From a small group of coins from the Thos. H. Law Collection being sold for the benefit of his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.
Lot 1003 of our January 2014 NYINC auction sale features a very rare 1773 pattern 5 Guineas attributed as Seaby-3723, Friedberg-350, Krause-Mishler Pattern52, Wilson & Rasmussen-77 (Rarity-4), and graded Proof-64 by NGC. This example was purchased by Mr. Law from our (Stack’s) 50th Anniversary Sale, October 24, 1985, where it was lot 1150, part of the Zurich Collection. Prior to its inclusion in the Zurich Collection, it was reportedly in the holdings of illustrious numismatists Wayte Raymond, Charles Wormser and J.P. Morgan. Mr. Law paid $52,800 for this major British rarity at a time when the market was not especially robust. It is impressive to note that an example of this important issue was missing in most extensive and advanced British cabinets. This historically important and extremely rare coin will occupy a very special place in the next collection it graces.
As most specialists in British gold coins will note, no 5 Guinea pieces were struck during the reign of George III; the only way to procure an example of this denomination for this ruler is to own one of the very rare pattern issues, as offered here. Indeed, pattern issues of this design type were issued in 1770, 1773, and 1777, and none come up for sale with any frequency. It is interesting that the final issue of the 5 Guinea denomination was not struck for circulation at all. A glorious, yet simple design, expertly engraved by Royal Mint engraver John Tanner, features a finely detailed laureate bust of George III facing right, with his hair in flowing locks. Four-fold crowned arms make up the central reverse.
This example is likely the finest known and the most recent offering we can locate is an example offered by Spink in 2005, which was listed as EF. This stunning Proof-64 piece has only the most minute imperfections and will surely be the prized piece in the next cabinet that it graces. If the action seen on the core Thos. H. Law Collection during our August 2013 ANA sale was any indication, the current market for major British rarities is quite vibrant, and surely when this coin comes to the auction block on the evening of Saturday, January 11, bids will be coming from all over the auction gallery (as well as from the phone, the internet, and mail bidders). Since opportunities to acquire pieces such as this 1773 pattern 5 Guineas are about as rare as the coins themselves, if you are interested in owning this coin, be prepared to bid liberally.
If you have any questions about this, or any other lot in our Official NYINC auction sale, be sure to contact one of our numismatic experts. If you are not currently on our mailing list and would like to receive a copy of this important catalog, contact one of our auction services associates. High-resolution images of this, and all single coin lots are available at the newly redesigned www.stacksbowers.com. Refer to our website or catalog for full lot viewing times in our Irvine and New York offices, as well as at the NYINC at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Finally, if you have rare international coins that you would like to consign, we are currently seeking consignments for our August 2014 Official Auction of the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money. To consign, contact your favorite consignment director before May 15.