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Auction 17006  25-26 Sep 2017
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Commonwealth (1649-60), pattern Halfcrown, 19.79g (305.4gr), 1651, 32mm., m.m. mullet, by Ramage, tooth border and twisted rope inner circle, the. common. wealth. of. england, shield of England within laurel wreath, rev. coin alignment, gavrded. with. angeles., facing angel over conjoined shields of England and Ireland, edge trvth. and. peace. 1651. with mullet stops (Bergne, no. 6; ESC 66 {445} [R5]; N.2733; S.-), toned, about extremely fine, with a fine pedigree and of the highest rarity.
Provenance:
D S Freedman (Bt. before 1971), Spink auction 55, 10 October 1986, lot 87, £2,400;
Henry Webb, Sotheby, 13 July 1894, lot 629, £25.10/-;
A D Clarke, Christies, 15 June 1891;
Egmont-Bieber, Sotheby, 14 May 1889, lot 231, £37;
J Halliburton Young, Sotheby, 9 April 1881, lot 290, £27;
J B Bergne, Sotheby, 20-30 May 1873, lot 876, £24.10/-;
T Thomas, Sotheby, 26 February 1844, lot 280, £24;
G Hollington Barker, Leigh & Sotheby, 11 May 1803, £10.10/-;
B Bartlett, John Gerard Auction, 25 April 1787, £30.

This coin was illustrated in D S Freedman's article of 1971 in the Spink Numismatic Circular and included as part of his sale in Spink auction 55, 10 October 1986. Its provenance prior to this is incomplete, but as J B Bergne listed the weights and current owners of the known Ramage Halfcrowns in the Numismatic Chronicle vol. XVII, 1854/1855, it is presumed to be the sixth on his list, having precisely the same weight at 305 grains.
Ramage produced his pattern Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences in 1651 to compete with Peter Blondeau, a French engineer and pioneer of milled coinage invited to England in 1649 to help improve the coinage of the realm. This invitation caused consternation amongst the moneyers of the Mint led by Ramage, Briot's assistant in the 1640s. He believed that they he could achieve the same result and that it was merely a matter of time and expense. He therefore requested £1,000 for the equipment necessary to coin milled money 'as fair, beautiful and cheap as any Frenchman in the world'. As a consequence, in 1651 the Committee ordered both Ramage and Blondeau to produce pattern coins for trial. On July 3rd, 1651, the patterns were presented before the Committee. Blondeau had produced 300 coins of a similar style to contemporary Commonwealth hammered coins, but of a much higher quality, engraved by Simon with the larger denominations bearing crisp and regular edge inscriptions. Ramage's patterns, produced through leftover equipment by Briot and Mestrelle, numbered merely twelve Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences.
As per the Committee's stipulations, Ramage had also attempted to inscribe the edges of his Halfcrowns but clearly encountered production issues. Careful examination of his known patterns show that all of Ramage's Halfcrowns and Shillings were produced with the same reverse die (see lot 817 for the Shilling) but that two separate, almost identical obverse dies were used, one seen on patterns with a lettered or beaded edge, the other only on those examples with plain edges. This may have come about if Ramage had produced his first patterns using a traditional fixed obverse die, not compatible with an engraved collar for the application of edge lettering. As his first results of plain edges would have been unsatisfactory, Ramage would have had to have engraved a new, moveable obverse die which could be used with a lettered collar. It appears that even after completing this step his engraved collar was too deep, forcing him to steadily increase the thickness of his planchets to achieve the full edge inscription giving coins of inconsistent weights.
Although initially the Committee made no determination in favour of either party, the Blondeau patterns remained in the hands of Sir James Harrington, chairman of the Committee, for nearly two years whilst Ramage's were delivered back to the moneyers by Thomas Violet who said of his milled coinage, "It is faire to the Eye, but not safe for the Commonwealth". Only nine Ramage Halfcrowns are known, and the weight of this pattern is 19.79g, exceptionally heavy for this denomination. This implies that it is one of the last Ramage produced with a thicker flan in order to improve its edge lettering.
Bergne's list of provenances and weights of the nine Ramage halfcrowns known in 1854 has been updated as much as possible and included here for completeness. Note the addition of a tenth example.
