Coin News

Volume 40, Number 11, November 2003

Going around again

Volume 40, Number 11, November 2003

JUST as we all thought that auctions couldn’t get any bigger or better, and that all the good items were safely tucked away in famous collections all around the world, Spink announce their November sale! Over the past year or so we have seen the auction houses of the world dispersing some of the most important properties. At the top of the tree, of course, was the sale of the fabled United States 1933 20 dollar gold “Double Eagle” in July last year. Sold on behalf of Stephen Fenton of our own UK’s Knightsbridge Coins, in conjunction with the US Government, for the earth-shattering sum of $7.5 million (yes, million) this coin surely must maintain the record for the world’s most valuable coin. For the full story of the coin see the April 2002 edition of COIN NEWS. Prior to this the record had been $4.1 million paid for the legendary 1804 silver dollar in 1999. Both of these sales had been held in America: the 1933 Double Eagle in New York by Stack’s in Association with Sotheby’s (the coin had a de-luxe catalogue all to itself and took just 10 minutes to sell!). The 1804 dollar was also sold in America, by Bowers & Merena. In the UK we had the Baltimore sixpence which realised £32,200 and the “Archbishop Laud” gold medal which sold for £24,250 (both Morton & Eden, November 2002), the Scottish Mary and Henry Darnley 1565 ryal selling for £97,750 and a testoon of 1553, £27,025 (Spink, November 2002). In December we had the 1937 Edward VIII pattern threepence at DNW selling for £18,400. Then, just as the dust was settling we had the fabulous “Slaney” collection (Spink, May 2003) which just re-wrote the record books for most classic English coins: the famous Charles II “Petition” crown by Thomas Simon made a remarkable £138,000; the Exeter Mint 1642 halfcrown realised an incredible £40,250; the Edward VI 1551 crown sold for an amazing £41,400 and so on until we really thought that there could be no more quality coins left to sell. But we were wrong . . . . Every reputable auction house in the world seems to be benefiting from the current (dare we say it?) boom in coins and every sale just continues to get bigger and better than the one before! Although I must say that it was a bit of a shock when the catalogue for this year’s American Numismatic Association Convention auction dropped on (almost through) my desk. Offering some 3,000 plus lots, it weighed in at no less than 3 kilogrammes and cost an absolute fortune to post. Interestingly it was accompanied by a glimpse of the future—two CDs of the whole catalogue, complete with a picture of almost every lot. No doubt attracted by the wonderful results achieved by the Slaney sale, now Spink have announced that in their November sale they will be offering another example of the “Petition” crown! Once again, history in the making—when were two examples of one of our most famous coins offered at auction in the same year? Not content with this coup, Spink will be offering an example of the equally important “Reddite” crown as well as specimen strikings of the same coin in pewter, silver and lead in the same sale. The beautiful “Reddite” crown is housed in its wonderful silver box which is engraved with its provenance stretching back through many of the most famous collections. In addition to being a treasure in its own right, the box makes fascinating reading, with names like “Brice”, Montague”, “Willis”, “Rhodes”, etc., etc.—all names that are synonymous with their great collections. This one item on its own made me realise, more than all the descriptions in all the auctioneers’ catalogues that I see every week, that coins really are ours for only a short time and then . . . they go round again . . . what a rewarding and fascinating hobby this is.

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