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Director’s note: August 2020

Despite lockdown having been eased across most of the country, life is far from returning to normal. Public transport, the tubes, trains and buses are all eerily quiet and the main high streets are far less busy than usual, with many retail outlets still not opening their doors.

Here at Baldwin’s, however, our doors are well and truly open and business is as usual.

We have welcomed many visitors to our newly refurbished premises over the last four weeks and have even issued a new, printed, Fixed Price List far sooner than usual, which focuses on ancient and British coins. The new list has been extremely well received with over half the coins selling in only a matter of days.

All the UK coin fairs have remained cancelled, though there are plans to hold some of the more regular events later on in the year. It was to the disappointment of many that this year’s annual September Coinex event, the United Kingdom’s biggest coin fair, has been cancelled.

We still want to give you, our clients, the opportunity to view the coins that we would have offered at the coin fair. It is our plan that during the days Coinex would have been held we will hold our own “Virtual Coinex” whereby we will create digital and hard copy lists of all the new stock we would have been exhibiting, and a special section of our website for the event.

This online event will take place from the 25th to the 28th September, and is not to be missed. 

The coin market remains robust and if anything quality items seem to be only increasing in value judging by the UK and International auctions. Recent examples include a common but choice example of a Charles I Unite hammering at $34,000 plus premium, a typical but high-grade James I Laurel realising $32,000 plus premium and an utterly breathtaking 1768 Pattern Two guineas selling for a monumental $384,000. These are just a few of the record prices achieved recently.

All the remaining items from our Fixed Price List have now been uploaded to the website and are available for viewing.

Philip and Mary, gold Angel, 1557-58.
A very rare piece.

One item, in particular, I would like to highlight is the extremely rare Philip and Mary Angel in superb condition. A very underrated coin, this was the highest denomination gold coin in Philip and Mary’s reign. They were only struck for about a year between 1557-58. It is believed that less than 50 of these angels exist today, this total encompasses both museum trays as well in private collections.

This example is one of the strongest examples known and a comparable example realising over £36,000 including premium makes this specimen an extremely attractive proposition and can only be good value in the current market.

Philip and Mary (1554-58), Gold Angel, Class IV
View the coin
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Gold Starter of Lysimachus King of Thrace, with the portrait of Alexander the Great
Struck c. 323-281 BC
View the coin

Additionally, our current Fixed Price List contains a wonderful piece of ancient gold. This stater of Lysimacus was issued in the decades following the death of Alexander the Great. It is one of the few gold coins to feature the portrait of the legendary, deified Macedonian King. A similar example sold at a US auction for a staggering $26,000, before buyer’s premium is added. Though encapsulated and with an impressive grade, it didn’t appear a world away from the delightful piece we have available here, and ours is a fraction of the price, at a mere £5,950. 

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Protecting your collection

Protecting your collection is a separate subject in itself. Valuable coins should be insured and stored securely in a safe at home, or in a safety deposit box.

Storing and handling your coins

If you have your coin collection at home, take care in storing and handling the coins. Coins are sensitive to moisture. Dropping them will cause damage and affect their value. Even handling them carelessly will make a difference. Hold coins by the edge when inspecting them. Your skin contains a corrosive salt that will damage copper and bronze coins and potentially tarnish silver ones.

Should you clean your coins?

Generally speaking, coins should not be cleaned. Cleaning will result in abrasion to the coin’s surfaces. It could remove what may otherwise have been a valuable patina or lustre. Any form of treatment of this sort can more than half the value of the item. The risk is just not worth taking. An expert can easily detect treatment of this sort.

In numismatics, the study of coins, it helps to have an understanding of the historical context of the period and country you propose collecting. This can make your collecting more subtle and informed.

The following are brief thumbnail sketches of some of the collectable markets. Baldwin’s staff can help with more detail on the markets that interest you.

