Bentley Sets The New Gold Standard For Sovereigns
There was an air of sadness in the room as the final part of the Bentley Collection went under the hammer. The end of an eighteen month journey of auctions, and thirty four years of collecting, did
garter with buckle, W W P incuse on sides of buckle, garter motto HONI . SOIT . QUI . MAL . Y . PENSE . no upper left serif to I of HONI, raised rim both sides, edge, milled, weight 7.97g (Marsh 3 R6 this coin illustrated plate 3; M.C.E. 466; S.3785). Light red tone, lightly hairlined with a few tiny spots and flecks, about extremely fine and the finest known specimen extant, the key date to the entire series of British Sovereigns minted by the Royal Mint, UK, of highest rarity.
ex Sotheby, 15th October 1998, lot 286, where it sold for £55,000 including premium.
Calendar year mintage 3,574.
The classic rarity of the London series, the Bentley Collection specimen is the finest known in private ownership by a full British grading step. All other known specimens are around poor to fair or fine condition with only one other approaching very fine. There are fewer than ten specimens in private hands, and the purported proof version (if correctly identified as such) is unknown to modern numismatists (Murdoch 194=WR199) unseen for over 100 years since the Murdoch sale.
Lot 957 George III Gold Proof Sovereign, 1818, engraved by Benedetto Pistrucci, first laureate head right, coarse hair, laurel wreath of 10 leaves, date below, ascending colon after BRITANNIAR, with no lower right serif to first I, no upper serifs to last four letters, lettering clear of raised rim, legend GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: I of King’s name missing lower right serif, rev struck with inverted die axis, St George on horseback slaying dragon right with broken lance, helmet with flowing streamer, ground-line with BP incuse to left, all within horizontally ruled garter with buckle, W W P incuse on sides of buckle, garter motto HONI. SOIT. QUI. MAL. Y. PENSE. I of HONI missing its top left serif, raised rim both sides, edge, milled, weight 7.98g (WR 198 R6; Murdoch 193; Nobleman 49/50; Douglas-Morris 142; S.3785A). Tiny pinhead sized black spot on nape of neck and on temple, some hairlines, otherwise brilliant as struck and extremely rare.
ex Property of gentleman, Spink Auction 117, 19th November 1997, lot 1961
One of the key features of the design of this proof as adopted and engraved for currency by Pistrucci are the wreath of 10 leaves and the date below the bust, coupled of course with St George slaying the dragon. Some of the letters in the legend lack serifs no doubt due to blockages or faulty letter punches with corner serifs broken off being employed. A discussion about these was highlighted in “a note on varieties” in the introduction of part one of the Bentley Collection.
Lot 966 Victoria Gold Pattern Sovereign, 1837, engraved by William Wyon, small young head left, hair bound with two plain fillets, thinly defined ponytail hair with some dis-jointing, wispy lock of hair from head to ponytail halfway down, W.W. incuse on truncation, date below