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The Unique Gold Pattern Triple Unite of Charles I (1625-49)

On Thursday the 26th of September 2006 Baldwin’s Auctions held a sale in the Council Chamber of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a stones throw from the then Adelphi Terrace premises, a short walk from our Strand office today.

Entitled ‘One Hundred Numismatic Rarities’ set out on a slim understated mahogany red auction catalogue, each cover bathed in emblems of heraldry. A near perfect mix of armorial bearings set against a patterned regal backdrop, tapping into the duality of numismatics. This duality being a reverence for tradition and heritage, not just in the form of twee evocations of yesteryear, instead the tradition needs to be role specific, axiomatic, translating into quality. In this instance one hundred rarities across all provinces, succinctly catalogued with well positioned images.

Auctions are underpinned by few essential factors, none more significant than confidence in the calibre of the auction house and the quality of the coins under the hammer. The front cover showcasing the unique Triple Pattern Unite by Vanderdort, the back cover sporting an 1847 frosted proof Gothic Crown of Victoria and a nickel brass 1937 Threepence of Edward VIII.

The unique Pattern Triple Unite had been acquired by private treaty in 1930 by the Baldwin’s family, first mentioned publicly in the proceedings of the Royal Numismatic Society 1932 (R.N.C 1932, Vol 12, 5th series, page 14). The founder Albert had attended a meeting on the 19th May 1932 and displayed it to a group of coins and medals outlining the work of Thomas Simon and Simon De Passe.

The coin later found itself published in a British Numismatic Journal article (Volume 23, 1939, p 363) penned by the venerated C. A. Whitton. In this article Whitton cites Miss Helen Farquhar and her earlier work in 1908, where she had advocated that such a coin should exist, predicated on the evidence that Abraham Vanderdort had been appointed as medalist to Charles I, with a view to issue high relief patterns covering the pound, three-pound and five-pound denominations. Derek F Allen in the Numismatic Chronicle 1941-3 formalised and documented all of Farquhar’s work, the coin then lay dormant not appearing in print or discourse until Wilson and Rasmussen published their ‘English Pattern Trial and Proof Coins in Gold 1547-1968’ at the turn of the millennium.

Listed as unique, rarity 7 (R7) number 20, page 41, weighing 27.2 grams. There is a similar Pattern Triple Unite in the Hunterian museum collection struck with a different obverse die to our example weighing 27.07g, both issued with a mintmark Plume. The other piece that makes up the series is the ‘Pattern Five Unites’ (or Five Pounds) at 47.50g, struck with mintmark Rose, this is the Juxon medal, given to Bishop Juxon by Charles I on the scaffold. William Juxon, Bishop of London at the time (later to become the Archbishop of Canterbury at the point of the restoration) had been a key figure during the interregnum, he had been personally selected by Charles I to read him his last rights before his execution. One specimen is known for the Juxon medal [W&R 18, (R7), p.39] which resides in the British museum collection, all three attributed to Vanderdort.

Crowned draped and cuirassed bust left with falling lace collar, wire line and beaded circle, double-arched crown with frosted caul, diamond and pellet band, mint mark plume without bands (1630-1631), legend CAROLVS DG MAG BRIT FR ET HIB REX. Rev, crowned oval garnished shield of quartered arms, with quartered English and French arms in first and third quarters, Scottish lion in second quarter, Irish harp in fourth quarter, C and R in fields, legend FLORENT CONCORDIA REGNA.
Realised price £210,000 (without the premium).

Abraham Vanderdort hailed from a Dutch family of craftsmen arriving in England at around 1609 during James I’s reign. In 1625 he found appointment with the accession of Charles I to provide Patterns for the coinage of the realm.

Prince Henry, Charles I’s elder brother had previously commissioned him with a payment of fifty pounds, he also had previous dealings with Prince Rudolf of Prague and had been known to the King of Denmark, after painting his portrait. Vanderdort found himself sporadically employed by the Royal court under Charles I, holding specific posts connected to the Arts, later employed for life as one of the grooms of the Privy chamber.