Britannia first appeared on Roman coins. This copper As of Antoninus Pius (138-161) may have been struck at a mint in Britain, and depicts Britannia solemn in defeat.
Coins were struck in Roman London from the late 3rd Century BC onwards. This coin of Constantine the Great depicts the emperor in military attire. The mintmark (PLN) on the reverse refers to the Mint of London. Coins from the London Mint are not, on the whole, rare, and examples (in various grades) are available at any almost price point.
The Byzantine Empire continued on after the Roman Empire had fallen in the West. Coins were produced across the Byzantine Empire, with its capitol at Constantinople. Impressive busts of Christ appear on later coins, such as this gold Histamenon, issued by the emperor Constantine VIII (1025-1028).
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Minting tools on Roman coins

By no means the highest-ranked position in the political landscape of the Roman Republic, the role of moneyer was nonetheless considered an honour for many of the men who took on the task. The Triumvir Monetalis (three young politicians acting simultaneously) was responsible for the production of coins.

During the Republic and early years of the Empire, the names of moneyers appeared on many coins issued into circulation. It is thanks to the coins of the Roman Republic that we know the names of hundreds of individuals whose job it was to maintain the integrity of the sacred money of the state, during the 2nd and 1st Centuries BC. 

Moneyers appear to have been awarded a relatively large degree of freedom, during the 1st Century, at least, when it came to the designs which adorned their coins. While many Republican issues struck in the 2nd Century BC bear similar imagery (frequently seen helmeted busts of Roma juxtaposed with the galloping chariots) it seems that many were required to include their names on the coins.

This would have served as a way to examine the quality of the coinage produced and ensure that no corners were cut, or worse. But Romans also liked, very much, to be remembered, and the position of moneyer would have allowed the ambitious Roman a permanent historical mark in metal – his name remembered for years or in this case, millennia, to come. The collectors of Roman Republican coinage ensure that these obscure Roman statesmen are not forgotten. 

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Republican denarii from the 2nd Century BC often depict portraits of Roma and speeding quadrigas. Note the names of the moneyers.
View the coin

This brings us to a particularly interesting coin issued by the Titus Carisius, in 46 BC. This silver denarius (Crawford 464/2) is one of a handful of types issued by the moneyer in that year. What makes this coin interesting is that it is one of the only coin types from the ancient world to depict the actual tools used in the production of coins. Carisius’ other coin types are relatively orthodox: one depicts the head of Roma and objects of state (Crawford 464/4b), another, the portrait of Victory and a galloping quadriga (Crawford 432/1) and finally, an equally unusual piece depicting a griffin (Crawford 464/1).

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The portrait of Juno Moneta appears on the obverse of this silver denarius. On the reverse: Silver denarius of T. Carisius depicting the tools used in coin production.

We can presume that the Titus Carisius felt particularly strongly about his role as moneyer, and was perhaps very proud of the fact. It would seem he was the first member of the Roman family, the Gens Carisia to achieve such a title. This coin is not content with merely showing his role as moneyer in Latin. The tools of the job – obverse and reverse dies, hammer and tongs take up the entire reverse design. The tongs for holding the hot, metal blanks, the obverse and reverse dies and finally the hammer used for striking are all depicted in meticulous detail. To show the sacred importance of coins to the Romans (and the significance of Carisius’ role as moneyer), the obverse die is garlanded with a wreath.

The fact that the minting tools appear on the reverse, or back, of the coin shows that they were second in importance only to the portrait of a goddess. Juno Moneta was the goddess believed to protect the Romans’ coinage. The word ‘money’ can be traced back to her. Coins were struck in the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. It was from this religious site and mint that the vast majority of Republican coins were issued. The very fact that Roman money was protected by the goddess made coins in the Roman world sacred items or Sacra Moneta. The concept of having one’s name stamped on a sacred object, as well as one which would last the test of time, must have made the role of moneyer incredibly satisfying to the eager and ambitious Roman politician.

See the coin

Browse more Roman Republican Denarii

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Earl St. Vincent’s Reward, AV medal 1800

Earl St. Vincent’s Reward, AV medal 1800 (47mm.) by C. Kuechler after Flaxman, in gold braced lunettes all within a contemporary red velvet lined, brown leather box.

