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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Edward III (1341-1343) Double Leopard - Archive 30/6/2006

I was going through some old archive news today, and came across a news item from nearly 6 years ago (doesn't time fly). Still can't believe what a fantastic coin this is.

London - England’s first large gold coin, the Edward III (1341-1343) Double Leopard, came up for sale today at Spink in London.  The coin sold for a staggering £460,000 (US$841,800), against a pre-sale estimate of £100,000-150,000, making it the most expensive English Coin ever sold.

 Bidders crowded the room to see history made in the auction world as the estimate was doubled then tripled and continued to climb in price.  Towards the end two bidders were left in the fight for the coin, one in the room and one on the phone.  At £390,000 a new bidder appeared and the coin received open applause from the room when he purchased the Double Leopard for a hammer price of £400,000.
“We knew that there would be huge interest”, said Jeremy Cheek of Spink Auctions, “but this surpassed all our expectations”.

History of the Coin:

This coin is the third known specimen of its kind. The two other examples, found in the bed of the river Tyne in 1857, are now both in the British Museum. No other specimens were known until this coin was discovered and dug up earlier this year by a metal detectorist in the south of England. This is therefore the only example in private hands. It is a slightly different variety to either of those in the British Museum.
The finder was working with the permission of the landowner who has a joint interest in the coin - the proceeds of the sale will be divided between them. In order to protect the site the find spot is not being disclosed.

The Gold Double Florin, authorised on 14 December 1343, was to circulate at a value of six-shillings.  The first coins were struck in early 1344, but the coinage was not a success.  The Double Florin was replaced by the Gold Noble, authorised on 9 July 1344, and therefore this magnificent coin was only legal tender for a brief seven months.

The obverse shows a full length portrait of Edward III enthroned beneath a Gothic portico.  The King is crowned and holds an orb and sceptre. Two crowned Leopards sit at either side, and the surrounding fields are decorated with fleur de lis. The reverse is filled by a floriate cross with crowns at the four points, within a quadrilobe with four Leopards in the angles.

The Double Florin was the first large gold coin of England.  It was intended primarily for foreign trade. The denomination was based on the gold Florin of Florence, and the design was derived from a French gold coin ("masse d'or") of Philip IV of France (1285-1314).

Edward’s issue of large gold coins was emblematic of the might of England during his reign (1327-77). Edward ruled not only England but also much of France which he claimed through his mother Isabella, daughter of Philip IV. It was Edward’s brilliant son, the Black Prince, who secured English interests on the continent with his stunning victories at Poitiers and Crecy.

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