North Yorkshire Moors Collection, Part IV: Coins and Medals

To be Sold on: 21st January 2021

Estimate: £10,000 - £15,000

VIII: Original struck gold Medals by Simon, Lord Protector, c. 1655-8, a struck gold medal by T. Simon, armoured and draped bust left, signed tho:simon:f below, olivervs dei gra reipvb angliæ sco et hib & protector, rev. pax qværitvr bello, lion séjant displaying arms, 39mm, 29.68g (Lessen, BNJ 1977, type 1 and pl. xii, 1, this piece; Nathanson p.25; MI I, 409/45; E 188a). Numerous surface and rim marks and scratches, otherwise about extremely fine with reflective fields, extremely rare and important £10,000-£15,000

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VIII: Original struck gold Medals by Simon, Lord Protector, c. 1655-8, a struck gold medal by T. Simon, armoured and draped bust left, signed tho:simon:f below, olivervs dei gra reipvb angliæ sco et hib & protector, rev. pax qværitvr bello, lion séjant displaying arms, 39mm, 29.68g (Lessen, BNJ 1977, type 1 and pl. xii, 1, this piece; Nathanson p.25; MI I, 409/45; E 188a). Numerous surface and rim marks and scratches, otherwise about extremely fine with reflective fields, extremely rare and important £10,000-£15,000
Provenance: R. Huth Collection, Part II, Sotheby Auction, 8 April 1927, lot 15; SCMB M311, March 1940 (64049); bt Spink 1966.

In Simon’s archive there are invoices for five medals and their recipients, namely two English officers and three ambassadors. The officers were Major Daniel Redman (August 1655) and Colonel John Sadler (September 1655); the ambassadors were the Swedish Agent, who would be either Christer Bonde or less likely Peter Coyet (between June and October 1656), James, Duke of Courland, Rudolf von Strauch (July or August 1657) and the Portuguese ambassador, Adelino José Rodrigues de Mello (January 1657/8). In the 17th century it was normal for a ruler to give out precious awards to diplomats in the form of such items as miniature pictures in jewelled mounts, or gold medals and chains, and Cromwell employed both methods. Hence the bust has drapery to give it an imperial look (like the later crown, where Simon, on paper, originally had Oliver in a plain coat, but the Council altered that to a Caesarean image on the coin).

There are two enigmas with this important historical, artistic and numismatic medal. The first is the unsuccessful attempt to correlate the surviving examples with the known recipients (BNJ 1977, p.121). Simon’s invoice and a separate petition for payment covers five medals and their weights with chains: Courland was added to the 1657 Simon account also in the same year, but the Portuguese was in a subsequent petition of his on 13 July 1658. So it is possible that there were other separate official requests for medals and payments. We can only rely on the extant paper records, and these five are all that are known. The surviving medals are:

1. Gold. The present specimen. The lettering is absolutely not bifurcated, meaning a collar was used, and there may possibly be evidence of a witness line, but this is not certain for the edge is scored all round. There is certainly no trace of a loop having been removed.
2. Gold. British Museum, illustrated by Henfrey (pl. i, 6). No discernible witness line and apparently flat letter bases.
3. Gold. Montagu Collection (lot 234), present location unknown. With loop and ring and bifurcated letters.
4. Gold. Murdoch Collection (lot 152), present location also unknown. With bifurcated letters but no loop.
5. Silver. British Museum, ex Hawkins. Bifurcated letters and, with its badly cracked reverse, would have been made by Simon for the record when it was too late to do anything further. Had it been necessary, he could have made a new reverse die. It was made without a collar, which is somewhat surprising, because a collar could have prevented a broken die from completely destroying itself.


It is possible that the Montagu and Murdoch specimens are one and the same, if mention of the loop and ring was omitted by the Murdoch cataloguer. The Montagu specimen sold to Spink and the Murdoch to Whelan for £9 more. The Murdoch catalogue annotated by Jacques Schulman implies that the medal was in fact ex Montagu, so there may only be three examples with just the Montagu/Murdoch medal being untraced.

The second enigma is the problem of how these medals were made, what the dies looked like and how the chains were handled, for all had chains, which was their main monetary value. Assuming that the two gold medals known today were made with collars, as must have been the case with no fish-tail letters, then the dies had to be circular with no integral loop, as was true for many of Simon’s oval medals on round dies. The Montagu or Murdoch examples with bifurcated letters would simply have been struck without using collars, and that is acceptable. But what about the Montagu with a loop? This loop does not appear integral to the dies, and could simply have been gold soldered on - we do not know. Regardless of all this, the question remains – how were the expensive chains attached? Always, other Simon medals had loops and rings and the chains threaded through the ring (for example the 1653-4 naval rewards). The missing Montagu specimen might tell us if this bifurcated striking without a collar does or does not have an integral loop in the die(s). A separate surround mount with ring could have been supplied with the medal to take the chains, for the chains most certainly would not have been given with the medal with no method of attachment. Thus the type of dies, the question of bifurcation or not, and the ring to hold the chains, all tie in to these unanswered questions.

This medal is sometimes incorrectly called an ‘Inauguration Medal’, which it was not. The inauguration of the Lord Protector was in December 1653, but no medal was made for the occasion or later; the term Lord Protector medal, too, is simply a modern composed designation