Uniformed bust of Adml. Jervis l., EARL ST VINCENT’S TESTIMONY OF APPROBATION 1800. Rev. Naval Officer and enlisted sailor shaking hands, with a backdrop of the Union flag, all within an oaken wreath. Box of brown leather with red velvet interior and two working catches. (BHM 489; E 019).

Good Extremely Fine (protected by lunettes), box sound and in undamaged condition.

View the medal

When the British fleet under Admiral Sir John Jervis defeated a much larger Spanish fleet under Admiral Don José de Córdoba y Ramos near Cape St. Vincent, Portugal in February 1797, Jervis was made Baron Jervis of Meaford and Earl St Vincent and was granted a pension for life of £3,000 per year. Three years later he presented the medal above, but in silver and bronze, to those officers and sailors who followed him from his flagship ‘Victory’ to his next to the ‘Ville de Paris’, and remained loyal to him during the mutiny at the Nore (which involved over 10% of the seamen in the Royal Navy !).

A specimen in gold was presented to George III and is now in the British Museum and there is also another gold example in the National Maritime Museum – this specimen having the raised inscription around the edge reading: +(SOHO)+ STRUCK AT THE MINT OF MATTHEW BOULTON.

It is not precisely known how many gold specimens were made or whom else they were given – he did later give a few out to friends who provided him some service but the number is very small. We do know however, that the medal was designed by Lady Spencer and this fact is recorded in correspondence to her from Jervis in June 1801.

The unknown recipient of this piece obviously revered it and had it glazed and set in a gold brace that it could be worn without damage or wear and the box was specifically made to hold it.

It is excessively rare and presented in this way – in its contemporary lunettes, bound by a golden brace, the medal is not harmed and so is in pristine condition.

A very handsome and important piece of British naval history.

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Proof coins and sets

A proof coin is the highest quality of coin the Royal Mint produces. These coins are distinct from the regular production run currency coins and are produced in very small numbers to be given to VIPs as high-quality examples of a particular year of issue. 

Historically, they were issued in sets, often to mark the issue of coins for a new monarch or a change in the design of coinage. In other instances, proof coins were struck in different metals as trials or experiments. They are consequently attributed to a much higher value than regular issues.

Proof coins are struck using hand-finished dies that are highly polished – resulting in the pieces having brilliantly reflective fields and sharper, often frosted images. High quality and polished blanks are positioned by hand and these are struck multiple times, at a slow speed and pressure.  

This meticulous process can take up to an hour to strike 50 proof coins in contrast to regular issues which can see some 3,000 coins an hour manufactured. The resulting products are superior quality examples with sharp images, mirror-like fields and sharp rims which are then often displayed in a plush box to add to their ‘luxury’.

1834 William IV Proof Crown

In the present, proof sets are issued by the Royal Mint every year and struck in greater and greater numbers specially for coin collectors (numismatists). This detracts from their traditional, historical exclusivity. Previously, in the last two centuries, they were issued very specifically with the function of heralding new designs in the coinage.  In fact, the term ‘proof coinage’ originally referred to the special initial samples, or specimens, of a coin issue made for checking the dies and for archival purposes.

The first official British milled proof set was issued during the reign of King George IV in 1826, followed by the 1831 proof set in King William IV’s reign. Queen Victoria’s reign saw four official proof sets issued; in 1839 to commemorate her ascension to the throne, 1853 featuring the Gothic crown and florin, 1887 to reveal the new ‘Jubilee Head’ design and 1893 to celebrate the new ‘Old Head’ design. Sets were issued in 1902 for King Edward VII, 1911 for King George V, and in 1936 for Edward VIII. This is by far the rarest set due to Edward’s abdication. 

Only two of these sets are available in the public domain, with one having been split up and the individual coins sold separately. In 1937 a proof set was issued for the abdicated king’s brother, who had become King George VI. 1953 saw an official proof set for Queen Elizabeth II but in recent times the Royal Mint now produce proof sets every year. 

