Great Britain - 5 Guinea 1701, Gold, WILLIAM III 1694–1702 Laureate bust right. Rev. four shields forming a cross; date above.S. 3456; Fr. 310.William of Orange was born at The Hague in November 1650. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, William the Silent (1533-1584), he became a Steward, or executive officer, of the United Netherlands. William III was best known as a persistent nemesis of Louis XIV, directing European opposition against his political ambitions. He married Mary Stuart and was invited to become joint monarch of England by Parliament, where he proceeded to depose his father-in-law James II, in a brief and bloodless affair nowadays known as the 'Glorious Revolution'.
The bank of England was established during his reign, and despite not wanting to be seen as a sole monarch, William ruled alone after Mary's passing until he died in 1702.
The essence of the Steward-King is beautifully captured in Five Guinea pieces, the highest denomination gold coins which were struck during William's reign. Being arguably the most beloved gold type, these coins are nowadays not only renowned for the refined style of the king's bust, but also for their association with Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), who was the master of the Royal Mint at the time. Throughout his numismatic tenure, Newton would apply his scientific mind to complete a transition that was already begun since the Renaissance, of departing from a shallow style of engraving and portraiture to one that suggested lifelike qualities. This ultimately led to what is, without argument, Newton's finest numismatic achievement, the deeply engraved 5 Guinea of 1701, an example of which is currently on offer.
With this offering, Schulman presents an uncommon opportunity for the advanced collector of the British gold series. This example certainly brings forth a wholesome rendition of the Steward-King, showing the impressive level of attentiveness that is bestowed on the monarch's portrait such as the individual curls of William's coifed hair or the pupil of the eye which is seemingly fixed in a contemplative stare. Toned with underlying brilliance, this piece reflects lustrous proof-like fields.
A complete example of this coveted one-year-only type fastened to an illustrious set of provenances
Ex. auction Heritage World 3035, 3-5 & 9 September 2014, lot 30783 (Law Collection) -> ex. auction Stack's, 7-8 December 1994, lot 2478 ("Collection of a Southern Gentleman").
Extremely rare and exceptionally well preserved. Encapsulated and graded by PCGS as MS 63, thus being the highest graded example at the time of writing.
RR PCGS MS63