World Coins

Polish gold rarity re-enters market in London auction

A rare 1614 gold Polish 5-ducat coin of Danzig sold in Morton & Eden’s Nov. 5 auction for the equivalent of $85,745 U.S.

Images courtesy of Morton & Eden.

A Polish gold coin rarity last offered publicly in a 2008 New York City auction has again been sold.

The 1614 gold donative 5-ducat coin realized £66,000 ($85,745), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee, in Morton & Eden’s Nov. 4 and 5 auction in London. It had an estimate of £40,000 ($52,470 U.S.)

The coin was issued for Sigismund III Vasa, who appears on the obverse of the coin with a crowned and cuirassed bust, wearing ruff and collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Interestingly, the obverse omits the title “King of Sweden,” which was claimed by and fought for by this Swedish-born Catholic monarch to the great disadvantage of Poland.

The reverse of the coin shows the arms of the city of Danzig with supporters, the date repeated twice with Mint master’s initials S – A (representing Samuel Ammon).

The coin measures 42 millimeters in diameter and weighs 17.45 grams, or slightly wider than (but about half the weight of) an American Eagle silver dollar.

A coin fit for a king

According to Count Emeric Hutten-Czapski, in Catalogue de la Collection des Medailles et Monnaies Polonaises, these coins were celebration pieces, used as donatives during the state visits of the King of Poland to the Free City.

Though issued in multiple sizes, the 1-, 5- and 10-ducat pieces are the most “common,” though even those are rare. King Sigismund issued gold coins weighing as much as 100 ducats, including one of two known 1621 examples that set a record of $1,380,000, including buyer’s fee, in the same 2008 auction that offered this smaller, earlier example.

This coin has a stellar provenance, dating back to the John H. Clapp Collection, specifically to when in 1942 Stack’s acquired the piece. The Clapp holdings would later become part of the Louis Eliasberg Collection.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries was the auctioneer Jan. 14, 2008, offering it as part of the Kroisos Collection, where it had an estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 (its price realized was unavailable from company archives).

The auction firm designated the condition of this coin in the 2020 auction as Good Extremely Fine.

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