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English Silver Super-Rarities Lead Spink Auction

Obverse & reverse of the rare James II shilling of 1685 (S-3411; ESC-763), one of just four known examples. It will be offered at Spink’s NYINC sale in January. Note: plume at center of reverse. (All images courtesy & © Spink London.)

Obverse & reverse of the rare James II shilling of 1685 (S-3411; ESC-763), one of just four known examples. It will be offered at Spink’s NYINC sale in January. Note: plume at center of reverse. (All images courtesy & © Spink London.)

Sunday January 17 will see Spink offer the Roy Francis Collection of English Silver Rarities at their NYINC sale. For collectors of England’s silver shillings and sixpences this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to obtain one or more ultra-rare key coins in both series.

First up is a 1685 plume shilling of James II (S-3411; ESC-763). This is the first example of this coin to be offered at auction in over fifty years.

English Silver Coinage gives the 1685 shilling a rarity of R6 with just four examples extant. It is likely the greatest rarity of the entire English Milled Shilling series. It was absent from Murdoch, Montagu, Pegg, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, and Norweb collections, to name just a few well-known rarity hunters who failed to snare an example. Its rarity and desirability certainly eclipses the celebrated ‘Dorrien Magens’ issue.

Albert Baldwin exhibited two 1685 shillings at the British Numismatic Society on March 28, 1951 [cf. ‘Minutes’ in BNJ (1952), page 358 and Plate A, no. 19]. One of these is that on offer and has been off the market ever since Baldwin’s showing.

The late Harry (Harrington) Manville owned one example he purchased from Baldwin in October 1974. Spink sold it at auction graded “Fair / about Fine” on June 4, 1980. A note added to the lot description stated, “This type was completely unknown until shortly before the last war, when two were found in a single collection and a third appeared shortly thereafter.”

The “horrendously rare” 1666 first bust shilling of Charles II, lacking elephant below bust (S-3372).

The “horrendously rare” 1666 first bust shilling of Charles II, lacking elephant below bust (S-3372).

Also in the Spink NYINC sale and also from the House of Stuart comes a “horrendously rare” 1666 first bust shilling of Charles II that lacks the elephant below the bust (S-3372). The latest edition of Coins of England lists this coin simply as “Extremely rare”. No examples of this coin have been offered since at least 1960 and it was presently ‘delisted’ from the latest ESC because it has not been seen and was, until recently, believed to be mythical. It was previously listed as ESC 1025A.

And sixpenny collectors may like to check out the finest known plume-belowbust, 1700 sixpence of William III (S-3548). This was last on the market in 1986 when it sold for a then staggering £3,000 hammer!

But there’s more! Much more! For collectors of historic English coinage a detailed read of Spink’s online catalog is a must.