AU 53 | ENGLAND. William III, 1694-1702.
Gold 5 guineas, 1699. London. Elephant & Castle.
The rarest five guinea piece of William III. Described as 'very rare' in both Milled Coinage of England (1950) and by Maurice Bull (2022), this coin is in fact extremely rare. with fewer than fifty examples extant. The Samuel King Survey of 2005 found that just 29 examples of this issue had sold over a 45-year period making this amongst the rarest of the entire five guinea series. Of the small number sold in the past five years are two examples in GVF condition which have sold at auction in excess of £55,000. An example described as EF sold for £186,000 at auction in 2018.
First laureate bust of William III facing right, elephant below; GVLIELMUS · III · DEI · GRA ·. / Crowned cruciform shields, Lion of Nassau in centre, sceptres in angles, divided date above, abbreviated Latin legend around reads MAG · BR · FRA · ET · HIB · REX ·. UNDECIMO on edge.Attractive. Light wear and handling marks as indicated by grade. Elephant hallmark is strong and clear. Reverse better and very lustrous. In secure plastic holder, graded NGC AU 53, certification number 6614533-001.
Total NGC Census: 8, Total PCGS Census: 2.
Reference: Fr.311; Bull.395 [R2]; ESC.170 [VR]; GH.59 [R]; KM.505.2; S.3455
Diameter: 37 mm.
Weight: 41.6 g. (AGW=1.2266 oz.)
Composition: 917.0/1000 Gold.The Elephant and Castle Hallmark
The elephant and castle hallmark gives a historic depth and connection to this coin that is quite exceptional. A hallmark denotes that the metal content of a coin is from a particularly notable source such as war plunder or newly discovered mines. It is a device scarcely utilised in British coinage and evokes thoughts of modern commemorative issues, except in these instances the coins themselves are struck of the very history they wish to commemorate. Similar issues are coins of 1703 wearing a VIGO hallmark denoting they were struck with captured Spanish bullion, and the EIC coins denoting East India Company on the coins of George II. The symbol seen below the truncation of this coin however - an elephant supporting a castle upon its back – denotes that its gold content was exploited by the Royal African Company from the newly-discovered gold fields of West Africa. By the time this coin was struck, however, the mining operation was secondary to a far more profitable monopoly that the company held on slave trading along the coast of Western Africa. A difference between this coin and most others though is that it does not hide the exploitation it has been birthed from and authentically wears what it is for all to see.John Croker (1670-1741)
Johann Croker, who later anglicised his name to John, was born in Dresden, Saxony in 1690. As a child, Croker lost his father, an accomplished cabinet maker, and was then taken under the wing of his goldsmith and jeweller godfather. The budding artist flourished under this apprenticeship and upon its completion made his way to England, via the Netherlands, where he worked as a jeweller and medallist until becoming an assistant to Henry Harris, Chief Engraver of the Royal Mint, in 1697 – not long after a not-yet-knighted Isaac Newton joined the mint as Warden. In 1705, the same year Mr Newton became Sir Isaac, Croker was appointed as Chief Engraver.
Croker, working closely with Newton, engraved nearly all dies of Queen Anne, King George I, and many of George II. Few engravers have left as great an impact on British coinage as John Croker. In 1729, a 24-year-old John Sigmund Tanner (1705-75) was appointed his assistant. With Croker's death in 1741, Tanner carried on the torch of Chief Engraver.
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