All early proof sets have increased significantly in price since the early 2000s. Specifically, a look at auction prices between 2002 and 2018 for the 1831 Proof set reveals they have increased by up to 5 times their value in a 16 year period.

With a 2020 catalogue value of £120,000, this is a set that still has great potential to increase in price further.

1831 Proof Set

Click to view

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Now opening with new hours

NOW OPENING WITH NEW HOURS

Dear friends

All of the team at Baldwin’s continue to wish you and your family good health through these challenging times.

In recent months we have not only been working to continue to provide you with great levels of service and some of the most interesting selection of new coins but also getting our newly refurbished building at 399 Strand ready. We are very pleased to be able to announce that from Monday, June 29th we will be open to the public, featuring the Baldwin’s Coin Room, and various displays of some of the world’s most interesting coins and related items and artefacts.

We are also changing our opening hours in order to try and make it easier for people to come and visit us.

As of Monday, our new opening hours will be: 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, Monday to Saturday, with the Baldwin’s Coin Room open 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

For those of you who aren’t able to visit us in person, we are also extending our video call service if you wish to view any of our items remotely or speak to one of our experts. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

We look forward to being able to continue to serve you in pursuit of your hobby and wish you good health.

Graham Shircore & Neil Paisley

rEQUEST A VIDEO CONSULTATION

Request a video call

For those of you who aren’t able to visit us in person, we are also extending our video call service if you wish to view any of our items remotely or speak to one of our experts.


Previous Announcements

We look forward to welcoming you again

Published June 13

Following the Government’s most recent announcements, I am very pleased to be able to update you on our plans for reopening our new and much-improved store at 399 Strand, while doing all we can to keep both our customers and staff safe.

From June 15th we will be open for people to visit us by pre-arranged appointment, followed two weeks later on June 29th by the full opening of all three floors of the building. This includes our new Baldwin’s coin room and display areas as well as a completely new shop on the ground floor.

We are very excited by this but rest assured, we will be implementing a range of measures to keep everybody safe including the use of floor markers, hand sanitiser, plastic screens and additional cleaning. We will also continue to minimise staff levels on site while doing all we can to offer you the very best level of service.

If you would like to make an appointment to come and see us prior to June 29th, please contact us or get in touch with a Baldwin’s representative. The Baldwin’s team remain available to speak with you and answer any queries you may have throughout normal opening hours (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm).

We look forward to being able to welcome you to our new look home and wish everybody continued good health during these unprecedented times.

Graham Shircore
Group Chief Executive Officer

Neil Paisley
Managing Director

We’re still open

Published: April 11

Our store may be closed but our teams are working from home as much as possible, as per the government guidelines, in order to help halt the spread of Covid-19.

We are still very much open for business, taking orders, answering queries and despatching goods. We have implemented a new structure which will allow our teams to operate effectively remotely. Our colleagues and customer safety remain our top priority and we thank you for your understanding in this unprecedented situation we find ourselves in.

You can still:

Speak to our experts

If you would like to speak to our experts, please call +44 (0)20 7930 6879.

Send us an email

If you would rather email us, you can do so at coins@baldwin.co.uk and your query will be forwarded to the correct department.

Browse our newest stock

And of course, there is our website which is being updated with new items as they come in– feel free to browse our departments:

Learn about coins

Alternatively, if you are still new to the hobby or would like to introduce someone to numismatics why not visit our new-to-coin guide.

We look forward to assisting you however we can during these difficult times, please stay safe and healthy.

To all of our friends in the coin collecting world

Published March 13, 2020

As a near 150-year-old organisation, Baldwin’s has seen many challenging moments throughout its history. Witnessing the developments of Covid-19 has saddened us while at the same time has re-enforced our commitment to the two most important elements of our business, namely our colleagues and our customers. 

Over the last few weeks, we have been working continuously to ensure that we do all we can to protect everybody as much as possible while providing you with the best, most comprehensive service possible. 

The situation continues to change day by day, if not hour by hour. For the majority of this week, many of our staff have been working from home and this proportion will increase further. We have also operated a policy of staggered attendance on a team-by-team basis.

