William IV (1830-37), Proof Crown, 1831, by William Wyon, bare head facing right, W.W incuse on truncation, legend reads GULIELMUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: toothed border both sides. Rev, quartered shield of arms with crowned arms of Hanover at centre, all within order of the garter upon crowned robed mantle, date below ANNO 1831, edge plain (Bull 2462; ESC. 271 R2; S.3833). Superb, as struck with an exquisite iridescent silver grey toning, seldom seen this choice. Encapsulated and graded by PCGS as Proof 64.
The silver crowns of George II were in effect the last such coins issued with the intention that they would be used in commerce. By the late 1740s, the Bank of England’s paper money had assumed the role formerly occupied by these large silver pieces. During the silver shortage of the period of the Napoleonic Wars, and the resulting hoarding of hard money, the crown of 5 shillings’ value temporarily returned to commerce, first as overstruck foreign silver coins (mainly Spanish) and then as Bank Dollars, both types produced on contract with the Soho Mint at Birmingham. When the New Coinage commenced in 1816 for silver and 1817 for gold, the largest silver piece issued for commerce was the halfcrown. The silver crown did not appear until 1818 and it was not distributed as an intended circulating medium but instead was sent to the Bank of England for distribution to commercial banks wrapped in tissue paper – as a special type of New Coinage money aimed at collectors. Most pieces of course were not well preserved even though they did not generally circulate (though some did); they were mishandled, picking up trivial marks and worse. The same situation existed for the next king’s silver crowns, those made in 1821 and 1822, which then became the last non-proof crowns until Victoria’s first pieces of 1844. Among these, the 1831 proof crowns made for William IV’s coronation sets are most difficult to locate today. The mintage was not recorded but was likely no more than a few hundred pieces in all. This is an important coin for crown collectors.