By Kerry Rodgers
Great expectations surrounded Dix, Noonan, Webb’s February auction in London. It did not disappoint. The only cloud to mar a most successful day was the withdrawal of the Australian 1921 specimen star shilling prior to commencement of sale.
Its absence was well and truly compensated for by a 1910 George V pattern crown, a group of 20th century Royal Mint proof-record coins from the Melbourne Mint Museum, and a Charles I halfcrown of 1642 struck at Shrewsbury.
The charge was led by the gold pattern crown, the work of A.G. (Allan) Wyon. It was produced following the death of Edward VII in May 1910 when plans were being made for a series of new coins bearing the head of Edward’s successor George V. Several designers submitted proposals to the Royal Mint authorities.
Despite Wyon’s illustrious pedigree none of his designs made it to the starting gate. His pattern crown became a numismatic curiosity with just two examples known. It arrived on the auction block in near mint state and with an impressive pedigree: ex G. Hamilton-Smith, Sir Kenyon Vaughan Morgan, Lady Duveen, and C. Dabney Thompson collections.
As a consequence it was not surprising when that it swiftly exceeded its £80,000-£100,000 estimate to eventually find a new home for £144,000 [$221,760].
The former Melbourne Mint Museum collection contributed 86 lots of proof-record coins to the sale. Such coins are rare in collectors’ hands with very few struck. Those on offer were all top quality, third-party graded examples. They had been originally offered for sale in two tranches in 1988 and 2009. Many were ex Noble Numismatics 2009 sale.
The highest price realized was the £15,600 [$24,024] paid for a Greek Republic 1930 proof set comprising 20, 10 and 5 drachmai, KM 71.1-73. Second top price of £12,000 [$18,480] went to a 1929 Saudi Arabian set consisting of riyal, half-and quarter-riyal, ghirsh, half- and quarter-ghirsh, KM-.
Other high fliers were:
Egypt, Farouk, 1356h/1937 proof 20, 10, 5 and 2 piastres set, KM 365-8: £7,800 [$12,012];
Eire 1939 proof set (halfcrown, florin, shilling, sixpence, threepence, halfpenny and farthing), KM 9, 10, 12-16: £7,200 [$11,080];
Great Britain, Elizabeth II, 1954 proof (halfcrown, florin, shillings – both English and Scottish, sixpence, threepence, halfpenny and farthing) set, KM 895-6, 900, 903-7: £6,600 [$10,164];
Great Britain, George VI 1947 proof (halfcrown, florin, shillings – both English and Scottish, sixpence) set, KM 862-6: £6,240 [$9,610];
Egypt, Fuad I, 1352h/1933 proof 20, 10 and 5 piastres set, KM 349, 350, 352: £6,000 [$9,240].
Among the singletons a Lebanese proof 10 piastres of 1961, KM-24 took £7,800 [$12,012], while an Edward VIII East African proof 10 cents of 1936, KM-24, made £520 [$801].
For collectors of hammered British coins the highlight of the sale would have been the rare Charles I halfcrown struck at Shrewsbury during the Civil War in 1642, S 2934. The coin depicts the king on horseback a.k.a. the “Shrewsbury horseman” with no plume in the obverse field.
On the reverse below three plumes is the Charles’ declaration made before the first pitched battle of the civil war that he would uphold “the Protestant Religion, the Laws of England, and the Liberty of Parliament.” Shrewsbury was the first of the king’s civil war mints to use this declaration his coins’ reverses. It operated for only a few months before relocating to Oxford. All its coins are scarce to rare. All are dated 1642.
Struck on an irregular flan but otherwise in gVF condition it easily exceeded its estimate of £6,000-£8,000 to sell for £10,800 [$16,632].
Overall the auction realized a total of £635,436 [$978,571], including commission, for a clearance rate of 96 percent. There were 220 successful buyers.
Full catalog details and prices realized can be found at www.dnw.co.uk; go to “Auction Archive” and “Prices Realized.”