Before the Earl of Leicester led the English campaign in support of
the Dutch Revolt from 1585 to 1587, he needed money to fund the expedition.
The striking of fine sovereigns (double nobles) and ryals (nobles)
was authorized in April 1584 to help finance the effort. But those
coins weren’t the only gold issues to show up in the Netherlands: An
imitation undated gold ryal of Elizabeth I from this period,
apparently made in Amsterdam, highlighted Schulman B.V.’s auction No.
355 on March 1 in Amsterdam. The Very Fine and extremely rare coin, as
assessed by the auction house, realized €62,000 ($75,728 U.S.),
including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.
“English Nobles and their imitations had long been accepted in the
Low Countries and the rather anachronistic, medieval appearance of the
ryal was designed to fit this circulating medium,” according to the
auction house. “Some 3,000 pieces were struck between May 1584 and the
end of January 1587, a tiny figure when compared with approximately
100,000 angels produced by the Royal Mint during the same period.”
The imitation, like the coin it mimics, shows the queen standing in
a ship, holding sword and arms, a rose at her side and flag at stern.
The reverse shows a floriated cross, rose in center, and crowned leopards.
The denomination represents one of the last coins struck in the
medieval design styled with full Lombardic lettering. The Latin
legends translate as “Elizabeth by the grace of God, Queen of England,
France and Ireland,” and on the reverse “But Jesus, passing through
the midst of them, went His way,” taken from the Bible.
The imitations were not, of course, sanctioned by the queen, and
Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester, was sent as governor general
to confiscate the coins and equipment used in their production.
The coin’s rarity means that “the likelihood that this coin will be
offered again is extremely small,” according to the firm.
Connect with Coin World:
up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on
us on Twitter