World Coins

Silver 3-guilder pattern Dutch king Schulman auction

An 1817 silver 3-guilder pattern is one of 12 examples struck but was rejected because the king did not like the design.

Images courtesy of Schulman, B.V.

When monarchs are involved, designing a coin can sometimes be tricky.

One example of this delicate balance between artistry and servitude is an 1817 silver 3-guilder pattern, which sold Nov. 20 during Schulman B.V.’s auction. The coin realized €36,000 (about $38,519 U.S.), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee. Only 12 pieces were made. 

The coin is based on a design by French artist Auguste Francois Michaut.

In 1815, Michaut was appointed as medalist to the court by King William I of Holland and in late 1816 he was commissioned to create the king’s bust for 10-, 3- and half-guilder coins. 

He sent his design for the 3-guilder coin, struck on a tin test planchet on June 22, but the portrait was not well-received by the minister to the king because it did not accurately resemble the king. 

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Michaut prepared a new design, with a larger head, after being allowed to observe the king walk through Haarlem. A few pieces with this design were struck on unadjusted planchets, according to Tim Poelman, a representative of Schulman. (Unadjusted planchets had not been modified to ensure a struck coin would have a proper weight.) These pieces were struck on a screw press, which was not the normal method of manufacture for the time.

Another group of patterns was made on Oct. 15, “with just one rotating motion” on adjusted planchets, of the proper weight, according to Poelman. However, the king’s hair was called “too wavy” and Michaut’s lack of skill in hardening and polishing the dies created hairlines in the pieces.

The example offered in the Nov. 20 auction is one of the Oct. 15 types, according to Poelman.

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