One of the world’s rarest and most desirable gold coins is to be offered by Dix Noonan Webb as part of their Sept. 15-17 sale in London: an “Ormonde Money” pistole dating from 1646, KM-67. It is just one of two available to collectors of the 11 survivors known.
The coin owes its existence to the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and subsequent Irish Confederate Wars. It was struck in Dublin in the summer of 1646 when the Royalist garrison of Dublin came under siege. James Butler, Earl of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Lieutenant-General of the King’s forces in Ireland, had urgent need of specie to pay his troops to ensure their continued loyalty.
All available silver plate had long been converted into coin and in July Butler ordered gold to be melted down and struck as “pledges” weighing 4 pennyweights 7 grains and 8 pennyweights 14 grains. These pieces are Ireland’s only gold coinage.
King Charles’ wife, Henrietta Maria had earlier sent 10,000 Louis d’or, commonly called pistoles, from France to assist his forces in Ireland. As a consequence the new necessity coins also became known as pistoles and double pistoles.
Graded “strictly fine” the pistole goes to the block with an estimate of $120,000-$150,000 [£80,000-£100,000], a price commensurate with its extreme rarity and historic importance.
This coin is but one from a collection of historic Irish coins assembled by Theo Bullmore, in the DNW sale catalog. They include issues of Charles I, the 1641 Rebellion, and the Confederate Wars. Two other examples illustrate this collection’s depth and breadth.
An extremely rare Confederate Catholics “Rebel Money” halfcrown, KM-65, in EF is expected to fetch $15,000-$18,000 [£10,000-£12,000], while a rare Charles I “Dublin Money” crown, KM-54, caries an estimate of $9,000-$12,000 [£6,000-£8,000]. In short, the entire offering is anticipated to raise the blood pressure of all collectors of Irish material.
That said, collectors whose focus is Scottish coins are also very well-catered for. This same DNW sale is presenting the late Harrington Manville’s collection of Scottish silver: 1660-1800.
The quality of Manville’s extensive holding is well illustrated by the extremely rare Charles II first Scottish coinage four merks dating from 1664, KM-104.1. Its provenance can be traced back to the Bridgewater House Collection begun by the second Earl of Bridgewater in the 17th century. It comes graded EF and is undoubtedly the finest example of this Scottish silver coin available to the market. It goes to the block with an estimate of $9,000-$12,000 [£6,000-£8,000].
If that doesn’t get Scottish collectors excited, a William and Mary 60 shillings of 1691, KM-134, may appeal. In gVF it carries a far more modest estimate of $3,000-$4,500 [£2,000-£3,000].
The catalog also details the Paul Cattermole collection of British sixpences. Over 2,000 coins are involved spanning 1551-1970. These will be offered in some 600 lots.
Among many high grade rarities is a 1555 sixpence from the joint reign of Philip and Mary muled with the obverse of an Irish groat. In VF the estimate is $1,800-$2,250 [£1,200-£1,500]. And the Elizabethan fanciers among readers may wish to check out this queen’s sixpence of 1561. It carries a superb portrait of the monarch and should easily fetch $750-$1,050 [£500-£700] if not more.
Those accessing the catalog, either on-line or in hand copy, should not overlook the remainder of world coins listed. At the time of writing there were just 712 lots that had been cataloged. Among these are some choice high-grade rarities. They include a great selection of cut and counterstamped coins mainly of the West Indies, a Queen Victoria pattern double-florin by L.C. Wyon from 1868 in gold ($7,500-$9,000), and a Scottish James V first coinage unicorn in gVF ($6,000-$7,500).
Scottish heritage gets a further helping among the historic medals: a restrike of an exceptionally rare gold medal of 1750 promoting the legitimacy of the Jacobite Succession. The obverse bears the effigy of a certain Bonnie Prince while on the reverse he appears clad in Highland dress extending his hand to Scotia. The 52 mm, 74.22 g is unsigned but credited to Pingo. As a restrike it carries the usual rust marks but is otherwise as struck. The estimate is $7,500-$10,500 [£5,000-£7,000].
The auction firm refers to its three-day event as a “coin festival” and for collectors of British coins that is a most apt description. In all, the catalog lists over 2,000 lots. Collectors wanting to get their hands on a copy can go online at www.dnw.co.uk.