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Two-headed gold ‘dollar’ star of sale

The unique gold 1804 double obverse George III pattern dollar struck by W.J. Taylor fetched $171,600 at DNW’s September sale. (Images courtesy & © Dix Noonan Webb.)

The unique gold 1804 double obverse George III pattern dollar struck by W.J. Taylor fetched $171,600 at DNW’s September sale. (Images courtesy & © Dix Noonan Webb.)

One coin ruled them all at Dix Noonan Webb’s fall sale held in London on Sept. 21-23: an 1804 George III “dollar” believed to be unique.

The item consisted of a double obverse strike involving two different effigies of the monarch. These effigies are those used by the Bank of England during the British currency shortage of 1804 that followed hard on the heels of a resumption of war with Napoleonic France. At this time crown-sized silver coins of Spain, France and the USA had their designs overstruck by an effigy of George III and Britannia.

In the DNW catalog the gold dollar is credited to William (W.J.) Taylor after John Phillp and Conrad Küchler. C. Wilson Peck’s “English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in the British Museum” states that Taylor obtained a number of bank dollar dies, “which he used freely for re-striking.”

Clearly the coin’s origins mattered little to sale bidders. In as-struck condition the dollar went to the block with an estimate of £100,000-150,000. That estimate proved right on the money. When the dust settled it had found a new home for $171,600 [£132,000].

Two other rarities with intriguing histories also excited bidders. Both were new to the auction block.

First up was a South American rarity that had surfaced at an auction valuation day in Cambridge. A woman in her late 70s had brought along a collection of coins assembled by her late father. All bar one were unremarkable. That one was the 15th known example of the Chilean “Fine Type” 1828TH Coquimbo silver peso (KM-88).

Its desirability was enhanced by an EF grade and its, “attractive light toning over proof-like fields.” Bidding proved fierce and at hammer fall the rarity had sold for $49,920 [£38,400] on a £12,000-15,000 estimate.

Then came a Scottish David I silver penny found in a field in County Durham by a detectorist in May this year. This was one of the first Scottish coins ever minted. It would have been struck sometime after the Scots invaded England in 1136. They captured Carlisle and its mint enabling Scotland’s first coins to be produced. Several surviving coins exist but that found is a previously unknown transitional type. It combines an early obverse with a later reverse.

Estimated at £6,000-8,000 the penny was bought by an Internet bidder for $13,260 [£10,200].

But DNW’s sale contained much, much more. There was the third part of the Lyall collection of Charles I coins that took a comfortable $102,445 [£78,804]. The 17th century London tokens of Quentin Archer made $35,038 [£26,952]. And a Victorian 1887 proof set fetched $37,440 [£28,800]. A William III five guineas of 1700 brought $26,520 [£20,400].

The sale totaled $1,713,691 [£1,318,224] including buyers’ premium. Full details including prices-realized can be found at A premium of 20 percent has been added to all prices shown that have been converted at a rate of 1GBP = 1.30USD.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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More Collecting Resources

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

• More than 600 issuing locations are represented in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800 .