World Coins

Scottish Hat coin leads Davissons auction ending Mar. 20

Scotland’s famous gold Hat coin, denominated 80 shillings, is one of the highlights of Davissons’ March 20 auction.

Images courtesy of Davissons Ltd.

An example of one of Scotland’s most famous coin types, a gold 80-shilling Hat coin, is one of the highlights of Davissons’ auction No. 43, closing March 20.

The 1592-dated example of this three-year type coin represents the first coins of Scotland to be struck in .916 fine (22-karat) gold, the same fineness used for all gold coins of Scotland and that of Great Britain ever since.

The denomination was equal to £4, then a very large sum. The coins were created so that a consistent, high-denomination piece of money of precious metal content could be used to buy back an array of older coins of a confusing variety of values, many of which had been compromised through clipping, shaving, and other damage.

The Hat coin stood nearly alone as a gold coin in circulation (only the one-year type Thistle Noble was spared), until it too passed into the numismatic night.

All about the design

The obverse of the short-lived coin features a right-facing bust of James VI wearing a tall hat, with a thistle to the left of the bust. The inscription translates to “James the Sixth, by the Grace of God, King of Scots.”

The reverse depicts a standing crowned lion holding a scepter with “Jehovah” written in Hebrew letters above it. The Latin inscription translates to “Thee alone do I fear.”

This example of the coin has a provenance dating back to a 1949 auction from Sotheby’s and more recently was part of a March 29, 2006, auction by Spink, where it realized the equivalent of about $20,000.

In Near Extremely Fine, with some reverse scratches, the auction house has assigned a pre-sale estimate of $30,000.

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