World Coins

Gaming counters feature the monarchs of England

36 gaming counters, three duplicates, and their silver box are offered in a London auction lot June 12. Made circa 1632, the pieces show monarchs of England.

Coin images courtesy of Baldwin’s of St. James’s Auctions.

Gaming counters have a long history of use for gambling and card play, and have been made from all sorts of utilitarian objects in the past. 

Though many such pieces are rather austere, sometimes designs can be more elaborate.

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A set of gaming counters doubling as commemorative medals that honor early monarchs of England appears in a June 12 auction from Baldwin’s of St. James’s in London.

The silver counters are accompanied by a cylindrical silver counter box, all decorated in detail. The items were all apparently made circa 1632 in the workshops of Simon and Willem de Passe, during the reign of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.

The counters, a set of 36 individual pieces and three duplicates, are contained in the box, which has an open, or fretwork, design and a lid depicting Charles’s crowned bust facing right, in a design inspired by one from Thomas Rawlins. Scrolls appear at either side.

On the sides of the cylinder, two panels each show a human-headed griffin amid scrolls. The base of the little box features a bust of Henrietta Maria, facing left, her hair tied back, within a scrolled border.

The counters feature obverse engravings of monarchs beginning with Edward the Confessor, most depicted as standing figures, and reverses with the ruler’s coat of arms, details of the reign, and place of burial.

The counter box measures 29.5 millimeters tall and 31 millimeters wide, and is generally in very good order, though with repairs to the base that are original to the period of issue, the firm said. 

The counters measure 27 millimeters in diameter and most are in Fine to Very Fine condition, with a few better, according to the auction company. 

The complete list of the rulers depicted in the set is available at the firm’s website, in the lot description for the sale.

The set and box have an estimate of £2,000 to £3,500 ($2,534 to $4,434 U.S.).

For more details of the lot or the rest of the auction, visit the firm’s website

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