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BRITISH COINS, MILLED GOLD SOVEREIGNS, Elizabeth
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BRITISH COINS, MILLED GOLD SOVEREIGNS, Elizabeth II (accession 6th February 1952), Gold Proof Sovereign, 1953, young laureate head facing right, tiny incuse M. G. on truncation for engraver Mary Gillick, legend surrounding reads +ELIZABETH II DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REGINA F: D:, finely toothed border within twin concentric circles and raised rim both sides, rev struck en médaille, St George with flowing cloak and helmet with streamer, slaying dragon with sword, broken lance on ground to lower left, date in exergue, engraver initials B.P. to upper right for late Benedetto Pistrucci, edge coarsely milled, 7.97g (Bentley -; Marsh p.103 and plate 51; Duveen and Stride p.92; Norweb Collection (Part I), lot 300; WR 448 R5, this coin illustrated; S 4122). Tiny black pinhead-sized spot in obverse field, cloudy tone with bright elements over underlying proof fields, frosted design and lettering, otherwise as struck and the only example available for private ownership, with an official Institutional provenance, as detailed in an accompanying letter of authenticity. This is a one year only type with different legend and punctuation compared to the later young head issues, of the highest rarity.\nex National Museum of Wales, Institutional Collection sold privately with official permission from the Department of Trade and Industry circa 1990 via Spink, as detailed in accompanying letter from Mark Rasmussen Numismatist.\nThis complete set then sold privately via Mark Rasmussen mid-2005, component coins shortly after dispersed individually in late-2005 at which time the letter of authentication was issued.\n\nOne of the greatest rarities in the modern Proof Sovereign series, the Elizabeth II 1953 Proof Sovereign for the Coronation year was not issued for sale to private collectors and has a "classified" mintage. Gold four-coin sets of Five Pounds, Two Pounds, Sovereign and Half-Sovereign were made only for National and Institutional Numismatic Collections to display for the Coronation, as well as the Royal Family.\nThis is only the second occasion an example of the 1953 Proof Sovereign has ever been offered for sale at public auction, the first ever publicly sold being the Norweb Family example in 1985, which had reportedly emanated from Seaby circa 1960. At that time this cataloguer estimated that ten examples existed (the mintage being classified). It sold for £24,000 hammer 29 years ago, taking "bronze medal" position behind two of the greatest and celebrated gold and silver rarities in the British Series, the Henry III gold Penny and the Charles II Petition Crown. However, this Norweb provenanced coin was in later years reported missing within the British coin trade, and has not been seen or heard of since the late 1980s, and perhaps no longer exists.\n\nTherefore this is the first opportunity in a generation, for nigh on three decades, for anyone to bid at auction for such a fabled rarity, and one with an excellent proven pedigree. This coin is the plate example as illustrated in the Wilson and Rasmussen reference on the subject, and there was no example present in the recent Bentley Collection. No guide price is currently given for it in the Spink Standard Catalogue which merely quotes each of the 1953 gold coins as being of the highest rarity, however they were once listed in this publication with prices in FDC condition as recently as the 2007 and 2008 editions with the Sovereign quoted at £150,000 retail.\nThe significant pedigree for this coin only adds to its eminence, it having once been part of the set that was housed in the National Museum of Wales, as certified in an accompanying letter "To whom it may concern" dated 16 December 2005 from Mark Rasmussen Numismatist, who certified its origin in brokering the sale of the set and subsequent dispersal in 2005 when the Hemisphere collector acquired it. The component coins of this National Museum of Wales set are all the actual examples illustrated in English Pattern Trial and Proof Coins in Gold 1547-1968 by Wilson and Rasmussen (WR 444, 446, 448, 454).\n\nThough the mintage is not known, recent research with the mint has shown that the 1953 gold coins were originally produced in two batches, the primary group consisting of six of the four-coin sets to supply the Royal and most senior National collections first, with a second batch later for other Numismatic Institutions with an additional set for the Royal Collection. The Royal Collection Trust website lists their two sets online under identification numbers RCIN443790-443797, there being only one of the Five Pounds obverses currently illustrated. It seems this second "batch" is the more classified and unknown element as to how many were struck, and seems to account for the Norweb coin which does not seem to have any Institutional provenance.