THE BENTLEY COLLECTION OF BRITISH MILLED GOLD SOVEREIGNS. George V, Sovereign, 1917, bare head left, B.M. on truncation, latter stop weak and smaller, toothed border and raised rim, GEORGIVS V D: G: BRITT: OMN: REX F: D: IND: IMP:, rev struck en médaille, St George slaying dragon with sword, horse with long tail, broken lance on ground-line to left, WWP in relief under lance, date in exergue, tiny B.P. to upper right, finely toothed border within twin linear concentric circles and raised rim, 7.99g (Marsh 219; MCE 645; S 3996). Short scratch by mouth, nicks on neck and in field, other light bagmarks, otherwise extremely fine and one of the finest extant of this, the rarest London Mint Sovereign of the 20th Century.
ex Randy Weir Numismatics, Unionville, Ontario, Canada, purchased 29 January 1992
Calendar year mintage 1,014,714
Three years into war and still over one million Sovereigns were produced for the reserves of the Bank of England. Nearly all the 1917 issue were exported to America in lieu of payments and most were never seen by the public. They were held probably at Fort Knox for many years until the USA passed the Gold Reserve Act at the time of the Great Depression in 1934, when all coin was converted to bars. The only survivors we have today were those that ended up in overseas payment to other nations, other than the USA. See also footnote on lot 364.
The coinage of the reign of King George V features a bare head portrait of the King facing to the left by the Australian sculptor, Edgar Bertram Mackennal (12 June 1863 – 10 October 1931), whose initials appear on the truncation of the bust and with the titles GEORGIVS V D: G: BRITT: OMN: REX F: D: IND: IMP: Mackennal was famed for his artistic sculptures, but became more numismatically interesting, as the designer of the Olympic Medals for the London Olympic Games of 1908. This led to the commission for the Coronation Medallion for King George V, and he then successfully won the commission for the coinage and for postage stamp portraits. One other Royal commission was to design the tomb for King Edward VII at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. He was also the first Australian citizen to be knighted, in 1921 and was admitted to the Royal Academy in 1922.
For the Sovereign the classic St George and dragon design continues engraved, after Pistrucci with his initials in the exergue, and amazingly still featuring the tiny WWP under the lance for William Wellesley Pole from his days of the Master-ship of the Mint circa 1820. Had the London Mint continued to produce gold Sovereigns from 1928, like some of the Colonial Mints did, then a smaller portrait of George V would no doubt have appeared as at Melbourne, Perth and Pretoria. More significantly, the reverses of these Colonial small head pieces are revised and the WWP initials disappear at last. Such pieces will be offered for sale in part two in September.
The Reign of King George V (1910-1936)
House of Windsor
Born: 3 June 1865
Accession: 6 May 1910
Married: Mary of Teck, 6 July 1893
Coronation: Thursday, 22 June 1911,
second Coronation as Emperor of India at
the Delhi Durbar, Tuesday, 12 December 1911
Children: five sons, one daughter
Died: 20 January 1936, aged 70