Throughout this time, all areas of our business have remained open but in order to further protect both our colleagues and customers, as of today we have reluctantly closed our shop in Central London on a temporary basis. The Baldwin’s team, however, remain willing and able to assist you by phone or email and distribution of our products, all of which are available online, is currently unaffected. We would love to hear from you if you are interested in buying, selling, or simply discussing the wonderful world of coin collecting. 

It is important to us that during this difficult time, we are seen to be doing all we can to help our customers and support our cherished hobby and we will continue to work tirelessly with this aim in mind. We are very aware that many of our clients will likely have to spend much more time at home than normal and we will endeavour to entertain you with more educational articles and blogs, posts on social media, informative and captivating videos and to continue to offer any advice or help that we can. 

This situation places a huge burden on all of us but by tackling and sharing that burden collectively, the hobby will emerge with a stronger sense of community and purpose than ever before. From everybody at Baldwin’s, we wish you and your family good health during this difficult time. 

Graham Shircore
Group CEO
Neil Paisley
Managing Director

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The coins of the Venetian Republic

The Venetian Grosso or Matapan was a silver denomination first introduced in Venice in 1193 under Doge Enrico Dandolo. Upon its conception, the Venetian Grosso contained 98.5% pure silver– the purest silver coin in Medieval metallurgy. These coins played a significant role in the economic prosperity of Venice, especially in international trade and funding of the Crusade Wars. 

Introduction of THE Grosso in Venice

Before the introduction of silver Grossi, Venice struck silver denari based on coinage of Verona that contained less silver of lesser quality. These Veronese counterparts were used primarily for domestic trade. For foreign trade, Venetian merchants preferred Byzantine coins or coins minted in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was not until Doge Enrico Dandolo that the coinage of Venetian Republic was reformed and improved. He introduced a higher denomination of fine silver called a Grosso. The name came from the term Denaro Grosso (large penny), also known as Matapan for the Muslim name for it. These new Grossi had major advantages over the older denominations; their minting and handling cost was lower and the higher purity of silver made them suitable for international trade.

Enrico Dandolo preaching the Crusade

Some scholarship suggests that the Venetian Grosso was introduced to pay for the ships needed for the Fourth Crusade, to transport the crusaders at the very beginning of the 13th century. Even though the coin was introduced some years earlier, it is safe to say that the costs and economy of the Crusade Wars led to its prominence and mintage on a large scale. Dandolo played a significant role in the promotion of the Fourth Crusade which led to the weakening of the Byzantine Empire and rise of Venice. It is interesting to imagine the rising power of Venice in parallel with the image of its distinguished leader Enrico Dandolo.  He is described as always on the front line of battles. It is said that at the conquest of Constantinople, he stood in the bow of his galley, armed and with the gonfalon of St. Mark’s in front of him. Indeed a powerful image and connection with the patron saint of Venice conveyed on the coinage too.

Capture of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade

The iconography of silver Grossi

An example of a later coin – silver Grosso of doge Andrea Dandolo
View the coin

These coins were a part of a wider range of reforms by Enrico Dandolo to strengthen the trade with the East. On the obverse, there is doge, wearing a cloak and holding the ‘ducal promise’ while St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, presents him with the gonfalon (banner). The legend on the left is the name of the doge, with his title DVX in the field. The legend on the right is S. M. VENETI – St. Mark of Venice. The reverse shows Christ enthroned, facing, with Greek abbreviation of his name: IC XC. The beaded border of these coins served to prevent clipping as a security measure. As another measure, doge Jacopo Tiepolo (who ruled from 1229 to 1249) added variations in the punctuation in the obverse legend and small marks near Christ’s feet on the reverse, which also served as mintmarks. The iconography of grossi remained the same for more than 150 years, with only minor changes.  

Silver Grosso of doge Antonio Venier
View the coin

However, in the late 14th century, the cost of silver increased which forced some doges to issue fewer Grossi or to stop issuing them altogether. The Grosso of Antonio Venier pictured above dates from this later period.  In the oncoming centuries, their weight continued to fall significantly. 

