Henry VII (1485-1509), sovereign, mm. small lis/cross crosslet (1499-1505), Tower mint, type 5, king seated facing on narrow throne with few ornaments, holding orb and sceptre, portcullis at feet, annulets in legend, rev. large crowned Tudor rose with royal shield at centre, saltire stops, wt. 15.34gms. (S.2176; N.1692/2; Schneider 551). About extremely fine, a charming example of this early sovereign rarity despite having a flaw in the flan, the king’s image clear in all aspects including his face, in fact the entire coin evenly and sharply struck including all legends, the flan of good quality, also unusually broad and untrimmed, and the original gold colour quite pleasing, very rare.
A similar example without the flaw sold in a London auction in 2010 for £198,400 inc. premium.
ex Colonel Taylor, 1936, purchased by Spink
ex Ryan, lot 107, 1950
bt. Spink, 1983
bt. Thomas Law, Stacks, August 13 2013, lot 20050
The first ‘sovereign’ and therefore one of the classics of British numismatics. We sometimes see the comment ‘miracle of survival’ used for modern milled coins, but this coin is five centuries old, and the expression takes on much more significance. Sutherland estimated that perhaps as many as 50,000 were struck in the 1480s and as late as 1508, yet most perished in melting pots over the centuries as the old hammered coinages were recalled to be made into newer coins. To put this important coin in yet keener perspective, the reign of the first Tudor was fraught with danger, political and personal. When Richard III died in battle, the conclusion of the long war between the houses of York and Lancaster brought an immediate end to the Plantagenet Age. A clever Welshman emerged named Harri Tudur. As he gained power, he went from military triumph to personal glory, marrying Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV and niece of the slain Richard, by this act establishing the Tudor dynasty. He ruled for 24 years, during which time he was subjected to numerous treacheries. One involved a pretender to his throne named Perkin Warbeck, who emerged out of nowhere in 1490 claiming to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV, the younger of the two princes. In truth, the two boys were imprisoned in 1483 by Richard III and never heard from again, and in this mystery lay Warbeck’s claim. With the Scots behind him, he invaded England, for the final time, in 1496, landing in Cornwall, but he was no match for the Tudor army and was defeated. Henry VII executed him in 1499, at just the time this coin of great value was being minted.