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A scarce Victorian Gold Coin was a highlight in Lawrences’ Spring Collectors Sale on May 23rd.
“It is a very rare 1839 Victoria ‘Una and the Lion’ £5 gold piece,” says Lawrences’ specialist, Jeff Day. “Too valuable to be circulated, it was struck only in `proof` and was issued only in expensive commemorative sets. It was produced in nine different variations and our coin is one of only 400 ever minted. The coin, 37mm in diameter and weighing about 39gms, was designed by William Wyon to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, and it is recognised as one of the most beautiful British coins ever produced.”
The young Queen, in the guise of the classical figure Una, is shown leading the British lion. It was the first time that a fictional character had been used to depict a monarch on a coin and the energy of the lion contrasts cleverly with the peace and grace of the Queen. The coin came from clients in East Dorset and was bought by a London buyer.
The coin was expected to realise £12,000 – 15,000 in auction but was bought for £36,000 (£43,000 with buyer’s premium). Jeff Day comments, “Gold coins continue to do well at auction, with many collectors and investors keen to add special rarities such as this to their collections.”
Lawrences’ 1500-lot Collectors sale took place over two days on May 23rd -24th and, on the first day, militaria, coins and medals were on offer. Amongst a host of four-figure successes, highlights included a Mughal sword with a 28” blade, dating from about 1770 (£1610); a Continental percussion pistol (£2620, image 57); a good cased pair of Westley Richards pocket pistols (£6090); and Naval Pattern brown bess musket with a 36” barrel (£4420). Requiring special strength to lift (let alone to handle), a massive two-handed `town sword` with a 52” blade, a 21” hilt and a full 16” wide caught collectors’ eyes. This unwieldy ceremonial item bore a German Armourer’s mark and was bought for £1670.
Medals performed well with prices as high as £1850, with a Waterloo medal awarded to Henry Rambenthal of the King’s German Legion making £1550. Coins proved to be a particular strength, with a set of cased gold proofs exceeding their top estimate to make £3290 and three boxed Churchill memorial medallions taking £1440. A £2 gold piece from 1902 on a 9ct chain made £950. A very scarce 1839 £5 gold piece took the day’s top price. This fine quality coin with Una and the Lion one one side and the head of the young Queen Victoria on the other was bought by a London buyer against stiff competition after being contested to £43000.
On the second day, there were remarkable prices paid for items as diverse as a 3.5” gauge locomotive and tender (£1550, image 930); two further Finescale model locomotives (£5730); an Irish Victorian dolls house from County Antrim (£2860), a large Jumeau doll, with pierced ears (£2150); over 150 pharmacist’s jars, carefully scrubbed clean of any former toxic contents (£2980); an early gramophone and horn (£1790); and a violin by Augustin Claudot (£1430). A rare set of six posters entitled `Seeing it Through` depicting heroic civilians from the 2nd World War, designed by war artist E. H. Kennington, made £2270; and a collection of fine old lace was chased to £1910. From a selection of sporting items, a cast iron coat rack set with a fox mask made £1490; a leopard skin mounted by celebrated taxidermists Van Ingen & Van Ingen of Mysore made £1730; a fine cased stuffed pike caught at Chelmsford in 1905 surprised many to make £3460; and a Hardy `Perfect` fishing reel was landed for £1430. Total for the two days exceeded £300,000.