Starting Price: 10 000 USDCurrent bid: NoneMinimum bid: 10 000 USD
Great Britain. Charles II Pattern Silver Broad, 1660. North-2777. By Thomas Simon. Reeded edge, signed 'S' beneath the portrait. Diameter 30mm. Obverse has Simon's draped bust of the king facing right with the legend CAROLVS II REX. The reverse legend of MAGNALIA DEI 1660, which surrounds the ornate royal shields and cyphers, translates to mean "The Mighty Acts of God." Prooflike, mint state with a handsome blue and gray toning. NGC graded MS-63. Estimated Value $20,000 - UP
This superb piece is the silver twin of the gold pattern Broad, which sold for a hammer price of $270,000.00 in the Goldberg sale of June 6th 2016 (lot 2285) some five years ago.
The gold sibling, struck from the same dies, was described then by the cataloguer as "an astonishingly well-preserved specimen, likely the finest known, of numismatic importance as a (gold) pattern of similar stature to the famed Petition Crown struck in silver. The collecting opportunity of a lifetime to acquire this historically significant and beautifully made coin."
The description can also be applied to this exquisite silver specimen. Only a tiny number of examples are known to exist, and this is as carefully struck and likely as well preserved as any example offered in past decades.
The 2016 cataloguer narrates the story of Simon and his work. Thomas Simon, born circa 1623, was one of the sons of Peter Simon of Guernsey, whose older brother Abraham was also a medallist. He first came to the attention of Nicholas Briot about 1635 and was engaged as an apprentice at the Royal Mint - his first work being the "Scottish Rebellion" medal of 1639. After the execution of Charles I in 1649 and during the period of The Commonwealth he mostly engraved seals and medals, and was politically neutral.
Around 1650 Cromwell spotted Simon's talent and ordered him to make effigies of 'General Cromwell' to be used to produce gold and silver medals as awards to officers and soldiers who took part in the Battle of Dunbar. Simon's work was so well received that he was selected to engrave dies for Cromwell's portrait coins - struck from 1656 until 1658 (the year of Cromwell's death).
The short-lived milled coinage using Simon's effigy of Oliver Cromwell and his shield, and struck by Blondeau, ended in August 1660 (a few months after the return of the monarchy in the person of King Charles II) but it had shown that the process of hand hammering coins was old fashioned and unable to forestall counterfeiting and the illegal shaving of metal from the uneven coin edges.
Simon's 1660-dated Broads, struck for the new king, had a similar weight and diameter to the gold and silver Broads of Cromwell, minted just a few years earlier in 1656. And as a pattern these were designed to promote the continuation of the series.
Charles II was the first of a new breed of monarchs, and much of his passion was devoted to the arts despite the catastrophes of the first years of his reign - including the Plague and the Great Fire of London. He began building what eventually became the royal art collection of paintings, and he was a magnanimous patron of the flourishing sciences, as well as of architects such as Christopher Wren. Charles took a particular personal interest in sculpture and in the engraving arts as well, to which the superb artistry of this wonderful pattern attests. Here we see a lifelike image of the king replete with touching details shown in considerable relief and with artistic flair.
The fabulous work of engraving art seen in this lot, struck only as a pattern, was largely responsible for the (permanent) introduction of the 'milled' or machine-made coinage as ordered by the King in Council on May 17th 1661 - shortly after this piece was created.
But Simon's immense talent would not serve him ably enough during the Restoration. Thomas Rawlins was reinstated as chief engraver at the mint. In June 1660 he was ordered to prepare a new portrait of the king, but failed to do so on time, and Simon was given the assignment on August 10th of that year. Then came the fateful contest between Thomas Simon and John Roettier of Flanders in February 1662. Simon produced the magnificent and now famous 'Petition Crown' with its stunning royal image and the spectacular edge engraving that petitioned King Charles II to select Simon's work for royal coinage. Perhaps remembering Simon's medal of 1651 (and Simon's other work for Cromwell) the king decided in favour of Roettier, effectively ending Simon's employment at the Royal Mint. He died of the plague in June 1665.
Fortunately, there remains this extraordinary pattern as an everlasting testimony to the talents of one of the world's greatest numismatic engravers.