Bentley Has The Midas Touch The Great British sping may have been a wash out so far but the sale of The Bentley Collection raised more than a few smiles (as well as hands) as part one of the collection got off to a flying start.
underlying brilliance, some light scuffing, extremely fine, reverse better and extremely rare, one of the finest extant of this great rarity.
ex Randy Weir Numismatics, Unionville, Ontario, Canada, purchased 28 June 1993
This interesting variety of reverse was only discovered a few decades ago and is perhaps an unused proposal die that was too valuable to not use. The main difference are really the lesser amount of leaves in the wreath and their arrangement, and the differently rendered crown on the narrower shield. This unusual reverse found its way onto the current Sovereign of 1838, it may well be the work of an apprentice engraver working under Merlen. The variety is of the highest rarity with most of the few examples only surviving in the lower grades. This piece is the best quality example we are aware of in private hands.
45 Victoria, Sovereign, 1843, “narrow shield” variety, first young head left, with double fillet, ponytail terminates in single curved strand of hair, date below, rev possibly engraved by Jean Baptiste Merlen, “narrow” crowned quartered shield of arms within laurel wreath of different leaf arrangement, crown with more prominent and acutely angled arches, tied with bow below shield with smaller ribbon ends, twelve pearls on each arch of crown, four pearls vertically arranged on central upright, nine pellets visible on ermine below jewel band, wreath of 21 leaves each side, top of wreath each side terminates in three leaves, seven harp strings in Irish arms, left string emanates from back of female figure above lower scroll, narrower spaced taller emblems below, double shamrock head to right of large central rose, thistle to left, no rosettes, small hyphen either side, 7.97g (Marsh 26A R4; MCE 504; S 3852B). Light surface marks, flaw to left of reverse through second N of legend, extremely fine and extremely rare.
ex Randy Weir, Unionville, Ontario, Canada, purchased 29 April 1992
The “narrow shield” variety of 1843 is different to the 1838 version and is perhaps the result of use of another unspent proposed reverse die from storage. The 1843 shield differs in a few design elements from the 1838 version most noticeable from the fact it has 7 strings as opposed to 6 on the 1838 version. The leaf arrangements are similar and both consist of 21 leaves in each side of the wreath. The emblems below are quite different however and are much thicker and narrower on the 1843 reverse and have a mere hyphen each side rather than a rosette. The shamrock has two of its distinctive leaves rather than one, the central rose much larger and the thistle appears to have distant thistles beyond. Some of the leaves of the left hand wreath are not fully struck up or more faintly engraved.
The reason for striking the 1843 “narrow shield” is perhaps lost to history, but the legacy are these extremely rare narrow shield pieces most of which survive being in lower grade. The Bentley Collection example is