The Royal Mint has announced (4th February) they will offer by auction an incredibly rare, 500-year-old gold sovereign minted during the reign of King Henry VII. The Royal Mint’s Department of Collector Services has acquired the Type 2 Henry VII sovereign, which is one of a select few in the world that are not held by a museum.
The gold sovereign of 20 shillings was initially introduced during the reign of the first Tudor king, Henry VII (1485-1509), in 1489, over 500 years ago. The coin’s obverse side depicts the front-facing crowned Tudor king seated on a wooden throne in robes, holding an orb and sceptre. The reverse shows the quartered shield of England with a Tudor rose superimposed over the crest. Henry VII was the first of five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty, which was in power from his accession in 1485 until the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. His son and successor was the infamous Henry VIII (reigned 1509–1547), and he was grandfather to Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I, who lent her name to the golden era of the Elizabethan age. Every successive English, Scottish, and British monarch is descended from King Henry VII.
Determined to cement his position and authority as king, this coin, which was the largest hammered gold coin of the Tudor period, measured approximately 40 millimetres in diameter, was a millimetre thick, and weighed roughly 15.3 grammes of .995 fine gold (or 23.3-carat fineness). Production of these impressive coins was ordered by King Henry VII, which commenced from the 28th October 1489, over 500 years ago.
Assessed and graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the gold sovereign has been graded as “AU-50” guaranteeing the state of preservation to be “Almost Uncirculated 50.” The chain of ownership of this coin can be traced back to the Victorian era through six named collectors, including world-renowned banker J. P. Morgan, who owned the coin until his death in 1913 and its subsequent sale in 1915.
Renowned for the minting of new coins, the Royal Mint successfully expanded into the sale of rare, historic coins two years ago. The company’s collector services department headed by Rebecca Morgan, Divisional Director of Collector Services, now helps customers track down rare examples to add to their collection and authenticate coins on the secondary market using their unique experience in British coinage. Ms. Morgan also highlighted that the Royal Mint was originally based at the Tower of London, where this coin would have been hand struck on “Mint Street” — which still stands today.
The Royal Mint’s collector services department set a record for the sale of a British historic coin at £1 million last year, and this coin is expected to eclipse that record as bids will open at £950,000 for the sought-after coin. The online auction will take place on the 4th March 2021, and those wishing to bid will need to tender a £20,000 surety deposit — which is fully refundable to bidders who are unsuccessful in acquiring the coin at auction. This is the first in a series of online auctions that the Royal Mint will hold, and there is no buyer’s premium. Collectors or investors wishing to take part in the auction as a bidder or observer can do so by following the steps to register their interest by midnight on Monday, 1 March 2021. To register, please visit here.