Una and the Lion are characters in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and the reverse of the coin designed by William Wyon depicts Queen Victoria as Una guiding the British lion. Its rarity and condition – apart from some minor surface marks, it is otherwise virtually as struck – meant that it commanded the top price in the Dix Noonan Webb sale, which totalled £1,720,974 including buyers’ commission (total hammer price £1,434,145). “This was an outstanding result with saleroom battles for great rarities,” said Christopher Webb, head of the coins department at DNW. Bidding came from all over the world, including Australia, Japan and the United States.
A William III 1701 Five Guineas second bust with the DECIMO TERTIO edge also outstripped its £20,000 to £30,000 estimate to sell to a bidder in the room for £114,000 with commission (£95,000 hammer price). The coin was slabbed in a PCGS holder and graded MS63. A George V Proof Crown in gold dating from 1935 fetched £84,000 with commission (£70,000 hammer price) from an internet bidder against strong competition in the room. Only 30 of these are known to have been struck, five being consigned to museums and the remaining 25 balloted for in accordance with the practice of the time. This example, estimated at £30,000 to £40,000, has minimal surface marks and is otherwise virtually as struck.
An extremely rare gold Angel dating from the tragically brief reign of Edward V – one of the two Princes believed to have been murdered in the Tower of London in 1483 – attracted much publicity before the auction and lively bidding at the sale. Found by Bournemouth metal detectorist Brian Biddle in a field in Tolpuddle, Dorset last August, the Angel was estimated at £12,000 to £15,000. Bidding began at £16,000 and the hammer eventually fell at £42,000. By the time buyers’ commission was added the purchaser – a UK private collector bidding in the room – paid £50,400. Another find by a metal detectorist – a rare Viking Penny minted in the reign of Sihtric Caoch around 921-927 – sold for a low estimate £10,000 (£12,000 with commission) to a room bidder. It was found by Richard Scothern in a Nottinghamshire field on Boxing Day last year.
British coins from the collection of Major William Tapp (1884 – 1959), who had won the Military Cross for gallantry during the First World War, also proved popular. All 62 lots sold, many for far more than their pre-sale estimates. A rare Charles II 1663 Guinea estimated at £20,000 to £26,000 was hammered down to a room bidder at £46,000 (£55,200 with commission) while a Queen Anne 1703 Half Guinea went to another room bidder for £40,000 hammer price (£48,000 with commission). It had been estimated at £24,000 to £30,000. Overall the coins from the Tapp Collection sold for £399,786 with commission (£333,155 total hammer price). Another collection, a comprehensive run of Maundy Sets from Charles II to Elizabeth II totalled £62,988 with commission (£52,490 total hammer price).
Dix Noonan Webb Ltd is one of the world’s leading specialist auctioneers and valuers of coins, tokens, medals, militaria, paper money and jewellery. Established in 1990, the company boasts over 250 years' combined experience in this field and stages regular auctions throughout the year.
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Telephone: 07770 694254
Dix Noonan Webb
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London W1J 8BQ
Telephone: 020 7016 1700.