the ever elusive 1882 issue with a ‘No H Variety’
Baldwin’s recently resumed its Auctions under its own independent banner, auction 103 was held on the 6th of October in our fully refurbished auction room here at the Strand premises, picking up from auction 102, which had been held on the 4th October 2016. One, if not the main highlight was that of an 1882 Young head Bronze Penny without a ‘H’ mark in the exergue. The ‘H’ indicates the Heaton mint in Birmingham and is the commonly seen type across the dealing desk during group valuations. The ‘No H Variety’ is rarely seen, in more cases than others the ‘H’ has worn away or shows fade under closer inspection in good light. In the hugely rare instances when we are presented with a true example, they are mostly in circulated fair condition.
The ever evasive without ‘H’ type is excessively rare, part of Penny folklore, seldom appearing within auction timetables or in dealers trays, irrespective of grade. The R17 grade attached to it by Michael Freeman in his more or less definitive book ‘The Bronze coinage of Great Britain,’ (Spink, first published 1970, reprinted 2006) essentially translates to 16-50 examples known, of these, the examples in higher grades would number a proverbial handful and are difficult to quantify.
Baldwin’s were lucky enough to put forward a choice uncirculated specimen into our auction, which had further been corroborated by PCGS, scoring a Mint State 64 Brown [MS64BN]. The consensus, from the outset, from all who were in the office the day the coin arrived, was that Lot 175 was indeed an outstanding coin, uncharacteristically well struck for the issue. The Spink Coins of England guide only gives rough values for this exact type in fine (£1500) and very fine (4750), the higher grades are simply marked with a hyphen. Lot 175 had an estimate of £16,000 – 20,000 and quickly reached a lofty height of £30,000, without taking into account the buyer’s premium, which would equate to an astonishing £37,200, unprecedented for a Victorian Penny.
In more cases than others this exact type presents in fair condition to fine, with very fine examples hammering at £7,000 without the premium, even good fair examples having dazzling estimates of £2750-3250. In the Bronze Penny series of Victoria, the 1882 without Heaton mark is part of small select and exclusive group of rarities, often mentioned in the same breath as the 1863 Die number types (die number 2, 3, 4, 5) the 1877 narrow date (Dies 8 & H Freeman reference 90), the 1860 heavy flan and the 1862 with Halfpenny numerals
- “Fabled ‘No H’ Victorian penny sold for £37,200” – By David Brown, The Times 11/11/21
- “At 37K rare coin sells for a pretty penny” – By Jeremy Armstrong, The Mirror, 12/11/21
- “Rare penny originally bought for £1k fetches £37k at auction ‘Delighted!” – By Rebecca Miller, Daily Express, 12/11/21
- Freeman, Michael – ‘The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain’ p 46 : ref 112 – Obverse die 11/ Reverse die N
- British Numismatic Journal 4, 1907 : ‘The Bronze Coinage of Queen Victoria’ A. E. Weightman, R. N.