British and World Coins (18 June 2009)

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Date of Auction: 18th June 2009

Sold for £14,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

George III (1760-1820), The Ricardo Ingot, Trial ingot, 1819, in tin, utilising the dies for the coinage of that year; four impressions for Sovereign, Crown, Halfcrown, Shilling, rev. four reverse impressions for the same coins, all as adopted, 846g/12h (Clancy, BNJ 2001, pp.172-4, and pl.37). The Sovereign an extremely rare date, the Shilling die 1819/8, some surface marks, scuffs and scratches, a ‘bruise’ on the reverse edge due to die breakage rather than subsequent damage, otherwise about extremely fine, interesting and apparently UNIQUE £8,000-10,000


Illustrated on the front cover and sold with a letter of authentication from the Royal Mint. Recently discovered correspondence dated 1819 between George Rennie, Superintendent of Machinery at the Mint and Matthew Robinson Boulton has made it possible to ascertain that this ingot was not so much a trial for the coinage of the year but rather for 60 oz gold ingots which would have formed part of a plan, devised by the political economist David Ricardo (1772-1823), whereby bullion would have taken the place of a circulating coinage in gold. This represents an early step in Britain’s move towards an operational gold standard. Technical difficulties with the striking of such a round ingot (illustrated by the die-break next to the Sovereign impression on the reverse) led to the adopted ingots being struck in an altogether more conventional form. The present ingot and the dies from which it was struck, which reside in the Royal Mint collection, are all that is left of this interesting episode in Britain’s numismatic and economic history