Great Britain 1682 Gold 5 Guineas

The upcoming Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio auction this November at the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Baltimore Expo is shaping up to be a remarkable event. This week’s showcase coin is an extraordinary gold piece from the advent of milled coinage from Great Britain. This coin was struck towards the end of Charles II’s reign, a triumphant if turbulent return to the monarchy. His father, King Charles I, was deposed and beheaded during the English Civil War, forcing the young would-be successor to the British throne into exile. After the British Interregnum ended and the Commonwealth of England was dissolved (after the death of the virtual dictator Oliver Cromwell), Charles II was invited to return to England and assume the monarchy. All legal documents were dated as if he had succeeded his father immediately after his death in 1649, overlooking more than a decade of a British Republic. After Charles’ restoration to the monarchy, hand-minting of coinage was eventually superseded by Blondeau’s minting machines. These “milled” coins marked a huge milestone in English numismatics, and this 5 Guineas piece is a beautiful example of the beginnings of this era.

The obverse features the bust of King Charles II right, wearing a laurel wreath crown. This bust is known as the second bust type, and is identified by the truncation or lower portion of the bust, which is rounded at the bottom. The Latin legend begins at 8 o’clock and reads clockwise: “CAROLVS. II. – DEI. GRATIA.” This inscription states the King’s name, followed by: “By the Grace of God” implying the King’s divine right to rule. This coinage type represented their value in terms of Shillings; 5 Guineas were equal to 100 Shillings, and so on. The coins were eventually called “Guineas” as the gold used to mint these coins was imported from Guinea in West Africa by the Africa Company.

The reverse of this coin showcases the arms of the regions under the dominion (and in the case of France, claims) of the British crown. Four crowned cruciform shields bearing the arms of England (three lions passant guardant to left), Scotland (Lion Rampant to left within double border), France (three Fleurs-de-lis), and Ireland (a Harp). These designs are separated by scepters which radiate from a center design at an angle. The outer legend displays: “MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB. REX.” followed by the date of 1682. The Latin legend translates as: “Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King” which indicates the King’s domain and his claim to the throne of France. Some contact marks on cheek and scattered throughout, otherwise a wholesome coin. This piece is the second highest graded by PCGS at AU-50, and shows light to moderate wear for the grade.

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming November Baltimore Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this October at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580. While our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio November Baltimore sale is closed for further consignments, we are currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins for our January New York International, and April 2014 Hong Kong sales. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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