1474-1504 The Gold of the Catolicos Reyes
2012 SOLD 450 K€ before fees
The excelentes existed as multiples, marked for the highest values by the required amount of 10s in Roman numerals:X for 10, XX for 20, XXXXX for 50. They are generally not dated, and it is difficult to distinguish between the excelentes of castellanos of the early reign and the later excelentes of ducados.
The Huntington collection, consisting of 38,000 coins from Spain and Spanish colonies, was sold in March 2012 by Sotheby's as a single lot according to the sealed bidding process, for which the price was not disclosed. It was acquired by a consortium of buyers including the auction house Jesús Vico, which organizes a first auction in Madrid on June 26.
The top star of the Huntington collection is not in this first sale. Weighing 140 grams, this presentation coin of 50excelentes displaying the crowned figure of the two sovereigns is the largest known gold coin of the fifteenth century.
Estimated € 450K, a coin of 10 excelentes for sale on June 26 is smaller, weighing 35 grams, but with a similar theme.It was minted in Segovia. The catalog indicates that only two coins of 10 excelentes have survived, of different modelsso that the offered piece, like the specimen of 50 excelentes, is unique in its kind.
It is illustrated on the article shared by ABC.
POST SALE COMMENT
This coin of 10 excelentes was not the most prestigious piece of the Huntington collection. Its price, €450K before fees, corresponding exactly to the estimate, is a very good result for a medieval coin.
1538 The Coinage of the New World
2014 SOLD for $ 590K including premium
The legendary silver coin of 8 reales was documented but nobody saw it until three units were found in the early 1990s in a shipwreck that occurred circa 1550.
This coin was a failure. Too difficult to manufacture, the 8 reales was stopped after a few weeks and had never been released to circulation. We know now that there was no other pieces from that coinage in the wreck and it is assumed that these coins were specimens sent to the Spanish imperial court.
They are indeed awkward with an irregular outline and traces of double strike. The engraving was however ambitious, with a beautiful coat of arms and the identification of the monarchs, Emperor Charles V and his mother Joan the Mad.
Importantly, the reverse bears the image of the Pillars of Hercules, symbol of the conquerors departing towards the immense ocean. Behind the columns, an oblique banner displays a part of the imperial motto. Later this banner will wrap the pillars, shaping the dollar sign as it is still used today.
Two of the three coins are in very good condition, having escaped corrosion despite the shipwreck. One of them is estimated over $ 500K, for sale in Orlando on November 6 by Daniel Frank Sedwick, lot 404 shared here on the Sixbid bidding platform. Sedwick specializes in the auction of numismatic treasures from shipwrecks.
This coin was also illustrated before sale by Artdaily.
1621 The Ducats of King Sigismund
2018 SOLD for $ 2.16M including premium
The sharpness of the strike on such a large item is exceptional for its time. The rim circle and the centering of the unit for sale are almost perfect : 69.4 x 69.1 cm. It is 4.9 mm thick and weighs 349.49 grams. Tiny hairlines subsequent from handling are inevitable because of the malleability of gold. The coin is signed I.I. and S.A. It could only be used for presentation.
No previous edition is comparable. The 100 ducats coin issued in 1629 for King Ferdinand of Hungary and Bohemia, later the Emperor Ferdinand III, is of similar design with the portrait of the monarch on one side and royal shields on the other.
The coin lists the titles of Sigismund III Vasa as King of Poland and Sweden and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia, Masuria, Samogitia and Livonia. The king is decorated with the Order of the Golden Fleece as a sign of allegiance to the Habsburgs.
Sigismund was a fervent Catholic born in a Protestant dynasty. He wanted to take over the throne of Sweden which he had lost for that reason in 1599 and was unpopular in Poland. At the beginning of the Thirty Years War, Poland was threatened with an invasion by the Turks but he did not participate directly in the resistance of the Khotyn Fortress in Moldavia against the Ottoman army in 1621. The conjunction of date of the 100 ducats coin with this heroic event is a mere coincidence or an opportunity.
Jacob Jacobson van Emden who signed with his Latinized initials I.I. was since 1616 the mint master in Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). The 100 ducats coin is a demonstration of his know-how which undoubtedly helped him to obtain from 1623 a direct or indirect responsibility over six other royal mints. The initials S.A. designate the engraver Samuel Ammon.
