William IV (1830-37), Proof silver Crown, 1834, W.W. incuse on truncation for William Wyon, legend surrounds GULIELMUS IIII DG BRITANNIAR REX FD, toothed border around rim, both sides. Rev, inverted die axis, quartered shield of arms with a crowned escutcheon of the Arms of Hanover struck in the central panel, within Order of the Garter upon crowned robed mantle, date below ANNO 1831, edge plain (Bull.2465 R5; ESC.275 R5; S.3833; L & S. 6).
An excessively rare type coin for the discerning Crown collector, classic proof mirrored fields, the reverse outstanding, frosted and displaying a pronounced cameo field effect. Superb as struck. Encapsulated and graded by PCGS as Proof 64 Cameo. Seldom seen on the open market.
In the pages of ‘English Proof and Pattern Size Crown pieces’ first published by Spink & Son Ltd in 1968 by H.W Linecar and A.G. Stone, we are quite swiftly acquainted with the rarity of the 1834 Proof Crown. In 1891 one was sold via the Montagu sale catalogue, lot 1095 achieving £32 10s, described as ‘mint condition, extremely rare of this date’, this piece was provenanced back to the Bergne and Brice collections. In the Wakely sale (1909), Nobleman sale (1922), R.C Lockett (1927), Hamilton Smith (1927), Paget (1946), H.M Lingford (1950), Nightingale (1951), Whetmore (1961) and Glendining’s sales of 1962 and 1965 we again see an 1834 Proof Crown going to hammer. In some of these sales the same coin journeyed back into the auction room, the Whetmore Crown was bought via the earlier Nightingale sale, giving us a direct provenance link. The aforementioned sales are acknowledged within numismatic circles as being blue-blooded respected Auctions. Also, to achieve £32 and 10 shillings in the 19th century pays tribute to just how fierce the market demand would have been for these coins. Even as far back as 1891, when the coin by numismatic standards would still have been considered as relatively modern, achieving such a high price, taking out of account its rarity for a moment, purely looking at the date of issue.
Often previously catalogued as a Pattern or a presentation issue, as it is identical to the 1831 Crown, with a mere date shift to 1834. More recently, however, the ever elusive 1834 Crown featured in the Norweb collection (1985) the 2001 Van Roekel Crown collection, Slaney collection (2003/2015) and the Marshall Collection of 2004 – such is its extreme rarity, of five to ten known. When tracking the 1834 Crown, we only can build up a rudimentary picture by drawing a synthesis together of all the previous sales, there is also no definitive information to hand demonstrating how many times the same coin went in and out of Auction, or via private treaty; other than the Whetmore by way of Nightingale example, previously cited.
A note on the wider series of Pattern and Proof Crowns for William IV.
An undated Pattern Crown has been recorded of the same style with potentially 3-4 examples known, of the highest rarity. A Pattern Crown undated struck in lead, perhaps unique, has been noted (Nobleman Sale – 1922, lot 214, £9 ‘extremely fine and probably unique’). The 1831 Proof Crown still considered very rare, is the entry level Crown in this particular series, these would have initially been issued as part of the 14 coin Coronation Proof Set, we also have a complete 1831 Proof set in our live stock at present. An 1831 Crown struck in Gold had also been minted with an equivalent rarity to our 1834 Crown in Silver; this being the R5 designation, attributed by P.Alan Rayner in his comprehensive book ‘English Silver Coinage since 1649.’
Furthermore, a Pattern 1834 Crown with a grained and inscribed edge reading ‘DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI QUINQUAGESIMO SEPTIMO’ with the stops taking on the appearance of roses. This translates to ‘An ornament and safeguard. In the fifty seventh year of our reign’ an edge reading lent from George III’s reign – this coin is believed to be unique, but warrants being mentioned, as part of the wider panoramic landscape of this series. A Robert Ready British Museum electrotype (1834 Proof Crown) has been documented, which featured in the J.F Checkley sale of the 10th of February 1965, lot 116, the electrotype alone hammered at £48 without buyers commission. A trial striking obverse Crown, undated in Silver with plain edges and a plain reverse is also known to exist (L&S 11) and a Pattern Reverse Crown of 1837 ‘Barton’s Metal’ has been recorded, with a plain obverse and an elaborate representation of the Royal arms to the reverse, with a suggested two known (L&S 12) this piece is said to be signed by Jean Baptiste Merlen (1769-1850) the acclaimed engraver/designer.