A rare example of a rare type of a famous English gold coin is coming
A 1703 gold 5-guinea coin of Queen Anne, struck from gold seized
during a naval victory against Spain, highlights St. James’s Auctions’
No. 35 sale, which is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Graded About Uncirculated 55 by Professional Coin Grading Service,
the gold coin carries an estimate of £300,000 to £350,000 (about
$439,630 to $512,902 U.S.).
The type is extremely rare, with fewer than 20 examples known struck
with the word VIGO below the bust of the queen to indicate the coin
was struck from gold seized after a victorious naval battle at Vigo
Bay off the coast of Spain.
However, according to the auction house owner Stephen Fenton, the
example he has for sale is a much rarer type, with the word VIGO
tucked more tightly under the shoulder than on other examples, one of
only about three known of this die variety.
The VIGO gold 5-guinea coin of Anne is regarded as one of the most
desirable coins in the entire English milled gold series.
The 1703 VIGO gold issues were intended for circulation and
comprised half guinea, guinea and 5-guinea pieces. In addition,
related silver coins were struck in crown, half-crown, shilling and
six-penny denominations in 1703. (Some 1702-dated shillings were also struck.)
Each of the coins has the usual obverse and reverse types
appropriate to its denomination but on the obverse of each
denomination, below Queen Anne’s bust, the word VIGO was added,
engraved into the die.
Some 4,500 pounds of silver that had been ornaments and plate
belonging to the Spanish and French officers, as well as 7 pounds 8
ounces of gold, were turned into the coins.
According to Michael Hodder, writing in the Jan. 10, 1994, issue of
Coin World, “The VIGO coins struck to commemorate the victory
also served as propaganda to persuade the well-to-do British public
that the war was both worthwhile and going well.”
The gold coins struck are all very scarce to very rare and would be
beyond the means of most collectors. The silver coins, however, were
struck in generally large numbers, as indicated by the amount of metal used.
The example in the Feb. 9 auction has “delightful reddish gold
toning and a bold, even strike,” according to the firm.
Fenton confirmed that this piece is not the example that he bought
for a client in 2012. That piece was graded Nearly Very Fine and sold
for £296,160 (about $476,871) in a Dec. 6, 2012, auction by Gorringes.