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Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers
Auction 98  6-7 Jun 2017
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Lot 2419

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Starting Price: 80000 USD
Price realized: 130000 USD

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Great Britain. Gold Sovereign, ND. Henry VIII (1509-1547). Second coinage of 1526-44. Obverse: crowned facing full-length image of king enthroned, holding orb and scepter, portcullis at feet, initial or mint mark Lis over Sunburst. Reverse: Tudor shield of arms at center of full-blown rose, initial or mint mark Arrow. S-2267. North-1782. Schneider-570. Double saltire stops in legends. This rare issue is the largest of Henry VIII's gold coins. It was the second appearance of this stellar denomination during this reign and only the third issue of the Sovereign since its inception during his father Henry VII's reign (1485-1509). Henry VIII's Sovereign initially continued the design of his father's coin, differing in only small details and easily distinguished by the initial marks. These magnificent coins from the early years of the Tudor dynasty are among the finest and most artistic coins of the English renaissance. They are the predecessors a coin which is still being minted some five centuries later and which has long been revered as a standard value of money. The specimen we see in this lot is of the style issued intermittently as the Second Coinage, from 22 August 1526 through 28 May 1544, after which the original design was altered to depict the king as older (and bearded) with a rose at his feet, as well as to replace the Tudor rose on the reverse with a larger central crowned shield supported by a lion and a dragon. The reign became infamous for its debasing of the royal money as a consequence of Henry VIII's extravagant lifestyle, and relatively speaking a mere handful of his early gold coins survived the ravages of his era. This beautiful specimen is exceptional for its intact images of the king and his royal shield, as well as for its full, broad flan and undamaged surfaces, and the clarity of its legends. It retains luster from the early 16th century! Very Rare. PCGS graded MS-63. WINGS. Estimate Value $80,000 - UP
Henry Tudor was just 17 years old when he succeeded his father to the throne of England on the 24th of June, 1509. He ruled with an iron hand, often irrationally and selfishly, leaving to history one of the most fascinating of all monarchial stories. He inherited a realm blessed by both prosperity and peace as a result of his father's earlier military conquests and shrewdness at Court. In fact, the first Tudor king had been ingenious in many ways, ending the War of the Roses by his victory at Bosworth Field in 1485 and sealing his claim to the throne by marrying the daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, by whom he sired two sons and two daughters in quick succession, achieving a union of two noble families and founding the Tudor dynasty. Arthur, his first son, was born in 1486 but died as a youth in 1502, leaving the inheritance of the crown of England to his second son. Unlike his father, the young and boisterous Henry VIII favored festivities over quiet study, and he eagerly renewed English abhorrence of the ancient rival France. For this pursuit he took as one of his models of kingly prowess the illustrious Henry V, whose own ambitions had defeated a larger French army almost a century earlier at Agincourt.
Henry VIII's early wealth came from his father's clever taxes but equally from his father's era of prosperity which, despite rebellions within the kingdom, resulted in a swelling of the treasury. The first Tudor had also fined his nobility, sold offices, and instituted "penal bonds," which were asset taxes. It was from this base that his son launched his reign, and young Henry treated himself luxuriously. During his First Coinage of 1509-1526, he introduced the largest gold coins ever minted in England, the gold Sovereigns, which continued to be issued throughout the Second Coinage of 1526-1544. Judging by the glorious images of these coins, the kingdom seemed to be enjoying a glittering new age, but the golden promises - literal and figurative - of Henry's early years fairly soon withered under his vicious handling of all matters pertaining to the Crown. Defending his regal rights, he introduced various acts of treason and supremacy. His popularity was waning. These legal treatises of the 1530s largely pertained to his battle with the Papacy over his disastrous marriages and divorces. During this time his income declined while his need for money intensified, culminating in the infamous Dissolution of the Monasteries in which, by the end of 1539, he stripped the wealth from more than 560 monastic sites, including the confiscation of gold and silver plate, and even the lead from the buildings' windows and roofs.
For his savage taxation Henry was hated by many of his nobles, and for his actions against England's churches and churchmen he was damned by Rome. His health declined. All the while there was the threat of external war with France, and with the kingdom to his north. While he suffered from gout and extreme weight gain, his army invaded Scotland in 1542, and this required extensive military expenditures, ultimately causing an extreme debasement of his money, mainly seen in the poor quality of his late-issue silver coins. The end was near for the king and his dynasty's future was uncertain as his only son was sickly, his eldest daughter was Catholic, and his other child was a largely ignored girl named Princess Elizabeth. Henry's son would die early, and Princess Mary would woefully align herself with a Spanish Catholic but die childless, leaving England to her sister, Elizabeth. Ironically, she would revive England's wealth and majesty to such an extent that an age would be named after her. Her father was gone but could never have imagined that a daughter would accomplish what he could not. He had resorted to raiding his Court, his Church, and his subjects. By the end of his life, he would never see the large gold Sovereigns that proclaimed his ruling power some three decades earlier. If the lead from the windows and roofs of monasteries across the kingdom was melted, so too were such glorious images of the reign's early promise and its finest symbols of prosperity, such as this wondrous survivor of its times!
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