Morton & Eden Ltd
Auction 127  12 Jun 2024
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Lot 133

Starting price: 16 000 GBP
Price realized: 17 000 GBP
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Victoria, proof 'Gothic' crown, 1847, struck in pure silver in medallic alignment ↑↑, with plain edge, n over inverted n in unita, 28.00g (Bull 2578a; E.S.C. 291A; S. 3883), characterised by a shallow surface blemish in obverse field behind the Queen's head, otherwise choice mint state, attractively toned and extremely rare, in NGC holder graded PF62 ULTRA CAMEO Provenance: Presented to Sir George Biddell Airy, K.C.B., F.R.S. (1801-92); thence by direct descent.In 1835 Sir George Biddell Airy was appointed as the seventh Astronomer Royal, a position in which he was to serve with great distinction for more than 45 years. Aside from the wide-ranging discoveries and important scientific advances which he achieved during his long life, he became closely involved with a number of topical discussions of the age. These included the debate on the proposed adoption of decimal currency in Great Britain, of which he became a staunch advocate; he may well have received this coin during a visit to the Royal Mint in the early 1850s, when fellow astronomer and polymath Sir John Herschel was its Master.A recent letter from the Royal Mint Museum, a copy of which is included with the lot, confirms that the coin is struck in pure silver and offers the opinion that the spot on the obverse was caused by 'some form of inadvertent surface contamination'. This might have been some kind of acid or possibly mercury, much used by Airy in his well-documented development of various measuring devices. Also known as 'quicksilver', mercury causes a chemical reaction when in contact with gold and silver.
Estimate: 20000 - 30000 GBP
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