The influence of Grossi outside of Venice

Soon the popularity of silver Grosso rose and the other Italian mints started issuing their own versions. Among others, Verona, Bologna, Parma and Pavia all had coins of pure silver by 1230. Venetian Grosso became an important currency in the international trade known around the world for its quality. Imitations and forgeries became commonplace, especially in the parts under Venetian influence and rule such as Dalmatia. In Western Europe, the monetary system was based on the penny, a new era of larger silver and gold coins began; denominations that we know as groschen and groat all derive from the innovation brought upon by Venetian Grosso.

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The Coins of the Ancient Olympic Games

Few ancient sites conjure up the romantic ideals of antiquity as well as Olympia. Located close to the city of Elis in the Peloponnese, the sanctuary of Olympia is best known for the games which share its name. 

The inhabitants of Elis particularly revered two figures from the ancient Greek pantheon: Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the Gods. The great gold and ivory Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and survived for over a thousand years, drawing visitors from miles around. Coins struck at Olympia were produced from two main mints. These have been described by Seltmann (who studied the coinage in-depth) as ‘Zeus Mint’ and ‘Hera Mint’, for the most part, these two separate mints issued coins each Olympiad (the games were, of course, held every four years).

Foreign money was not accepted in Olympia, meaning that visitors would have to exchange their cash for these special issues, to spend during the games or take back with them. This could make the coins of Olympia some of the earliest ‘collectable’ coins. This currency served as a substantial source of revenue for the city, and funded the games. Coins of Zeus were modelled after the great statue and other designs included Nike, the personification of victory (a fitting motif for coins associated with the Olympic Games) and Zeus’ eagles – it is one of these coins that we’ll examine here.

Elis, Olympia, 108th Olympiad (348 BC). Silver Stater, Zeus Mint.

Animals attacking each other appear frequently in the numismatic record of the ancient world. One only needs to think back to the early gold and silver staters of the Lydian king Croesus – the earliest coins of these metals. They depict the Lydian lion facing off against a bull. Substantial silver tetradrachms from Akanthos in Macedon feature the design of a lion attacking a bull. And on the colossal decadrachms of Akragas in Sicily, the eagles of Zeus take pride of place, tearing at a hare. On this silver stater of Olympia, an eagle is shown grasping a ram.

The die engraver responsible for this stater has taken care to make the most of the coin’s natural shape. If we look past the initial, somewhat graphic design, we can see it is made up of four concentric circles. The first is the border of dots; a feature of many ancient coins. This tried and tested piece of design sets the boundary and (in theory) the edge of the coin. The dotted border on this particular coin also serves as the rim of an elaborately designed shield. The second circle is that of the shield’s body. We can see this as the high-relief mound which protrudes from the coin. It is upon this platform that the third circle can be seen: that of the motif itself, the centrepiece of the coin. 

While most animal fight scenes appear in a linear form – the design on this stater is well and truly incorporated into the fabric of the coin. The vicious depiction of an eagle attacking a ram is completely rounded. It decorates the shield as well as the coin and is perfectly framed. The eagle’s wings are closed and rounded in parallel with the curve of the shield, dotted border and the coin itself. Its neck and head are also curved smoothly and its piercing eyes focus on the viewer rather than the prey – perhaps a further symbol of Zeus’ divine power.

Elis, Olympia, 98th Olympiad (388 BC). Silver Stater, Zeus Mint.

The unfortunate ram is contorted to complete the design; forelegs are raised, belly curved and tail behind, almost touching the tip of the eagle’s wing. These circular features result in a near-perfectly balanced piece of exquisite coin art. 

Perhaps it is these subtle design decisions which make this very rare stater so pleasing, despite the morbid subject matter. The exact background to the scene of an eagle attacking a ram is uncertain. Zeus’ eagle was indeed an omen of victory – something everyone participating in the Olympics would have strived for. It is possible the ram represents the defeated.  I’ve talked about circles a lot in this examination and maybe the coin represents even deeper concepts. The perpetual struggle of the natural world, the cycle of competition. Perhaps the circle of life and death.

