The third and final part of the Bentley Collection of gold
sovereign coins is slated for auction May 8 in London.
A.H. Baldwin & Son calls the collection “the most spectacular
and comprehensive assemblage of British gold Sovereigns.”
The final auction will offer 307 lots of coins from the Royal Mint
in London. Highlighting the auction is the 1819 gold sovereign of
George III, the key date of the London sovereigns issued for
circulation, with maybe eight known examples in private hands,
according to Steve Hill of Baldwin’s.
Records indicate that 3,574 examples of the coin were struck that
year, with the public preference for bank notes at the time in England
likely to have kept demand low, according to Baldwin’s. Most of the
coins are believed to have been removed from circulation by tourists,
explaining why so few are known today, according to Baldwin’s.
The sovereign, which traces its history to 1489 as a denomination,
in modern times was introduced in 1817 following the Coinage Act of
1816. It did not replace bank notes as the popular medium of payment
until certain restrictions were removed by the Bank of England from
1820 to 1823, according to the auction firm.
The rarity of the 1819 coin was recognized as early as 1829, when
the Bank of England coordinated a survey with the Royal Mint to test
the metal in coins then in circulation and found just two circulated
1819 examples in its holdings, according to Baldwin’s. All of the gold
sovereigns struck that year were reportedly made from gold brought to
the Royal Mint for conversion from bullion or mined gold into coins.
Six examples of the 1819 coin have been sold publicly, most since
Oct. 5, 1998, when the piece now in the Bentley Collection was sold by
Sotheby’s for £55,000 including buyer’s fee.
A seventh example was seen (by the Royal Mint, and not at auction)
in 1974 but has not been seen since, and an example reportedly struck
in Proof was part of the famed John G. Murdoch Collection, which was
sold in 1903. The so-called Proof example last surfaced in a 1939
auction; its Proof status cannot be confirmed from the only image
known, a 1905 photograph.
No private institutions — including the Royal Mint — appear to
have an example, according to Baldwin’s.
The Bentley Collection coin is graded About Extremely Fine by the
auction house and, according to Baldwin’s, is the finest example of
the 1819 gold sovereign by far (one other approaches Very Fine, with
most examples around Poor to Fair or Fine condition). The Bentley coin
has an estimate of £150,000 to £200,000 (about $228,732 to $304,970 U.S.).
Another highlight offers even greater rarity, at an estimated
price far less than the 1819 sovereign.
The Proof 1830 gold sovereign of George IV was discovered,
confirmed by the Royal Mint and sold for the first time publicly in
2005 in a Dix Noonan Webb auction in London, where Baldwin’s parent
company, Noble Investments, bought it on behalf of the owner of the
The coin features a design engraved by William Wyon after Francis
Chantrey’s model, with the head of the king facing left on the
obverse. Features distinct to the coin, thus setting it apart from
other Proof 1830 examples, are a milled edge (rather than plain) and,
on the reverse, eight hearts in the Hanoverian arms (rather seven
hearts). When it was sold in 2005, the consignor reportedly had owned
it since the 1960s.
Unique in private hands, it is toned and has a few marks but is
“as struck.” It has an estimate of £25,000 to £30,000 ($38,116 to
The May 8 offering of part three of the Bentley Collection occurs
during three days of auctions in London, from May 7 to 9.
The sale catalog is posted at www.baldwin.co.uk.
A limited edition catalog combining all three auctions, together
with prices realized and corrections, will be offered after the third sale.
The first auction, conducted May 8, 2012, realized £899,346 (about
$1,452,600 in U.S. funds). Part two, sold Sept. 27, realized
£2,226,104 (about $3.6 million in U.S. funds). ■