Sovereign Rarities Ltd
Auction 4  21 Sep 2021
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Lot 240

Starting price: 8000 GBP
Price realized: 32 000 GBP
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James II (1685-88), silver Crown, 1687, second laureate and draped bust left, legend and toothed border surrounding, IACOBVS. II. DEI. GRATIA, rev. crowned cruciform shields, garter star at centre, date either side of top crown, MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB REX., edge inscribed in raised letters, +.DECVS. ET. TVTAMEN. . ANNO. REGNI. TERTIO.+, 30.17g (Bull 743; ESC 78; S.3407 – this coin). As struck, an exceptional example both in its production and preservation, so well-made as to appear to be some form of proof or specimen, handsomely toned, the finest known for the type.

A major influx of silver came into the mint for coinage during 1687, as a successful sea salvage operation of treasure from the Spanish ship the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion had occurred off the East Coast of North America. William Phips was in charge of the successful recovery and delivery of the silver, which was made to the Mint in June 1687. The coins were rushed in their production as 25 tonnes of silver - amounting to £205,536 of coin - was to be processed, making weaknesses prevalent across the larger denominations. This input from the salvage was four fifths of the silver output in coin for 1687. As such, much of the silver coinage of James II often shows haymarking and flaws, as the silver used had been immersed in saltwater for some 40 years beforehand.

The frequency of such imperfections in the silver coinage of 1687-1688 makes the current offering all-the-more impressive, it being boldly and centrally-struck in flawless metal giving full definition to the devices. Indeed, it shows no sign of the production and specie problems of 1687 whatsoever, its appearance so markedly different to what is conventional for the issue that it may have been intended as a specimen or presentation piece. In the catalogue for the 2003 Slaney sale, this coin was described as "the most perfectly struck specimen of this usually poorly struck issue we can recall seeing, only a light hint of friction to Scottish lion otherwise attractively toned, as struck, the finest known specimen with an excellent pedigree".

Ex Hugh Howard, Sotheby, 20th May 1874
Ex W. Brice, collection purchased en bloc by H Montagu
Ex H. Montagu, Sotheby, 7th May 1888, lot 480
Ex A. B. Richardson, Sotheby, 22nd May 1895, lot 301
Ex H. G. C. Day, collection purchased by Baldwin, c.1935
Ex Capt. H. E. G. Paget, Glendining, 25th September 1946 lot 330
Ex H. M. Lingford, Glendining, 24th October 1950, lot 389, £46, "perfectly struck like a proof"
Ex Slaney, Part I, Spink Coin Auction 163, 15th May 2003, lot 143

Currently the Spink standard catalogue plate coin.

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