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The life of Philip the Good (1396-1467)

A miniature of Philip the Good by Rogier van der Weyden (1447-8), 
depicting Philip being presented with a History of Hainault by the author Jean Wauquelin

Philip the Good became Duke of Burgundy in 1419 when his father John the Fearless was assassinated on the bridge at Montereau during a diplomatic meeting.

Philip, grandson of Philip the Bold, became engaged at the tender age of eight to Michelle of Valois, daughter of the king of France, Charles VI, and was married four years later. Michelle died in 1422, and two years later Philip married his uncle’s widow, Bonne of Artois. His uncle Philip II of Nevers had been killed at the Battle of Agincourt, but Bonne died a year later.

In 1430 he married again, to Isabella of Portugal, the daughter of John I of Portugal and sister of Henry the Navigator. They had three sons, the youngest being Charles the Bold who succeeded him, and he had another 18 illegitimate children.

Isabella was an able administrator and great support to her husband, becoming increasingly involved in government and diplomacy, sometimes as regent in his absence – particularly so after Philip suffered a stroke following a game of tennis in 1458, and she nursed him for the rest of his life.

Because of French involvement in the assassination of his father, Philip formed an alliance with Henry V of England under the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. Two years later he was offered membership of the Order of the Garter, but he declined it, not wishing to offend his French overlord.

Instead, he created his own Order: the Order of the Golden Fleece was established on the occasion of his wedding to Isabella at Bruges in 1430. In the same year, Philip’s troops under the Count of Ligny captured Joan of Arc at Compiègne and handed her over to the English. She was tried and burnt at the stake in the following year at Rouen. His alliance with England was revoked by the Treaty of Arras in 1435 when he returned his allegiance to the French and recognised Charles VII as king of France. 

During his reign, Burgundy became a leading centre of the arts: he patronised many Flemish composers, no less than 176 artists, including Jan van Eyck, established a university at Louvain in 1425 and commissioned the purchase of over 600 illuminated manuscripts.

His extravagant lifestyle ensured that his court was seen as the most splendid of all Europe. He extended the territories of Burgundy considerably during his reign; the state of Burgundy reached its zenith during his reign and became dominant in north-west Europe, deriving its wealth through diplomatic alliance, annexation, tolls on a flourishing trade and merchandise and access to the credit facilities of banking houses.

At his height, he is said to have been the most influential man in Europe.

The gouden leeuw or ‘lion’ denomination (fineness .958), worth 30s 0d, was introduced in 1454 because of a rise in the price of gold and was abandoned soon after in 1460. The obverse design is derived from a Flemish coin of Louis de Male. The briquets or steels on either side of the Gothic canopy are the Burgundian emblems and also refer to the famous Order of the Golden Fleece, created by Philip, of which the insignia consists of a sheep suspended from a jewelled collar of firesteels in the shape of a B. The arms on the reverse are a combination of those of the French royal house of Valois,  Burgundy and the lion of Brabant.

This excellent example has an exceptional provenance, dating back to the famous Montagu collection, which was sold by Sotheby’s in London in a series of sales from 1896. 

View the coin

BELGIUM, Brabant, Philip the Good (1430-67), Lion d’or (gouden leeuw), ND (1454-6), Malines (Mechelen) mint, lion seated left under a Gothic canopy, briquets on either side, PhS DEI GRA DVX BVRG BRAB DNS ML. Rev. The Duke’s arms on a floriate cross, SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTVM AMEN (briquet), 4.21g (Del. 65; Witte II, 470; F. 29; cf Schneider III, 237 (but rev. legend ends ML); v G&H 3.1). Some weakness of strike as usual, good extremely fine, an excellent example; in NGC holder graded MS61, ‘ex Montagu collection’ on the label £3,500

Ex Schulman auction 237, 18 March 1963, lot 1125

Ex Montagu Collection