The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 49, December 8, 2019, Article 20


As part of The New York Sale Auction XLVIII held at the upcoming New York International show, Sovereign Rarities is offering a quality selection of British coins. This press release provides several highlights of the sale. -Editor

The New York Sale
Auction XLVIII
14-16th January 2020

British Coins Wednesday 15th January 2020
The Neil Smith Collection of British Silver Coins – A
Collection of Portraits in Silver of the Kings and Queens of
England from Alfred the Great to Elizabeth II

57 British coins illustrate the history of the British Monarchy in the Neil Smith Collection to be offered for sale by auction by the New York Sale Group on the evening of the 15th January 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

New York based businessman Neil Smith, originally from Cheshire UK, put together this impressive collection of the largest silver portrait coins of the Kings and Queens of England over the last twenty years; and unusually one of the earliest purchases was the most valuable and rarest coin in the collection the Edward VIII silver proof Crown dated 1937.

1937 Edward VIII silver Proof Crown obverse 1937 Edward VIII silver Proof Crown reverse

Edward VIII (1936) silver Proof Crown 1937 Estimate $150,000

The reign of Edward VIII who famously abdicated his throne for the American divorcee he loved, Wallis Warfield Simpson, did not produce any portrait coinage for circulation. The plans and proposals had been long in gestation as the King insisted on facing left like his Father rather than adhering to the centuries old tradition of facing the opposite direction to the predecessor. The coinage was about to reach fruition when the King abdicated on the 10th December 1936 and all that was produced were six proof sets of his proposed coinage.

Four complete sets are institutionalised today in the Royal Collection, British Museum and two in the Royal Mint. One complete set is in the private hands of the Tyrant Collection arguably the most valuable coin collection ever formed. The sixth set is the only one to have been separated and the component coins are the only examples of his portrait British coins available individually. Therefore, this represents an unrivalled opportunity as it did once for Mr Smith in the year 2000 to bid for and perhaps end up owning the largest silver portrait coin of the King who became the Duke of Windsor.

Looking at the collection chronologically, every one of the 57 coins has an interesting story to tell whether from point of view of the history of the monarch behind the issue, the circumstances or method in which they were struck, the amazing quality of the surviving coin, the history of the previous ownership, or perhaps more than one of these factors coupled together.

Alfred the Great silver penny obverse Alfred the Great silver penny reverse

Alfred the Great (871-899) silver Penny with Londinia monogram Estimate $12,500

The collection starts with an amazing portrait silver Penny of King Alfred the Great (871-899) with his diademed portrait facing right, ALFRED REX in bold characters around and the "Londinia" Monogram on the reverse side, one of the most desirable designs of his coinage. The collection progresses onward with a series of impressive portrait pennies of the Anglo-Saxons into the Normans and Medieval period until the reign of King Edward I.

Edward I silver groat obverse Edward I silver groat reverse

Edward I (1272-1307) silver Groat of Fourpence Estimate $15,000

One of the most spectacular designs of the English Medieval Series is the large silver Groat of Fourpence first issued during the reign of King Edward I (1272-1307) when a major new coinage initiative was introduced in 1279. Issued for a number of years in this reign, the denomination was not issued by his successor and only had a more successful launch during the reign of Edward III. An endearing design the surviving Edward I portrait Groats usually found use later as brooches or badges and were often gilt. The example in the Smith Collection does not seem to have suffered from any such rigours and is consequently perhaps the best example available to private collectors.

Henry VII silver testoon obverse Henry VII silver testoon reverse

Henry VII (1485-1509) silver Testoon of One Shilling Estimate $25,000

A true life-like profile portrait, the brand-new largest denomination toward the end of the reign of King Henry VII was that of the Testoon of One Shilling face value at Twelve Pence. Issued in the Renaissance period the artistic style in which the portrait was rendered by a master engraver thought to be Alexander de Brugsal, the example herewith is of the earliest type without a numeral after the King's name. Always a highly coveted piece issued at the dawn of true-life numismatic portraits under the Tudors, today such coins are rarely offered for sale giving an unrivalled opportunity to bidders.

Henry VIII silver testoon obverse Henry VIII silver testoon reverse

Henry VIII (1509-47) silver Testoon of One Shilling Estimate $15,000

A wonderful depiction of Tudor King Henry VIII in the twilight of his years appears in the typical "Holbein" style upon the silver Testoon of his final coinage, the largest and most impressive coin portrait of Henry. As the issue progressed the King was secretly debasing the coinage, though this example is one of the earlier issued in better silver with his Kingly number given in Roman numerals after his name. The full bloom Tudor rose on the reverse is perfectly rendered in the striking and the coin has a provenance of ownership that stretches back to the first half of the 19th Century with the famed collectors of the past such as Pomfret, Gibbs, Richardson, Murdoch and Hilton-Price having once owned this coin.

