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The Sussex Collection (1649 – 1935)

A distinguished and vast selection of Silver Crowns spanning several Royal houses, from the Commonwealth to the House of Windsor. 

The Sussex Collection, in many ways, is a model template of how to assemble a coin collection. It contains all of the unwritten and oral traditions of the classic collector-cum-numismatist, the components auction houses and dealers avidly seek out: 

  1. A sequential chronology
  2. A strict focus on a single denomination
  3. A theme with a mixture of rarity, covering currency pieces and proofs
  4. Several uncharacteristically high-quality pieces
  5. A tight grip on the importance of date variety (this is best seen in the later Victoria Jubilee and Old veiled bust pieces) and lastly,
  6. Holistically shows a well-thought-out tapestry and equally an abundance of patience, time and skill.

Often these large collections can have a tendency to lose their character but this is not the case here. The quality and eye of the initial collector are analogous to the exceptional collection created. 

Notable pieces

Some of the more notable pieces include; (160) Commonwealth Crown of 1656/4, a (162) ‘Dutch copy’ Cromwell piece, an exceptional (168) Charles II 1672 Qvarto edge, an (170) James II 1688 Qvarto crown leading on to (172) the William & Mary with a superb 1691 issue five shilling, and an extremely rare (176) 1697 William III Third bust issue. 

Moving into the last Stuart Monarch on offer is a superlative (178) Anne, 1703 ‘Vigo’ Crown, one of the strongest the cataloguer has had pass through his hands.  

The House of Hanover features a first-rate (187) George I 1720/18 roses and plumes type moving on to (192) George II, a 1735 roses and plumes more or less as struck, traced back to Van Roekel and the Pellegrino sales. 

(198) An absolutely crisp and well-preserved example of a George II Lima Crown of 1746, is hugely popular among all types of collector. Into George III’s reign, we have an uncirculated (204) 1818 LIX piece, seldom seen in this grade followed by a well-toned and impressive (205) 1819 Crown forming part of his last or new coinage. 

Pushing forward in time to 1820 with the accession to the throne of the Prince Regent, on display is a rare (208) George IV 1821 Proof issue Crown, seldom seen in any grade; leading on to the rare (211) 1826 Bare head Proof Issue, graded and encapsulated by NGC as Proof 63.  

The Victorian arrangement of Crowns is hugely impressive in that it has its focus on key and rare types, but simultaneously shows an academic eye in its meticulous assortment of more common dates, demonstrated in the Jubilee and Old head Crowns.

Introduced with a striking and rare 1839 young head Proof, graded and encapsulated by NGC with a score of proof 64, three Gothic Crowns, two Undecimo edges and one of which is the very rare (217) plain edge issue.

As the collection comes to a close an enticing (224) 1893 Proof Old head Crown is in place, initially offered only as part of the wider proof sets of the year; followed by a more or less sequential run of the old head currency types, most impressive.  

Lastly, in George V’s reign, we have several wreath Crowns on offer ranging from 1927, 1929, 1930 and 1933, followed by two (246 & 247) 1935 Raised edge Proofs, with a mintage of only 2,500 for the year and type.   

#160 

It is a trying task to narrow down the key pieces of the aforementioned collection. However several pieces quite quickly appeared extraordinary in their strike and preservation. The Commonwealth Crown of 1656/4 is a particularly well-struck example, not suffering from the normal flan edge flaws or weaknesses, containing a great combination of eye appeal in its iridescent toning, complimented by the symmetry of the inner and outer beaded borders, and cross-hatching on the shields. As elaborated in the official catalogue description, the red wax in more cases than others suggests it had once been a plate coin. 

#162 

The Dutch Copy Cromwellian Crown dated 1658 but using dies created before 1700, is perhaps the rarest coin within the collection, a genuine numismatic rarity. The standard-issue 1658/7 with its characteristic die flaw is the normal type that surfaces in dealers’ trays or at auction, the Dutch copy and its counterpart the Tanners crown seldom appear. The simplest way to differentiate this ‘Dutch copy’ Crown from the more common 1658/7 Crown are as follows; i) die flaw omitted ii) the ‘N’ in ANG is inverted, iii) the top leaf of the laurel points to the first limb of the aforementioned N, iv) the portrait is leaner if not gaunt in the face. A bold example, extremely rare. 

#168 

Moving into Charles II and the restoration we have an exceptional 1672 Crown on offer, a third bust issue, Vicesimo Qvarto edge. In more cases than others, there is a pronounced weakness in part of the hair, this example is more or less complete in its detail, it is indeed these subtle intricacies of detail and refinement which push a coins grade up, making an otherwise non-rare coin, become rare by virtue of its condition. In the proverbial flesh, and under a loupe a truly superb example. 

