George V penny sets new record at Heritage World Coins sale

Patti Tuppence

Patti Tuppence

2016-08-15 10:01:14

A George V Penny regarded as one of the world's rarest British coins has set a new world record price at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

The company's ANA World & Ancient Coins sale in California on August 11 featured a 1933 George V Penny, regarded by many numismatists as "the most desirable and sought-after British coin".

Just seven examples of the coin were ever produced by the Royal Mint, for purely commemorative purposes, and two are now owned by the Royal Mint Museum and the British Museum.

A further three coins were presented to the King himself, and embedded beneath foundation stones of three important building whose construction began in 1933. One of these, from beneath the foundations of the Church of St. Cross near Leeds, was stolen in 1970 and has never reappeared.

The final two coins are thought to have been acquired by well-connected collectors, and today just three examples – including the missing stolen coin – are thought to remain in private hands.

The sale was described as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity", and attracted a flurry of bids – not least from a U.K phone bidder, who saw off competition from two American collectors in the room with a final price of $193,875, almost doubling the previous auction record for the coin.

"A coin this wonderful deserves to be a world record holder," said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President at Heritage Auctions. "We are thrilled this piece of British monetary history has found its way back across the Atlantic into an important Collection in Britain. What a journey has it taken!"

The auction was topped by another rare British coin, produced three centuries previously – a 1692 William & Mary gold 'Elephant & Castle' 5 Guineas. Made with gold mined from the Gambia River by the famed Royal African Company, the carefully preserved coin was graded MS63 PCGS, and sold for $258,500.

Further big-selling British rarities included a 1553 Mary (Sole Rule, 1553-1554) gold Ryal which sold for $152,750, and a world-renowned 1839 Victoria gold Proof Una & the Lion 5 Pounds which fetched $82,250.

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