Top eight coins selected by the Stanley Gibbons specialists
Stanley Gibbons released the latest version of its GB200 Rare Coin Index (the “Index”) earlier this year, depicting an impressive 6.2% increase on 2014. In a period where the FTSE 100 lost ground, the Index shows growth and stability for rare coins as an alternative investment asset class – achieving a compound annual growth rate of 11.4% over the last ten years.
So there’s never been a better time to invest in coins. If you don’t have any in your current portfolio then have a look at a range op items that our experts have cherry picked from our vaults.
England – Charles I, Silver Pound (Twenty Shillings) 1643
This Silver Pound is the largest currency coin struck in Britain – minted in Oxford during the English Civil War, when Charles I was running out of gold for new coins. It features the King on horseback, over cannon, arms and militaria with Oxford plume behind. On the reverse, is his famous Declaration: Protestant Religion, Laws of England, Liberty of Parliament. The legend around the edge translates as: Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.
Condition: These huge coins often split their flan when struck, and wore down quickly in circulation. This example has a scarce variety: the “3” of 1643 is struck over a “2”. With a few nicks and bruises – but it is one of the better examples of this variety of the Silver Pound.
Japan – Hirohito, Gold 20-Yen, ‘Showa 7’ 1932
Hirohito only issued Gold 20 Yen coins in 1930 and 1931 – and in 1932, it was discontinued with only a very small number issued. The obverse features a sunburst on a sacred mirror; and the reverse, a chrysanthemum and wreath.
This coin originates from the Japanese Finance Minister hoard, but sales have now been halted and collectors are left to compete for the coins which have found their way into the international market. This discontinued date probably never left government vaults, and collectible specimens are today excessively rare.
Condition: Uncirculated, with some minor bag marks – in official ‘Ministry of Finance, Japan’ holder.
Great Britain – Bank of England, One Million Pounds banknote, 1948
One Million Pounds banknote, dated 30 August 1948 with serial no. D 000007, on Bank of England watermarked paper, with signature of E.E. Bridges, Secretary to the Treasury. Stamped CANCELLED, 6 OCT. 1948, BANK OF ENGLAND.
Funds received through the Marshall Aid plan after World War II were subject to strict accountability – and to help with the bookkeeping, a printing of high value notes was ordered. The total order sent to The Bank of England printing works was for £300 million in varying denominations, starting at £25,000. It is believed that the entire issue was subsequently destroyed with the exception of numbers 7 and 8 for One Million Pounds, which were presented to the British and American Treasury Secretaries respectively.
Condition: Small cancellation hole through signature, and light creases and handling marks – otherwise Good Very Fine or better. Extremely Rare, with only two known.
Ancient Greece – Arsinoe II, Gold Oktadrachm c 190 BC
Spectacular gold Oktadrachm with veiled bust of Queen Arsinoe II and, on reverse, a double cornucopia with bunches of grapes and Greek inscription ARSINOE PHILADELPHOY. Struck in Alexandria around 200-180 BC, some 80 years after Arsinoe’s death, during the reign of Ptolemy V.
Arsinoe II was both the wife and sister of Ptolemy II – and as a result, they were given the epithet Philadelphoi or “sibling-loving”. She exerted a powerful influence on her younger mate and shared all his titles. After her death c 270 BC, her devoted husband/brother initiated a cult in her honour and a series of high value gold and silver coins were issued in her memory. These coins were reissued during the reign of Ptolemy V some 80 years later – such later issues, as this example, are very rare.
Condition: faint mark on cheek and light cleaning marks – but Extremely Fine and lustrous.
England – Charles I, Gold Triple Unite 1642
The Triple Unite, valued at 60 shillings or three pounds, was the highest denomination and the largest gold coin produced (46mm, 27g) in England. Minted in Oxford during the Civil War, it features a half-length figure of Charles I wearing crown and full armour, holding a sword and olive branch. On the reverse, the Declaration: Protestant Religion, Laws of England, Liberty of Parliament. The legend around the edge translates as: Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.
This huge coin was issued for use mainly as gifts to those whom the King wished to ‘cement’ to his side in the Civil War. The armoured bust of Charles with broadsword raised, and yet clutching an olive branch over his heart, was attempting to appeal to either nature of the benefactor he was seeking to entice. On the reverse is his famous declaration of 1642, when he swore to uphold the Protestant Religion, the laws of England and the freedom of Parliament.
Condition: Good Very Fine, strongly struck. Very rare (about 200 known) and spectacular!
Ancient Rome – Antoninus Pius, Gold Aureus AD 143
Well struck coin, with the laureate head of Antoninus and, on the reverse, Victory advancing holding a trophy.
Antoninus, was one of the Five Good Emperors and gained the honorific name ‘Pius’, possibly because of his devotion to duty and upstanding character. He ruled justly and compassionately, and introduced reforms for the acceptable treatment of slaves. Antoninus engaged in no major military campaigns, and the empire enjoyed peace during his reign.
Condition: Good Extremely Fine, with residual lustre.
England – Elizabeth I, Silver Crown 1601
Elizabeth’s reign is famous above all for the flourishing of English drama, led by William Shakespeare and Charles Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Sir Francis Drake.
This magnificent coin, struck a couple of years before her death, featuring the “Virgin Queen” in elaborate dress and ruff, holding orb and sceptre. The reverse bears the royal arms over long cross, with Latin inscription I have made God my helper.
Condition: Good Very Fine, attractively toned, with a few small nicks and flecks – rare this nice.
England – Henry VI Gold Noble 1422
Very beautiful and quintessentially medieval hammered coin, struck by Henry VI before the Wars of the Roses. The crowned and armoured King, standing in a ship with sword and royal arms, represents England as a sea power. On the reverse is an ornate cross with crowns and leopards, and the Latin legend But Jesus, passing through the midst of them, went his way.
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent civil wars, known as the Wars of the Roses, which were to commence during his reign. His periods of insanity and his inherent benevolence eventually required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom, which contributed to his own downfall, the collapse of the House of Lancaster and the rise of the House of York.
Condition: Good Very Fine, strongly struck with good portrait and no weak areas.