William III, Two Guineas, 1701
Item Reference: NM66133
William III (1694-1702), Two Guineas, 1701, fine work laureate head right. Rev. crowned cruciform emblematic shields, sceptres in angles, lion of Nassau at centre in an escutcheon, date either side of top crown, 16.72g (MCE 173; S 3457).
Extremely fine with much mint brilliance, a pleasing example with some original red toning (much scarcer than the ‘fine work’ five guineas).Two-guinea pieces seem very undervalued in comparison to their five-guinea counterparts in the current marketplace, therefore making them seem a very attractive acquisition.
The William III Two Guineas are much rarer in high grade than their siblings, the Five Guineas pieces. The Two guineas were only made in one year, 1701, whereas the Five Guineas were produced in 1699, 1700 and 1701.
William III was descended from the ancient house of Nassau in Germany, and was the great-grandson of William the Silent, prince of Orange, who became Stadtholder, or chief executive, of the Netherlands in 1572. His mother was Maria Henrietta, Charles I’s daughter, making him King James II’s nephew. Later he married James’ daughter Mary.
When James II came to the throne and began to pursue his active pro-Catholic measures, William was afraid that James might secure a Catholic majority in Parliament and ally England with the French. William responded to an invitation from seven anxious English peers, known as the ‘Immmortal Seven,’ invaded England in November 1688, and soon ousted James in a bloodless coup. The English Parliament determined that by fleeing the country, James had effectively abdicated, while the Scots argued that he had forfeited the Crown by his pro-Catholic activities. In the end the Crown was offered in February 1689 to William and his wife Mary as joint monarchs.
Mary II was popular, but William III was considered somewhat aloof. Mary died of smallpox in December 1694 and William reigned alone from 1694 until his death in 1702 when he was thrown from his horse in what proved to be a fatal accident. William was never a man concerned with the pomp or the trappings of royalty, although his coinage designs are often ornate and are avidly collected. William was a deeply serious man, with little or no sense of humour, but he presided over a stable kingdom and he allowed the strength of parliament to grow.