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
George III reverse, engraved after Benedetto Pistrucci, St George slaying dragon right with broken lance, groundline 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 ., some serifs weak in motto, edge milled with angled rims, 7.95g, 22mm (WR 313 R7, this coin; Douglas-Morris 208). Has been lightly polished in fields, some heavy hairlines, tiny rim bruise at 7 o’clock on the obverse and a little dirt deposit further around, otherwise good extremely fine, the only Sovereign known muled between different reigns, unique.
ex Captain Vivian Hewitt collection, sold privately to Spink and Son Ltd, c.1969
ex Captain K J Douglas Morris collection, Sothebys, 26 November 1974, lot 208
ex Bank Leu, Zürich, 26 October 2004, lot 444, bought via Spink and Son Ltd
The date of this pattern piece coincides with the time of the introduction of the third type of young head obverse as defined in the Bentley Collection, though it happens to have the earlier second type bust as seen on the 1870 currency sovereign with die number 1 (see lot 1128).
Lot 1212 Victoria, Pattern Sovereign, 1880, engraved after William Wyon, third young head left, with double fillet, W.W. in relief on truncation, date below, toothed border and raised rim both sides, VICTORIA DEI GRATIA, one light raised die flaw down cheek from hair, rev struck with en medaillé die axis, engraved after Jean Baptiste Merlen, crowned shield of arms within laurel wreath tied with bow below shield, seven harp strings in Irish arms, left string emanates from scroll, emblems below, small rosette either side, BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF:, a couple of letters lightly doubled, edge plain, 7.95g, 21.8mm (WR 323 R5; Murdoch 513; Nobleman 273; Douglas-Morris 213). Tiny red spot each side, cloudy tone, otherwise brilliant as struck and probably struck for display at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1881 (Australia), extremely rare.
ex Virgil M Brand collection, d.1926, dispersed post mortem from c.1932
ex Spink Numismatic Circular, December 1992, item 7601
ex An Important Collection of Gold Sovereigns 1816-2000, offered as one lot, Sothebys, November 2000, lot 525 (part)
Sovereigns of proof quality from highly polished dies would be struck as a matter of record for the Mint and probably for presentation to highly important persons. It seems that in 1880 the Deputy Master of the Melbourne Mint, V Delves Broughton, approached London requesting examples of coins and medals produced for display at the International Exhibition in Melbourne. Mr C W Fremantle, the Comptroller at the Royal Mint, agreed to prepare two proof examples of each of the current coins of 1880 and earlier dates which were struck in such quantity that when prepared for shipment weighed 2cwt. and 19lb. The Museum of Victoria in Australia still retains one of the 1880 “Imperial Proof Sets” the other was seemingly traded after the