871 gold sovereign, Victoria, Young Head, Proof, Spink 3856, “a few light contact marks in front of face, otherwise brilliant, about mint state,” £5,280 ($8,313 U.S.).

Great Britain, 1994 pattern octagonal 50-penny coin, design is Spink 4351 “but the coin is struck on the reduced size flan used from 1997” (Spink 4354), “the only specimen that we have seen and is therefore extremely rare,” About Uncirculated, £624 ($982 U.S.).

India, 1828 silver medal, opening of the Bombay Mint, 64 millimeters, “possibly fewer than 12 known,” “lightly toned,” About Uncirculated, £4,560 ($7,179 U.S.).

Romania, 1922 gold 100-leu coin, Ferdinand I, 32.19 grams, Krause-Mishler M9 (Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler), “although coins of this type are dated 1922, they were in fact struck in 1928-1929 (at the Royal Mint in London),” EF, £2,640 ($4,157 U.S.). ■

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