The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 34, August 21, 2016, Article 31


Part III of the famed collection of Lord Stewartby will be sold by Spink in London next month. Here is their press release for the sale. -Editor

Earlier in the year Spink had the pleasure of selling parts 1 and 2 of Lord Stewartby's vast collection, and the time has come to sell the third. The collection, being offered across five sales, is one of the most extensive and important collections of English coins to come on the market in recent times and the catalogues alone will become works of reference in their own right. On the 26th September 2016, Spink's London auction room will see the third instalment, 152 lots made up of the most astonishing gold coins (and even a leopard) from between the reigns of Edward III and George III.

For those unfamiliar with Lord Stewartby's career as a coin collector, he is Honorary Keeper of Mediaeval Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and developed an early interest in coin collecting. His passion was sparked when in the ill-lit streets of war-torn Barnet, Ian Stewart, as he was then, noticed a copper coin in a jar on the counter of a grocer's shop with two heads on it and recognised it as being from the reign of William & Mary. And thus began his lifelong interest in, and contribution to, numismatics.

The very first lot in this sale is the much-anticipated Edward III Leopard of Florin (third coinage, first period) with the iconic crowned leopard walking left, bearing banner with the arms of England and France on the obverse.

Spink Stewartby III Lot 893
Lot 893, estimated: £4,000-5,000

A denomination of the greatest historical importance, only four examples of the leopard survived (all from different pairs of dies). What is most curious however, is that nearly five hundred years elapsed between the time when these coins were in circulation and the date when an example was actually seen by an antiquary, and that during all this period the proclamation and indenture relating to their striking and currency were extant.

The Proclamation authorising the currency of the Florin and its parts has been known for four centuries and is still extant. It is in Norman French, and is given by Sir John Evans in 'The First Gold Coins of England' Numismatic Chronicle, Third Series, Vol. XX pp. 218-251 (1900)

Lord Stewartby notes 'The designs of the three new denominations introduced in January 1344 are among the most attractive of any in the whole of the English coinage. They can fairly stand comparison with the magnificent gold coins of France and Flanders at this high point in the flowering of Gothic art. The leopard is a splendid coin. On the epitaph in Westminster Abbey Edward III is described as invictus pardus, and the lion, known heraldically as a leopard, was already a powerful symbol of the English crown'.

Spink do not always believe in saving the best till last, but in this case there is a fantastic item, the star of the show even, towards the end of the sale: lot 1018, a James I (1603 - 25) Rosa-Ryal of the third coinage bearing a fantastically sharp image of the king seated on throne holding orb and sceptre. It is a handsome example, almost extremely fine and very rare in this condition.

Spink Stewartby III Lot 1018
Lot 1018, estimated: £15,000-20,000

Lord Stewartby has written extensively on the subject for more than fifty years. As is well-known, his first love was, and remains, the coinage of Scotland up to the reign of Charles II and his first book, The Scottish Coinage, was published in 1955. This was revised in 1967 and is currently under further revision. In 2009, after some twelve years in writing, he published English Coins 1180-1551, which was described by one reviewer as 'nothing short of a masterpiece' and is available from Spink.

For more information about the sale or book enquiries, please contact Phil Skingley:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4045 | Email:

To read the complete article, see:
Leopards Can’t Change Their Spots, but England Can Change its Coinage (,-but-england-can-change-its-coinage.aspx/?id=coins&year=2016)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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