Exceedingly rare Poland commemorative 100 Dukat (349.49 grams) of Zygmunt III Wasa, celebrating 1621 victory over Ottomans, offered by CNG at 46th New York International Numismatic Convention, 10 January 2018, is one of the largest gold coins ever struck. https://t.co/I1Ad44EOqD pic.twitter.com/90dcByCj9A— Ancient Nomos (@ANAMCurator) December 8, 2017
1640 The Warin Gold
2019 SOLD for CHF 700K before fees
The circulation coins are the double-louis, the louis and the demi-louis. To launch this operation, coins of 10 louis, 8 louis and 4 louis are also released, in very small quantities. They enter into the category of 'pièces d'hommage' or 'pièces de plaisir'. They have not been documented in period and the only supposed use is at the king's gaming table. Such an operation will never be repeated and these coins are the most prestigious in the history of the French currency.
The cardinal de Richelieu, minister of Louis XIII, was the instigator of this reform. He took the opportunity to skilfully reduce the gold content from 0.958 to 0.917.
They display on one side the portrait of Louis XIII in profile and the date 1640. The bust is naked for the 4 and 8 louis and draped for the 10 louis. The other side shows the attributes of royalty, crowns, fleurs-de-lis, intertwined L's which form a cross, and the letter A which designates the Paris workshop.
An 8 louis weighing 53.68 g was sold for € 210K including premium by Rouillac on June 11, 2017. A 4 louis weighing 26.86 g was sold for € 290K including premium by Briscadieu on September 20, 2019.
On November 19 in Geneva, NGSA (Numismatica Genevensis) sells an example of the heaviest French gold coin, a 10 louis weighing 67.49 g, with a starting bid of CHF 500K, lot 657 here linked on the Biddr auction platform.
1652 The First Coins of New England
2014 SOLD 650 K$ including premium
In 1652, the government establishes a mint in Boston in charge of producing coins for the entire New England consisting in the colonies of Masathusets (spelling of the time), Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven. Three denominations are created: 3, 6 and 12 pence, the latter being also a shilling.
This social progress responds primarily to a need for regulation. The new coins are worth less than their face value when they leave the American territory, and no effort is made to make them pleasant.
The faces are pewter gray without any figure, just punched on one side by the letters NE for New England and on the other side by the monetary value in Roman numerals. The very first emission has deep marks. In the next issues the punching is soft.
This very rudimentary coinage is in regression against the currencies issued two millennia earlier, and calls to counterfeiting. Very soon a figure is created. The first one is a willow, followed by other trees from 1660.
Coins with deep punching have certainly been made in the first year of the plant. A shilling graded AU50 by PCGS was sold for $ 417K including premium by Heritage on 11 August 2010.
On May 16 in New York, Heritage sells the best known example of the 6 pence coin, graded AU58 by NGC, lot 30258 in the catalog. It comes from the Newman collection.
POST SALE COMMENT
This piece of history was sold for $ 650K including premium. It is in a remarkable condition for its category.
1663 Petition against Coin Clipping
2018 SOLD for $ 550K before fees
To replace hammering, the use of the mechanical press is tempting. For a long time its profitability is doubtful and the workers fearing for their employment oppose it with violence.
At the fall of King Charles I, an engineer from the Paris Mint named Pierre Blondeau is invited to install his machines at the Tower of London. Assisted by the English medalist Thomas Simon, he realizes a superb silver coin with the figure of Oliver Cromwell.
When the Stuart dynasty was restored in 1660, the problem of currency control remained crucial. In 1661 King Charles II decreed that the use of the screw press is mandatory for all his gold and silver coins. Blondeau returns to England. To compare between his competing Mint engravers Simon and the Roettier brothers, the king asks for silver pattern coins. In 1662 he chose Roettier.
Simon does not accept his defeat against a foreign engraver. The king's political preference for Roettier was obvious, but it must also be admitted that Simon's splendid relief was difficult to industrialize.
Meanwhile Blondeau develops a decisive invention that will finally end the clipping : the machine that hits the coin onto its circumference. In a vain hope that the king changes his decision, Simon realizes in 1663 two sets of the silver crown worth 5 shillings, with a text of supplication readably printed within the small width to demonstrate his know-how. These variants are identified by numismatists from the first word on the edge : Petition and Reddite. The Reddite's edge also includes the tiny figure of a sun rising from behind a cloud.
These pattern coins are extremely rare. One of them considered as the finest surviving Reddite was sold for £ 396K including premium by Spink on March 27, 2014. On January 10 in New York, Goldberg sells two Simon coins. Lot 1103 is a Petition graded SP 53 by PCGS, estimated $ 550K. It is illustrated in the post shared by DailyMail. Lot 1104 is a Reddite graded SP 35 by PCGS, estimated $ 95K.