1553 Mary Tudor shilling of Ireland obverse 1553 Mary Tudor shilling of Ireland reverse

Mary Tudor (1553-54) silver Shilling of Ireland 1553 Estimate $7,500

As the largest numismatic bust portrait of Mary Tudor exists in the Irish coinage upon her Shilling the Neil Smith Collection diversifies here to possess an example of the Queen coupled with the Irish harp on the reverse. Dated in Roman numerals in the legend the coin is perhaps one of the best examples that can be found of this rare coinage and has a provenance stretching back over 60 years.

1623 James I Heavy Weight silver Sixpence obverse 1623 James I Heavy Weight silver Sixpence reverse

James I (1603-25) Heavy Weight silver Sixpence Dated 1623 Estimate $5,000

The Neil Smith Collection diversifies again in the reign of James I as the larger portrait upon the shilling is not represented for once. This is because a superb smaller portrait upon the extremely rare heavy weight Sixpence, was available to Mr Smith from the famed Shuttlewood Collection nearly twenty years ago. Only four such "piedfort" Sixpences are in private ownership and this one is dated 1623 and is the best quality survivor of the four pieces. Reasons for striking such thicker flan pieces are not known but it can perhaps be assumed such a piece was ear marked for special presentation.

Charles I Pattern Crown obverse Charles I Pattern Crown reverse

Charles I (1625-49) Pattern Crown sized silver Portrait Presentation Piece Estimate $15,000

This enigmatic Pattern silver coin, undated, designed and engraved by Nicholas Briot as his distinct style and character set of lettering show, the coin is the same diameter as but not as heavy as the crown. Perhaps a presentation piece to show two different designs for the obverse of a crown, the coin is full of artistic merit and one of only a handful known. The provenance is impeccable stretching back nearly 200 years and once owned by such numismatic luminaries as Higgs, Cuff, Wigan, Young, Bieber, Murdoch, Wakley, Clarke, Lingford, Thorpe and Brooker.

Charles II hammered Halfcrown obverse Charles II hammered Halfcrown reverse

Charles II (1660-85) Third Hammered Issue silver Halfcrown Estimate $10,000

Of the highest quality, this well struck example of the largest silver hammered portrait of King Charles II dates from the final issue before the change-over to machine made milled coins. Examples of coins from this issue are often seen but they are always poorly struck with weakness and imperfections. To find an example of this issue of the calibre of this piece is truly the exception and has obviously been carefully prepared and struck so well-centred and with such an even strike. With a provenance of previous ownership stretching back over 100 years and having been a front cover coin on a past auction catalogue the quality speaks for itself.

1696 William III Proof Crown obverse 1696 William III Proof Crown reverse

William III (1694-1702) silver Proof Crown 1696 Third Bust Estimate $15,000

The last time we can trace one of these extremely rare presentation proof crowns for sale of King William III by public auction was when this very coin was last offered as part of the Van-Roekel Collection of Crowns in 2001. There are elements to the design of the reverse which are only seen on the proof version of the crown and is struck with a plain edge.

1703 Anne Vigo Crown obverse 1703 Anne Vigo Crown reverse

Anne (1702-14) silver Crown Struck from the Vigo Treasure Dated 1703 Estimate $20,000

Superb examples of the largest silver Vigo coin are few and far between, and the demand for quality when coupled with the fact this coin is struck from the silver captured at Vigo Bay on 23rd October of 1702 will no doubt attract bidders from around the world.

1732 George II Proof Crown obverse 1732 George II Proof Crown reverse

George II (1727-60) silver Proof Crown with roses and plumes reverse 1732 Estimate $15,000

With iridescent rainbow colouring this silver Proof Crown, the first and rarest of the reign of Hanoverian King George II dated 1732, is a superb example of the ilk with the Kings young head portrait and the roses and plumes to signify the coin is struck from a mixture of English and Welsh derived silver.

1825 George IV Proof Crown obverse 1825 George IV Proof Crown reverse

George IV (1820-30) silver Pattern Crown 1825 Estimate $20,000

This silver Proof Crown dated 1825 is the pattern issued the year before the 1826 version that formed part of the proof set of coins and is subsequently much rarer. A beautiful portrait piece from the skilled hand of William Wyon, later a fellow of the Royal Academy of Art, the background toning on the fields of the coin only enhances the detail and boldness of the design and lettering.

1839 Victoria Proof Crown obverse 1839 Victoria Proof Crown reverse

Victoria (1837-1901) silver Proof Crown 1839 Estimate $15,000

Produced exclusively for the first complete proof set of the Young Head coinage of Queen Victoria, the 1839 silver Proof Crown is the largest numismatic depiction of the Queen by William Wyon, whose name appears on the truncation of the neck, with the letters R.A. after signifying his fellowship of the Royal Academy of Arts. The background toning on the fields of the coin only enhances the portrait, shield reverse and lettering. Only circa 300 sets of coins were produced and sold at the time which would contain such a coin.

For more information on the sale, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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