An old saw in numismatics asks whose hands a coin might have passed through. While in many cases it’s an imaginative exercise, for the occasional coin it is possible to say with some certainty that a specific historical figure handled it. This week, we’re examining one such coin, which will be offered in Part II of Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ sale of the Sydney F. Martin Collection. This piece, a 1724 Rosa Americana pattern twopence, is thought to have been owned by William Wood, the well-connected mine owner responsible for Hibernia coinage, the Rosa Americana series, and coinage for the Isle of Man.
Weighing in at 245.8 grains, lot 1279 is attributed as Martin 5.1-H.1 / W-1360, and is thought to be silvered “Bath metal” – a composition akin to brass, though German Silver is a distinct possibility as well, given its weight. It carries a Rarity-8+ rating and is thought to be unique. The engraved lettering leads experts to connect the coin to William Wood, a wealthy mine owner who obtained patents to produce a wide range of coinage, one of which, the Rosa Americana series, was intended for use in Britain’s North American colonies. It’s conceivable that he would have taken one or more patterns as personal pieces.
The coin’s wear is consistent with a “pocket piece” and the “WW” engraved at the truncation of the King’s bust on the obverse was certainly an intentional post-production addition. The Roman Numeral “VIII” with “JVNE” suggests a date.
Certified Very Fine Details – Graffiti by PCGS, the coin is attractive for its grade and appears in Syd Martin’s reference on Rosa Americana coinage. It spent time in several important collections before Martin’s, including the Norweb, Brand, and Ford cabinets.
Sydney Martin’s collection is a veritable treasure trove of remarkable coins, medals, tokens, and other exonumia. View all the pieces offered in the October 27 & 28 offering of Part II of the collection here.