World Coins

Unofficial British pattern in Stack’s Bowers auction

An unofficial pattern £5 from 1966 is offered in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Jan. 12 and 13 auction in New York City.

Images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries

In 1966, two men made a proposal to the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer for a silver £5 coin and a gold £25 coin.

These men, R. G. Hunt and A. M. Foley, created unofficial silver patterns bearing the design they proposed for the two denominations.

An example of their pattern coins is offered Jan. 12 in Stack’s Bowers’ auction during the New York International Numismatic Convention.

The obverse of the patterns carries a joint bust of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The reverse displays a dramatically rendered design with the figure of Britannia depicted as riding in a biga driven by a pair of rearing horses, shield in hand, brandishing a trio of thunderbolts above her head.

Their proposal was never acted upon.

While the decision to move to a decimal currency came in 1966, with the official switch in 1971, a £5 denomination would not be introduced until 1990. Even then, it was for commemorative coins only, in place of the 25-pence commemorative crowns issued prior to that.

Condition, rarity

The 1966 pattern in the Stack’s auction exhibits “original and unmolested” surfaces, though a small strikethrough of a thread is present on the cheek of Elizabeth II.

This example was also evidently struck at least twice, with one of the strikes having occurred at a slight rotation; evidence of this double-strike is apparent on either side of the coin.

Graded Proof-66 by Professional Coin Grading Service, the coin has a pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.

Conflicting auction house reports suggest a mintage of either 20 or 100 pieces for the pattern. Whatever the rarity, at least two other examples of this pattern sold at auction in 2023.

A heavily toned example bearing a deep scratch realizing a hammer price of £2,300 ($2,930 U.S.) in Tennants’ Aug. 9 auction.

Another example, Prooflike and “virtually mint state” according to Noonans, sold in that firm’s Sept. 19 sale, where it realized a hammer price of £4,400 ($5,451 U.S.) against a pre-sale estimate of £1,500 to £2,000.

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