1) British Museum, 18.75g (288.7gr.),
B C Roberts, Leigh & Sotheby, 1 June 1805;
S Tyssen, sold by him as a duplicate;
E Hodsoll;
M C Tutet, John Gerard Auction, 18 January 1786 - £20.10/-;
M Beachcroft (Bt. before 1769).
2) Hunterian Museum, 18.39g (283.6gr.),
Dr. Hunter, between 1770 and 1783.
3) Ashmolean Museum (since 1922), 17.69g (273gr.),
Bodleian Library, Oxford;
Browne Willis (1682-1760).
4) Private ownership (?), 19.57g (302gr.),
R M Murchison, Sotheby, 27 June 1864, lot 368, £27;
J D Cuff, Sotheby, 8 June 1854, £24.10/-;
Rev. E J Shepherd;
Earl of Pembroke Collection, Sotheby, 31 July 1848, lot 105, £27.10/-.
5) Private ownership, 17.31g (267gr.),
Norweb, part 3, Spink 56, 19 November 1986, lot 957;
Hepburn-Wright, collection purchased en bloc by Spink c1965;
Dr. Carter, collection purchased en bloc by Baldwin in 1950;
Hilton Price, Sotheby, 17-19 May 1909, lot 245, £13;
J G Murdoch, Sotheby, second portion, 8-13 June 1903, lot 422, £25;
H Montagu, 13-20 November 1896, lot 708, £24.5/-;
W Brice, Sotheby, collection purchased en bloc by Montagu in 1887;
J A & EW Wigan, collection purchased en bloc by Rollin & Feuardent in 1872;
Lt-Col W Durrant, Sotheby, 19 April 1847, lot 733, £24.10/-;
M Trattle, Sotheby, 30 May 1832, lot 2592, £35;
S Tyssen, Leigh & Sotheby, 12 April - 6 December 1802, lot 3002, £26.5/-;
J Browne, John Gerard, 16 March - 2 June 1791, lot 41, £21;
M Folkes, Langford & Sons, 27 January 1756, lot 36, £8.10/-;
B Fairfax, Langford & Sons, 24 April 1751, £2.5/-.
6) This coin, 19.79g (305.4gr.)
7) Private ownership, weight untraced,
T B Clarke Thornhill, Sotheby, 24-28 May 1937, lot 582, £47;
Rev. E J Shepherd, Sotheby, 22-25 July 1885, lot 412, £52;
Hicks;
Earl of Pomfret.
8) Royal Museum of Scotland, 17.1g (264gr.),
Bt. Seaby, 1934, £20;
E H Wheeler, Sotheby, 14 March 1930, £16;
T Bliss, Sotheby, 15-19 May 1916, lot 479, £5;
H W Cholmley, Sotheby, 26 May 1902, lot 80, £17.10/- ;
W N Clarkson, Sotheby, 16-20 April 1901, £17;
H Montagu duplicate, Sotheby, 7 May 1888, lot 394, £34;
S Addington, collection purchased en bloc by H Montagu in 1883;
T Brown, Sotheby, 26-31 July 1869, lot 596, £15.15/-;
Sir H Russell, Sotheby, 18 February 1850, £20;
Sir J Twisden, Sotheby, 21 May 1841, £17.10/-;
G Phare, Sotheby, 5 May 1834, £17.
9) Described in 1854: "In poor condition. I know not who is the owner. It was offered to Mr. Cureton by a dealer at Portsmouth". This may subsequently prove to be a duplicate listing of one of the other Halfcrowns.
The next example has a plain edge and is the lightest known, and was therefore previously adjudged by Bergne to be a Shilling rather than a Halfcrown. In addition, it is of a different obverse die.
10) Private ownership 15.23g (235gr.),
Slaney, part 2, 14 May 2015, lot 364, £16,000;
Lord Grantley, fifth portion, Glendining, 18-19 May 1944, lot 1880, £42;
T Bliss, Sotheby, 15-19 May 1916, lot 480, £4.4/-;
J G Murdoch, second portion, Sotheby, 8-13 June 1903, lot 423, £7;
H Montagu, Sotheby, 13-20 November 1896, lot 709, £9 ;
S Addington, collection purchased en bloc by H Montagu in 1883




Estimate: £12,000.00 - £15,000.00
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