\n\nContemporary news and anticipation of the new coinage for the new Queen can be followed through the pages of the Seaby Coin and Medal Bulletin (SCMB) who repeat articles from the Press. The first mention of proof gold coins dated 1953 is in the Sunday Express of the 14 December 1952, reproduced in the SCMB for February 1953 where it reports there is an intention to produce six sets of Coronation gold coins of £5, £2, £1 and 10s which will be struck for the "Royal Family and various museums" but so far officialdom has indicated that none will be issued to the public. The note adds that this is the first time since the inception of a successful gold coinage in the 14th Century reign of Edward III, that "no gold coins have been issued to commemorate a new monarch." What the comment really should have said, is that this was the first time that gold coins were to be produced only for institutions and not for issue to the public. This report no doubt refers to what became the first "batch" of gold coins, with six complete sets issued for respectively The Royal Family, The Royal Mint, The British Museum, The National Museums of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.\nThis is reiterated in the SCMB for May 1953, where it is emphasised that no British gold coinage will be available for collectors, and that the South Africa mint will produce the only gold coins for the public dated 1953 with the Queen's portrait, being the gold One Pond and Half Pond which they hoped to supply to their clients. The fact the public could not own a set of gold 1953 coins caused some contemporary comment, which was published in The Times letter pages in August of 1953, and reproduced in the SCMB of October 1953, being a "Plea for Gold Coins" detailing that an issue of some 10,000 sets for public consumption would be most desirable for the correspondent (this being nearly double the George VI gold set mintage - 5501).\nThe next mention actually of a gold set presumably on display, is that, in what is today the National Museum of Northern Ireland in Belfast, as reported in the Belfast Telegraph of the 4 January 1954, reported in the SCMB for February 1954. This National collection was curated by Mr W A Seaby, who was related to the Directors of the famous coin firm, and the exhibition was displayed as a geographical "Royal Tour" with one paragraph of the report mentioning that "the coins are arranged in order of the tour, and the first group is a proof set of English coins which had not been shown before at the Museum."\nThe Scotsman newspaper of 19 October published in Edinburgh and repeated in the SCMB of December 1954 reiterates that a "small number" of 1953 gold coins, specifically £5 and £2 in the report, have been made by the Royal Mint for British numismatic museums, which could perhaps by now refer to the second batch production. The report goes on that they were made as per Royal Proclamation and that none will be available to private collectors, or for circulation.\nMuch later on, the June 1955 SCMB gives details of the 84th Royal Mint report for 1953 that relates to the new Elizabethan coinage, wherein it mentions that a "very small number of gold sets (Five Pounds, Two Pounds, Sovereign and Half-Sovereign) bearing Her Majesty's portrait and St George and dragon reverse were struck. None of these were available to collectors but one set has been placed in the British Museum."\nThe December edition of the SCMB repeats a report from The Times of 3 October 1955 that reiterates the rarity of these 1953 sets, of which none were issued for collectors. It mentions that one was for the Royal Family, one for the British Museum and one for the Royal Mint and concludes that "a few - probably less than half a dozen - have been struck". Interestingly this report goes on to say that the plain edged George VI gold Coronation sets were "probably illegal" as the Royal proclamation of 18 March 1937 had stated that they "shall have a graining upon the edge," and that the purist (numismatist) should rejoice that the 1953 sets "have no such irregularity" being correctly grained. The Spink Numismatic Circular only contains one contemporary comment from November 1955 that repeats this word for word transcription of the same report.\nContemporary reference books make small mention of the rarity of the 1953 gold coins. The History of the Gold Sovereign, published in 1962 by Sir Geoffrey Duveen and H G Stride who was Chief Clerk of the mint at the time, mentions a "small number of Sovereigns were struck for the national collections" though their mintage tables record the number for 1953 production as "Nil" and they did not mention Edward VIII's coinage at all. Seaby British Coin expert Peter Alan Rayner in his 1954 pamphlet on "the Designers & Engravers of the English Milled Coinage 1662-1953" does not tabulate or even mention the gold coins, though he did mention proof sets of Edward VIII exist. No mention is made by Capt J J Cullimore-Allen in the 1965 publication, Sovereigns of the British Empire, of the 1953 proof Sovereigns apart from saying that no 1953 Sovereigns were issued. The more recent New History of the Royal Mint, edited by C Challis, published 1992, notes on page 589 that the mint decided in 1953 that gold coins for issue to the public would be "too much of an extravagance."\nIt is of the greatest significance that approximately 25 years ago, the Director of the National Museum of Wales made a decision to sell their 1953 gold set privately, and that as there was already another set in Wales housed at the Royal mint, the request was granted by the Department of Trade and Industry. This historic flow of events back then has resulted in an unrivalled, once in a generation opportunity for collectors to secure a piece of numismatic history of the highest rarity at this auction.
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*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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