Pair of triple unites propels auction to nearly $2 million

Each realizes more than $250,000 in St. James’s Auctions sale No. 18
Published : 11/17/11
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A pair of gold triple unite coins of Great Britain pushed the St. James’s Auctions sale No. 18 on Sept. 27 to realize £1,281,708 ($1,985,700 in U.S. funds), including the buyer’s fee.

The largest gold coin ever struck in Britain (measured by diameter but not by weight or value), the triple unite of Charles I 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 (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 the St. James’s auction of British and Irish coins and medals in London.

The lower grade piece of the two examples, which is dated 1644 and was once part of the famed Virgil Brand Collection, is graded as “virtually Mint State.” It realized £180,000 (about $278,867 U.S.). The finer of the two examples offered in the auction is dated 1643; this coin, in “practically Mint State,” realized £162,000 (about $250,980 U.S.). Combined, the pair represented nearly 27 percent of the total realized in the auction.

The pair, combined with two offered in Dix Noonan Webb’s Sept. 28 auction brings the number of examples of the rarity offered in conjunction with the Coinex show to four. An additional triple unite is offered in the St. James’s Nov. 20 auction (see story at

A total of 549 lots from 588 offered (or 93.6 percent), were sold.

Prices reflect the 20 percent buyer’s fee, but do not include any value-added tax.

Write to St. James’s Auctions at 43 Duke St., St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6DD, telephone the firm at (011) 020 7930 7597, visit its web site at or email it at

Some additional highlights:

Alderney, Elizabeth II, 2006 kilogram gold £1,000, Friedberg 47 ( Gold Coins of the Worl d by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg), in fitted case of issue, Proof issue, graded Uncirculated in catalog, £33,840 ($52,427 U.S.).

England, Henry VIII, circa 1544 to 1547 gold half sovereign, third coinage, Tower Mint, Spink 2294 (Coins of England and the United Kingdom , published by Spink), “practically Extremely Fine,” £5,040 ($7,808 U.S.).

England, Edward VI, circa 1547 to 1549 gold sovereign, Tower Mint, Spink 2433, EF “or nearly so,” £21,600 ($33,464 U.S.).

England, Commonwealth, 1651 gold unite, given two grade descriptions, nearly Mint State by the catalogers and MS-63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., £16,200 ($25,098 U.S.).

England, Anne, 1703 silver halfcrown, TERTIO edge, Spink 3579, About EF, £6,240 ($9,667 U.S.).

England, Anne, 1706 gold 5-guinea coin, QVINTO edge, Spink 3566, “a few light surface marks, otherwise practically as struck,” £30,600 ($47,407 U.S.).

Great Britain, George I, 1726 silver halfcrown, D. TERTIO edge, Spink 3644, VF, £13,440 ($20,822 U.S.).

Great Britain, George II, 1741 gold 5-guinea coin, D. QVARTO edge, Spink 3663A, “practically as struck,” £19,200 ($29,746 U.S.).

Great Britain, George IV, 1823 silver halfcrown, first reverse, Spink 3807, About EF, £3,840 ($5,949 U.S.).

Great Britain, George IV, 1825 gold sovereign, Spink 3800, “practically Mint State,” NGC MS-62, £6,000 ($9,296 U.S.).

Great Britain, George IV, 1826 gold £5 coin, Spink 3797, Proof issue, Good EF, £27,600 ($42,760 U.S.).

Great Britain, William IV, 1831 gold £2, Bare Head, Spink 3828, Proof issue, “about Mint State,” £10,560 ($16,360 U.S.).

Great Britain, Victoria, 1841 silver halfcrown, Spink 3888, EF, £4,560 ($7,065 U.S.).

Great Britain, George VI, 1937 gold coronation medal, by Percy Metcalfe, “in original case of issue, “a few light hairlines otherwise practically Mint State,” £4,920 ($7,622 U.S.). ■

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