Petition SP 53 SOLD for $ 550K before fees
Reddite SP 35 Unsold
1703 Vigo Five guineas
2019 SOLD for $ 1.08M including premium by Baldwin's of Saint James's
narrated in 2020
Gold is rare in England. In 1703 the metal seized in Vigo is used to mint coins with the effigy of Queen Anne. The largest denomination is the five guineas, a superb achievement weighing more than 40 grams. Its total population is estimated at 20 units in two basic variants differentiated by the position of the word VIGO centered under the bust or offset under the shoulder. The VIGO beneath shoulder is the rarer.
On February 9, 2016, St. James's sold for £ 275K before fees an example in very good condition of the VIGO beneath shoulder, graded AU55 by PCGS.
Another VIGO beneath shoulder was sold for £ 280K including premium by Boningtons on Novemner 16, 2016. It had just been resurfaced by the consignor from a "pirate treasure" that had been constituted for him many years earlier by his grandfather who had been a lover of travels and coins.
On January 13, 2019, Baldwin's of Saint James's, successor to St. James's, sold another example for $ 1.08M including premium. This VIGO beneath shoulder has a slightly different position of the VIGO hallmark. It may have been a prototype whose irregular letter height in that mark was not acceptable for the rest of the production. This coin is graded Mint State 62 by PCGS and is perfectly centered.
1740 The Ioann Ruble
2012 SOLD 3.6 MCHF before fees by Sincona
narrated in 2020
The Saint-Petersburg mint prepares the coins for the future reign. The pattern silver rubles dated 1740 bear on the obverse the Cyrillic inscription Ioann III by the grace of God Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia. On the same side, the traditional imperial effigy is replaced by a large 3 interlaced with two I. The reverse is illustrated with the two-headed eagle with its attributes : the crown, the shield, the scepter and the orb.
This design is immediately obsolete : the child's reign name is not Ioann III but Ivan VI. Only five units have been identified. One of them was sold for CHF 3.6M before fees by Sincona on October 9, 2012, lot 227 here linked on the NumisBids auction platform. The location of the other four has not been established.
In 1741 the child grew up and the new rubles are minted with his effigy at one year old. His father overthrew the regent. The Russians fear the return of the German influence and overthrow the child and his mother by a coup d'état in December 1741. Ivan VI's coins are redeemed and their possession is made illegal.
Another difficult succession will generate in 1825 the other top rarity of the Romanov numismatics, the pattern ruble prepared in the name and effigy of Grand Duke Constantine before he formally refuses to ascend the throne. Eight units are known.
1741 The 20 Ducat Gold Coin of Basel
2014 SOLD for CHF 800K before fees
On November 25 in Geneva, Numismatica Genevensis sells a presentation specimen of this coin in a stunning condition, lot 581 estimated CHF 500K. Here is the link to the site of the auction house.
The engraving is very sharp and very attractive, with Basel symbols including a spectacular basilisk with outspread wings, the coat of arms of the city and the arms of the eight associated municipalities, plus a cornucopia. One side displays a wide panoramic view of Basel with the houses over the Rhine, a bridge and two boats.
The only other surviving copy, in poorer condition, is preserved in the museum of Zurich.
I invite you to play the video shared by Numismatica Genevensis showing the great quality of carving of the Basel cityscape :
1755 Gold 20 roubles coin of Elizabeth
2008 SOLD for £ 1.86M including premium by St. James's
1766 The Early Maturity of Catherine the Great
2012 SOLD 800 K$ before fees
The first coins depicting the new Empress showed the face of a young woman.
This ambitious certainly wished offering another figure of herself to better enforce her authority. In 1763, her enthroned portrait by Rokotov flatters the maturity of this 34 year old woman, already imposing and ruling.
In 1766, a new rouble is prepared, with a bust profiled to the right which may have been inspired by the painting of Rokotov. The engraving is very sharp compared to the regular Russian coinage of the time. A few specimens are made, but this pattern coin will never be released.
One of three known pieces is estimated $ 1M, for sale by Baldwin's in New York on January 5. The estimate may seem high, but Russian art collectors often outbid for imperial rarities.
This coin is illustrated in the release shared by CoinWeek. The other side shows a two-headed eagle. I complete the iconography of this article by inviting you to view on Wikipedia the portrait of Catherine the Great by Rokotov.
POST SALE COMMENT
I feared that this lot would be difficult to sell. Although it remained below the estimate, I consider that the price, $ 800K before fees, is excellent.