World Coins

Market Analysis: Una and the Lion

This gorgeous “Una and the Lion” 1839 £5 pattern struck in gold, graded Proof 63 Deep Cameo realized $336,000 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries on Jan. 12.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

An iconic gold coin with provenance of well-known collectors: that seems to be a fail-proof combination, and it was at Stack’s Bowers Galleries in January where a gold 1839 English “Una and the Lion” £5 pattern graded Proof 63 Deep Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service sold for $336,000. It was formerly in the collection of Baltimore financier Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. and features William Wyon’s design of Queen Victoria leading a lion.

The cataloger shares the story behind the design, from Edmund Spencer’s Renaissance-era epic poem “The Faerie Queen,” where, “Una is charged upon by a wild lion after becoming separated from her companion, but in the face of Una’s beauty and purity, the lion is instantly tamed, and thereafter accompanies her as a faithful protector.” Carefully produced in medallic high relief, it features bold contrast between the frosty devices and deeply mirrored fields, along with some mild hairlines consistent with the grade.

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