Press release from Dix Noonan Webb, international coins and medals specialists:
extremely rare pattern £5 gold coin that was designed as George III
lay dying in 1820 and effectively became a commemorative piece for the
king is expected to sell for £200,000 to £250,000 ($310,731 to
$388,356 U.S.) at an auction held by Dix Noonan Webb in London on
Sept. 16, 2015.
25 of the coins are believed to have been minted, some of which were
given to museums and institutions, while others went to some of the
most influential figures of the time. The magnificent coins — the last
[until Queen Elizabeth II, as Victoria had only the 1839 £5 gold coin,
very early in her reign] to bear the head of a monarch who had been on
the British throne for 60 years — rarely appear on the market. This
example is being sold by a lady collector.
coin is something very special,” said Christopher Webb, head of the
coins department at Dix Noonan Webb. “It is a wonderful example of the
coin engraver’s art. But it also marks the end of the reign of George
III which had seen the loss of the American colonies, the French
Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon and the birth of the
Industrial Revolution. Here beauty combines with history.”
pattern coin — one produced to evaluate a proposed design but not
approved for general release — emerged from the relationship between
William Wellesley Pole, Master of the Mint from 1814 to 1823, and the
Italian Benedetto Pistrucci, his leading engraver, who came to England
Wyon junior, the chief engraver at the Mint, died in 1817 but
Pistrucci was barred from formally taking over the post because he was
a foreigner. Pole got around this rule by leaving the job nominally
vacant, paying Pistrucci £500 a year and giving him the use of the
chief engraver’s official residence at the Mint. It was an arrangement
that caused some resentment.
large gold coins had been issued for circulation in England since
1754, before George III had come to the throne, and in December 1819,
perhaps realizing that the king’s health was rapidly declining, Pole
instructed Pistrucci to prepare dies.
workmen at the Royal Mint labored through the night to finish them in
time, the dies were not completed when George III died at Windsor at
8:38 p.m. on Jan. 29, 1820.
the king dead, the gold coins could not be minted for general
circulation. Instead, a small number — thought to be 25 although there
may have been 26 — were struck, effectively as posthumous
commemorative pieces. Six went to institutions such as the Royal Mint,
the Bank of England and the British Museum, while eight were given to
Royal Mint officials.
remainder were acquired by influential figures such as the Marquis of
Salisbury, and coin collectors such as the south London brewer Robert
Barclay and the museum curator Edward Hawkins. Whether the Marquis of
Salisbury received one specimen or two is uncertain — hence the debate
over whether there are 25 or 26 — but it is more probably the former.
Whatever the figure, the 1820 pattern £5 gold coin remains one of the
rarest British coins.
learn more about the auction, visit the firm’s website.
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