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Coins of British Isles lead Dix Noonan sale

By Kerry Rodgers

Pre-sale reports of Dix Noonan Webb’s late-September sale dwelled largely on the many rarities on offer from the Bullmore, Manville and Cattermole collections. In the event it was a wildcard entry that stole the show.

Late in the day DNW announced they had added an 1820 George III pattern gold 5 pounds to the catalog.

The top-selling second coinage George III 5 pounds, S-3783, that realized $364,830 at Dix Noonan Webb. Image courtesy and © DNW.

The top-selling second coinage George III 5 pounds, S-3783, that realized $364,830 at Dix Noonan Webb. Image courtesy and © DNW.

This is a remarkable coin. No large circulating gold coins had been issued in England since 1754. The Napoleonic wars had led to gold hoarding and post-war the new-fangled Bank of England notes had taken over.

Although new gold coins were authorized by an Order in Council of August 1816, it was not until December 1819 that the Master of the Mint, Wellesley Pole, instructed his then relatively new designer Benedetto Pistrucci to prepare the necessary dies. By the time they were ready in 1820 the king was literally on his deathbed. Just 25 of the 5 pounds are believed to have been struck. In effect these became commemorative pieces.

All of which helps explain why a London dealer paid $364,830 [£240,000] for it.

The price of that one lot represents almost 12 percent of the total of $3.1 million [£2.1 million] realized at the three-day sale leading Christopher Webb to observe the result as, “one of the most successful coin sales in the 25-year history of the company.”

With the centenary of the Easter Rising just around the corner it is perhaps appropriate that coins from earlier Irish “Troubles” played a significant role in that total. All 28 lots from the Theo Bullmore “Collection of Irish Coins of the Great Rebellion of 1642-1649” sold. They realized the tidy sum of $256,694 [£168,900].

Of these the Ormonde Money gold pistole from 1646-47 took $118,547 [£78,000], which was less than the price expected from its £80,000-100,000 estimate.

By comparison, strong bidding drove a Confederate Catholics “Rebel Money” halfcrown up to $29,181 [£19,200] on its £10,000-12,000 estimate.

The 51 Irish silver coins and tokens from 1649-1813 assembled by the late Harrington Manville all sold, fetching a grand total of $335,296 [£220,572]. Likewise the 194 lots from Manville’s collection of Scottish silver were a sell-out, taking $271,236 [£178,434].

The finest extant example available to collectors of a Charles II Scottish 4 merks, KM104.1, fetched $47,429, ex-Harrington Manville collection. Image courtesy and © DNW.

The finest extant example available to collectors of a Charles II Scottish 4 merks, KM104.1, fetched $47,429, ex-Harrington Manville collection. Image courtesy and © DNW.

Topping the Manville bill was the rare Charles II 4 merks. It romped to an easy $47,429 [£31,200], or nearly four times its upper estimate of £8,000. That price was no doubt helped by the coin’s condition and it illustrious provenance as having once been part of the Bridgewater House Collection. It is almost certainly the finest specimen available on the market.

And Part I of Paul Cattermole’s extraordinary collection of sixpences from the Tudor monarchs until 1970 decimalization did not let the side down. It managed a healthy total of £59,166.

Those who have been following the rise and rise in the fortunes of Victorian proof sets may wish to learn that an 1887 set estimated at £12,000-$15,000 and an 1893 set estimated at £15,000-20,000 both made $47,429 [£31,200].

Full catalog details and prices realized can be downloaded from www.dnw.co.uk.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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