Charles I (1625-1649) Pattern Unite by Abraham van der Doort, mm. lis on each side, bare head l. in lace collar, value omitted, rev. jewelled crown over garnished oval shield, CR split at sides with each letter crowned, FLORENT CONCORDIA REGNA surrounding, wt. 7.47gms. (W&R22; N.2655). Good very fine, pleasing old-time gold toning, slight crease in fields, almost perfectly round flan, complete beading on each side within high plain rims, extremely rare (R5, no more than 10 known).
Ex. Capt. Vivian Hewitt.
Ex. Clarendon Collection.
Among the patterns of Charles I are a small number of gold pieces struck early in the reign, engraved by a man of great talent whose life is little understood. Craig tells us (page 146) that the engravers’ shop within the mint was full of ‘brawling and strife’ as the reign of James I faded away and that of the first King Charles began. Craig put it as well as anyone ever has: ‘Charles had not been a week on the throne when, on 2 April 1625, he added to the staff as Provider of Patterns or designer, Abraham van der Doort [sic], a medallist and keeper of the king’s pictures. Van der Doort’s designs, as might be expected, were in a relief too high to be practicable in coinage and he dropped back to the Court where in 1641 he turned from hanging pictures to hanging himself’. Evidently the King was unhappy with images of himself on his early coinage-with his bust engraved by the mint’s employee Edward Greene. Charles called it ‘distorted’. The King next directed his mint master to engage Nicholas Briot, borrowed from the Paris Mint, whose engraved portraits seem to have greatly pleased His Majesty. Thus, although undated, we may conclude from this evidence that the few patterns of van der Doort (the preferred, contemporary spelling) were created during the late 1620s. They consist of six or seven coins, one of which is possibly a medal; four are patterns for the unite of 10-shillings value. The earliest piece is thought to be this style, one of two without a crown on the king’s head. The engraving is greatly different, more detailed and lifelike, than that on Charles’ standard issues. The reason for these very lovely patterns not being accepted for the standard coinage was, as suggested above, entirely pragmatic. Challis explains succinctly (pages 297-300) that the engraving was too elegant, in too high relief, to be minted efficiently-that ‘output would be slowed down’ if van der Doort’s engraved dies were used. The beauty of the few patterns that exist is beyond denial, as is their testament that Charles I, a lover of fine art, personally influenced the money he wished for his subjects to see as representative of their sovereign.