At the higher end of the value scale when it comes to British coin collecting are the most eloquent coins of the Scottish series.
One of them appeared at a recent sale
appeared held by St James's Auctions, a gold £20 piece with the
half-length portrait of the youthful James VI (who later became
James I of England).
It was issued in only two years - 1575 and
Careful study has demonstrated that some
27 examples exist of both years, although it is just possible that
a very few further examples may come to light.
Scotland has long been admired for its
high standards of education and this coin was an early example. The
Latin legend, in translation, "To spare the humbled and crush the
insolent", is a quote from Virgil's Aeneid (VI,
The 1575 example on offer here came to
light in 1972, taking £8000 when Sotheby's sold the Bridgewater
House collection, which had been unstudied since the 18th century
It appeared again at Spink in 1992 when it
achieved £25,000, only to appear in a trade fixed price list
(Dolphin Coins) in June 1993 asking £45,000. That list recorded
only ten examples of the 1575 piece.
It appeared again in 2007 in a private
treaty sale at Spink, where it made £75,000. Here at St James's on
February 4 the gavel fell to a bid of £130,000 (estimate
The sale of 599 lots achieved a hammer
total of £1,319,590, which is equivalent to two thirds of their
entire 2012 total.
The buyer's premium was 20%
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