Known for preparing the Catalogue of the Royal Collection at Whitehall which he finished in October 1639 (see, Ashmolean Museum Oxford – MS1514). Shortly after, a tragic end fit for a Marlowe play, Vanderdort had misplaced a portrait miniature, the sheer pressure and potential repercussions had led him to take his life. Later, his executors located the miniature after his demise.

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George II (1727-60) and the elusive Proof Sixpence of 1728

George II born on the 10th November 1683 at Herrenhausen, Hanover to George I and Sophia Dorothea, crowned at the age of forty-three in early October 1727, wedded Caroline of Ansbach (daughter of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach) and held his position until the 25th October 1760, where he died aged seventy six at Kensington Palace. The most recognized anecdotal reference to the King that one will witness being reinforced whether in television documentary, within a History seminar redbrick or otherwise, in any given municipal classroom up and down the land is that he ‘was the last British monarch to command his troops into battle, personally.’ Of course the aforementioned point is correct, veraciously so.

Nevertheless, his reign was not a cut and dried case study of valour and courage, or a nostalgic re-affirmation of Teutonic gallantry, far from it. His reign was arguably more than simply paying lip service or miming to ‘Rule Britannia’ despite this being part of the contemporary contextual underlay in England, the song itself first performed in his regnal years on the 1st August 1740, adapted from Thomson’s poem by Arne to music. In short, he was instrumental in making the Hanoverian dynasty acceptable in England, indeed War and Battle victories were not as simple they had initially seemed.

For instance the War of Austrian succession 1740-48, Austria and Britain forming one side and France, Spain and Prussia on the other. There were naturally dissenting voices at home questioning whether this War had been for Hanover’s sake as opposed to Britains. The victory of Dettingen in 1743, Walpole resigning a year earlier as William Pitt the elder climbed the ranks coming to fore, the natural Whig ascendancy (cf,. George Grenville, Pitt the elder – Patriot Boys movement siding with the Prince of Wales – Frederick, George’s son, never to be King).

Much was going on at home as abroad, in private discourse and in open battle, by fountain pen and by word of mouth. An elaborate set of events on the world stage, something of a balancing act, the need to strengthen Empire, an essential requirement to keep a handle on both Houses, Commons and Lords.

Towards the back end of his reign, we again see many of the same themes playing out. Robert Clive was showing a proclivity for victory and success, winning over the struggle for empire against the French, gaining more than a foothold in India. The Seven Years War [1756-63] saw Quebec taken out of French hands. A complex reign, in many ways laying the foundations of Empire, power and confidence struggles meshed in with foreign policy, intermittent diplomacy and regular military campaigns.

Insofar as numismatics are concerned, the natural denomination that comes to ones mind is that of his Gold Five Guineas, issued in date from 1729 to 1753, not as a comprehensive date run, more as eight individual dates within these year bookmarks. After the Five Guineas, interest goes in more cases than others into his Guineas (usually the young head types, then the overall rarity being the intermediate head Lima Guinea of 1745). Here I would like to bring a very rare coin into the fold.

GEORGE II (1727-60) PROOF SILVER SIXPENCE, 1728, PLAIN EDGE (R4)

The above coin is a plain edge proof issue of a 1728 Silver Sixpence. English Silver Coinage gives it a rarity value of R4, which in essence translates to ‘eleven to twenty examples’ known. A handful appearing in the coin archives systems running back to 1999. Cataloguers have been placing them in as very rare, however, as time goes on and the ink pots are ready to update the specialised handbooks; it stands to reason these will be considered as extremely rare when appearing under the hammer or in dealers trays. The currency issue 1728 6d is considered very rare (R2) let alone the plain edge proof. Struck using superior dies on choice blanks, our example boasts mirrored fields and classic unadulterated proof details. Rarely seen so well preserved, an essential addition to the discerning ‘Patterns and Proofs’ collector, for the House of Hanover enthusiast, equally enticing to the dedicated Sixpence collector.