Baldwin's of St. James's   |   Auction 27   |   13 January 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 89

Estimate: 6'400 USD   |   Starting price: 5'120 USD Price realized: 6'000 USD
British Coins, Yorkshire, Sheffield, Younge, Wilson & Younge, proof gold 10/6 (half guinea) token, 1812, YOUNGE. WILSONS. & YOUNGE. SHEFFIELD., phoenix rising from the flames, toothed border both sides, rev. YORKSHIRE TOKEN 1812, STANDARD GOLD in two circles around S D/10.6 in centre (Dalton 37 [RR]; Davis 35 [RRR]), certified and graded by NGC as Mint State 61, rare, unusually bold strike with the phoenix gleaming and showing every detail, broad high rims, abrasions in the soft gold consistent with the assigned grade, in all one of the finest extant examples of this classic issue of the Napoleonic Wars era
So few gold tokens of this era were made that Dalton included them amongst the many silver issues in what has become a standard reference, The Silver Token Coinage 1811-12, published in 1922. The beginning of the 19th century was a time of great silver shortage as well as fluctuating gold prices, caused by the war in Europe. The Royal Mint was unable to produce regal silver coins towards the end of George III’s reign but the needs of commerce were such that privately designed and minted tokens filled some of the public need, all of them listed by region in Dalton’s book. In truth, most silver coins went into hiding because the public feared invasion by the French army. No gold coins were minted by the Royal Mint in 1812, one of the few years in modern history when there was no such coinage. In years just past, the mint had attempted to supply gold coins for homeland use but these had been exported nearly as fast as they were issued, and a dearth of gold spread across Britain. A few merchants attempted to lessen the scourge by backing small amounts of gold pieces issued in their own names. Evidently the largest issue came from the Sheffield firm whose name appears on this coin. It should be remembered that this city was and remains famed for its fine metal work, so a sizable number of gold half guineas might have been expected. Just south, in Liverpool, Thos. Wilson & Co. caused a nearly identical coin to be made, calling it a Lancashire Token (Dalton 1), also dated 1812. Down in Berkshire, a much larger token in gold appeared under the name of I. B. Monck of Reading (Dalton 1), who claimed it was of standard gold and worth 40 shillings, which he would pay in banknotes; it featured an image of Alfred the Great and was also dated 1812. A similar piece was made in silver, clearly then a token intrinsically of much less value. No other gold tokens were made during this trying historical period. How many of each of these three token issues of nearly pure gold were struck appears not to have been recorded and is unknown today. All are very rare, indicative of the belief that most were melted when the New Coinage gold began to be released in the summer of 1817 by the Royal Mint. Almost all of the known Yorkshire half guineas circulated, and show wear. A piece such as the presently offered one is especially rare, so finely preserved. The 40 shillings piece is an anomaly as its value does not coincide with typically used gold coins. The two half guinea pieces, however, were clearly meant for use and are in fact transition issues between the last half guineas and the first half sovereigns. Their historical significance is considerable. They are of far greater rarity than are contemporary regal gold coins.

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