#172 

The William & Mary Crown of 1691, an unusually well-struck example of a two-year type for the Crown denomination. The conjoined busts are unique in that they are the only conjoined busts in English milled coinage, that date configuration is innovative, and the handsome Lion of Nassau paying tribute to William of Orange’s lineage. A complete example, all the major details in place, no signs of wear on good stable metal, free from problems. Hardly seen in top tier grades, with the exception of titled sales. 

#176 

William III 1697 Nono edge third bust Crown; this exact year and type is recorded as extremely rare, the book price in extremely fine is a mouthwatering £45,000, dropping to £10,000 in very fine. They are all currency issue strikes and do not hold the allure of a pattern or proof. Nevertheless, an incredibly rare type, in a way epitomising the wider collection; a quest for quality, chronology and rarity.    

#178 

Into Queen Anne’s reign, we have an especially well-struck, if not exceptional example of a Vigo 1703 Crown. The Vigo Bay series of the coin do crop up in various denominations, however, very rarely in such condition. Classic cabinet toning, free from any adjustment marks or metal striations, the faintest of hairlines and nicks. Portrait first-rate with a fully centred strike, giving near full coverage of the toothed borders, no weakness in the high points. A hugely popular series in English coinage, as are the E.I.C, Lima, SSC and Welsh Copper Company pieces in various nearby reigns. 

The Battle of Vigo Bay took place on 23rd October 1702, during the initial years of the Wars of Spanish succession. Simplified, it essentially began, or had its origins with an Anglo-Dutch attempt to capture Cadiz, a Spanish port town, with the wider intent to secure possessions or gain territory along the Iberian peninsula; opening the door to the Western Mediterranean sea, or at the least to capture the important straits. The attempt to capture Cadiz had been unsuccessful and ill-thought-out if not ham-fisted; nevertheless, as Admiral George Rooke had made his way home (English commander in the operation) he received intelligence that a Spanish treasure fleet from the Americas had entered Vigo Bay, Spanish waters. Rooke’s opposite number in the initial Cadiz fiasco, the Dutch commander Philips Van Almonde, had encouraged an English attack of the treasure fleet. The siege had been a success, despite a considerable amount of the booty being offloaded in the process. The battle treasure mainly constituted of Silver (thousands of pounds in weight) with hardly any Gold. The captured precious metal made its way to the Royal Mint, to be used to mint coins of various denominations, hence, the ‘Vigo’ insignia. 

#187 

George I 1720/18 Crown: For the House of Hanover this coin is perhaps the highlight. Recognised as a rare type, an excellent combination of toning, underlying mint bloom, detail and elaborate design on a high-quality flan. The over-date in place, making it recognisably rarer, a high-quality example, complete and bold with undeniable eye appeal. 

#192 

For George II, the 1735 young head Roses and Plumes is a sharply struck arresting piece, with a fully rounded flan and much of its original mint brilliance with a depth and consistency normally associated with a proof or specimen. Attached and hailing from a strong provenance in Van Roekel and the Pellegrino sales. A definite highlight in the collection. 

#208 

The 1821 George IV Proof Crown, rarer than the books perhaps suggest, several over the years have been mistaken as ambiguous proof issues, due to the high quality polished dies used for currency issues, (this same issue arises with later Victorian double florins, many appear proof-like but are indeed currency, highly polished well-crafted dies can mimic the aesthetic of a Proof). A magnificent coin, with depth, weight, details and clearly identifiable raised edge inscriptions, even when at half arm’s length without the assistance of a magnifier.    

#211 

One of the key Crowns on offer can be found in our 1826 Proof Bare head Crown, encapsulated and graded at proof 63. Maurice Bull lists them as Patterns included in the wider 1826 Proof sets. This design is only offered in 1825 (plain edge: extremely rare) and 1826 Septimo edge for the bare head portrait, becoming increasingly difficult to source in high quality. Often cited as having one of the strongest reverses in Silver coinage, a complex garnished quartered shield of arms, the polar opposite to the George and Dragon reverses found in the laureate head crowns preceding this type. Rare and pleasing. 

#212 

Lastly, perhaps the most impressive single item in the collection is a graded 1839 plain edge, young bust proof crown of Victoria. A superb example, exemplifying the ability of William Wyon (Royal Academy), consistent detail in the hair, well-toned, clear fields, the quartered shield of arms concise, no real detracting factors. These coins would have been part of Victoria’s coronation set which contained the celebrated Una and the Lion (Edmund Spenser ‘Faerie Queene’) five-pound piece, (a delayed set celebrating her coronation on the 28th June of 1838 at Westminster Abbey). 


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