Across the Atlantic, historic British gold continues to glisten most brightly. Its latest outing was Baldwin’s of St James’s Premier Sale conducted on June 12 in London. Here, milled gold ruled the roost.
Leading the field by over $50,000 was a Victorian ‘Una and The Lion’ gold £5 of 1839 by William Wyon (S-3851; KM-742). All ‘Una and The Lion’ £5s are desirable but that on offer was a seldom seen, plain edge variety with reverse legend DIRIGIT DEUS GRESSUS MEOS [God directs my steps] instead of the far more common DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS [May God direct my steps]. This design also lacks the garter star on the shoulder of Queen Victoria’s robe (ESC-2628; W&R-277).
The specimen went to the block in ‘about FDC’ with a conservative estimate of £40,000-60,000. It quickly passed both these amounts to eventually sell for £148,800 [$188,667].
Some way back in the field came a very rare and superb George II proof 5 guineas of 1731 with QUARTO lettered edge (KM-; S-3663A). The coin has two claims to fame. It is an example of the Royal Mint’s early 18th century proofing efforts and employed the superbly engraved dies by Croker and Tanner. Further, it is only the second proof ever made of this denomination. The first was the 1670 five guineas of Charles II.
While historic cleaning has reduced the mirrored surfaces, the coin has remained attractive with an excellent portrait. The cataloger clearly anticipated it possibly outshining the Una and Lion £5 in assigning it a £80,000-100,000 estimate. In the event it realized £105,400 [$133,643].
Next in the price stakes found George II succeeded by his great-grandson George IV with a proof £5 of 1826 showing a SEPTIMO lettered edge (KM-702; S-3797). Graded a highly respectable PCGS Proof 63 Deep Cameo the cataloger was moved to describe the piece as having “orange-peel textured mirrored surfaces and delightfully frosted portrait.” That portrait was the new bust of the king by William Wyon based on the model by Chantrey.
On an estimate of £75,000-85,000 it fetched £76,880 [$97,481].
The House of Stuart finally managed a look-in among the high rollers with a five guineas of James II dated 1687 showing his second laureate bust (KM-460.1; S-3397A). A sharply struck coin graded PCGS Mint State 61; it sold for £57,040 [$73,324] in the middle of its £50,000-60,000 estimate range.
And then it was time for the return of Victoria with an 1893 £5 that coupled her veiled bust with St. George and his dragon (S-3872). In PCGS Proof 64 Deep Cameo it was bid-up to £44,640 [$56,600] on a £40,000-45,000 estimate.
Full catalog details and prices-realized are available on the Baldwin’s of St James website: https://bsjauctions.com/. The prices cited above include a premium of 24 percent (20% +VAT). These have been converted at an exchange rate of 1GBP=1.27USD.