World Coins

Spink auctions rare gold penny in London sale

A newly discovered gold penny of Henry III, the eighth known and only fourth available in private hands, sold at auction Jan. 23 in London.

Images courtesy of Spink.

A rare gold penny, found in September in a field in the United Kingdom, has recently sold at auction.

The gold penny of 20 pence, issued for Henry III (who reigned from 1216 to 1272), realized £648,000 ($878,234 U.S.), including the 20% buyer’s fee, compared to an estimate of £200,000 to £400,000 ($271,060 to $542,120 U.S.).

The coin was found near Hemyock, in Devon, on Sept. 26, 2021, and was reported to the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The coin was authorized Aug. 16, 1257, in London by Willem FitzOtto of Gloucester, the king’s goldsmith.

The auction house called the discovery of this coin, one of four in private hands and eight known total, “of international significance as a brand new die pairing ... a monument in the Medieval series and the most significant contribution to English Numismatics since the discovery of the Double-Leopard, sold at Spink in 2006.”

This newly discovered Henry III gold penny is the first addition to the known quantities since the accession of the Conte specimen to the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) in 2001.

According to Spink, this new coin confirms the proposed production or die sequence that Sir John Evans posited in 1900, as it provides a second example of Evans “first obverse die” in the series of four known dies.

The coins were apparently an emergency issue.

“This coin survives as a remarkable and exceedingly rare contemporary witness to Henry’s true self-image and his clear affinity with the iconography of England’s first patron Saint Edward the Confessor and serves as an ultimate demonstration of Henry’s influence on and personalisation of the final design,” the auction house said.

First NFT sale

The auction is also notable for including the first numismatic NFT (Non-Fungible Token) sold by an international auction house, according to Spink.

This specially commissioned NTF digitally recreates the moment when the Hemyock soil was finally removed after the coin was buried some 765 years to unearth the most important single coin find made in Britain for over a decade, and the first time a new coin of this type has been placed in the archaeological record for almost 260 years.

The NFT realized £18,000 ($24,395 U.S.), including the 20% buyer’s fee. The sale will support two charities chosen by the vendor and Spink, specifically The Rodney Cook Memorial Fund and the Himal Foundation.

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