£76,000 for a gold coin celebrating a great British victory: the Vigo 5-Sovereign

Just over a week ago, Baldwin's assisted St James's Auctions in their coin sale with some very successful results, especially in British gold coins.

It was surprising that Baldwin's had taken the time to be involved, as they had just carried out a two day auction consisting of the last section of The Michael Hall collection of medals and a more standard Ancient, English & World Coins, Commemorative Medals & Orders, Decorations & Medals sale.

Between them, the two sales offered 2,324 lots. Three stand-out lots were:

A gold triple unite coin from the reign of Charles I from the Oxford Mint, 1644. Regular readers may remember that there was a Charles I triple unite coin in the St James auction too which also performed well (the basic design is the same, but there are clear differences to the careful eye).

Charles I 1644 Triple Unite coin
Charles I 1644 Triple Unite coin

The coin, displaying a crowned and armoured half-length portrait of the King, left-facing, holding an upright sword in his right hand and a laurel branch in his left has an attractive red tone and achieved £62,000 against a £50,000 estimate.

A remember that Russian coin collecting is in rude health came in the form of a gold 37½-Roubles coin from the doomed reign of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.

 With light hairlines and marks, but otherwise extremely fine and rare, the piece was pushed up by excited bidders to double its £25,000 estimate, selling for £50,000 exactly.

However the top lot was a 1703 gold 5 Sovereign piece from the reign of Queen Anne, specifically from the famed Vigo run.

These were coined from gold captured by Admiral Sir George Rooke from a Franco-Spanish bullion fleet sheltering at Vigo Bay on 12 October 1702.

VIGO 5 Sovereign Piece coin
Vigo 5-Sovereign Piece coin ('Vigo' clear on obverse)

A Royal Warrant was issued to strike the captured bullion into coin and insert the word VIGO under the bust in permanent remembrance of the battle. Many different commemorative medals were struck as souvenirs.

Under the personal supervision of the Master of the Mint, Sir Isaac Newton, just under 4,500lb of silver was transported in great pageantry to the Tower Mint to coin a great quantity of Crowns, Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences.

However a mere 7lb and 8oz of gold was captured and used to coin a short run of 5-Guineas, Guineas and ½-Guineas. In almost very fine on the obverse and good/very fine on reverse, it was expected to sell for £60,000, but beat even this to fetch £76,000.



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