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    The Finest Known Pontefract Siege Shilling

    Charles I Pontefract Besieged octagonal Shilling 1648 (1649) MS62 NGC, 5.15g, Brooker-1234 (same dies), S-3150, North-2648. Struck in 1649 after the execution of Charles I and bearing the name of his son, Charles II, this exceptionally rare and stunning survivor simply should not exist in this grade. Bearing razor-sharp details commensurate with a definitive strike and pale argent luster cloaking the crisp legends and devices, to properly appreciate the remarkable preservation and rarity of this piece we must take a trip back to the dying throes of the English Civil War.

    The period June 1648 until March 1649 saw the third siege of Pontefract Castle, and the last stand of Charles I's Royalist supporters. The castle, represented here on this Shilling and referred to by the leader of the Parliamentarians Oliver Cromwell as "one of the strongest inland garrisons in the kingdom", had withstood at least two previous sieges, the first just before Christmas of 1644. However, by 1648 the castle had been badly scarred and was suffering. Prolonged siege conditions during the English Civil War resulted in the minting of coin essential for normal life and trade to continue within the castle walls, and these issues were generally hand-made from silver plate either taken by or given to the king's forces, the present piece being no exception. C.E. Challis illuminates the rarity of these late Civil War issues thus: "all the Royalist provincial coinages of the civil war have one thing in common, fewness of numbers. For all his access to the silver from Wales and the plate of colleges, aristocrats and the like, Charles I never achieved a bullion supply in any way commensurate with that of Parliament. In all probability the output of all his mints during the entire conflict was no more in total than two or three average month's output at the Tower between 1642 and 1645."

    On January 30 1649, Charles I was captured, tried and executed for treason, but the Royalist army of Pontefract refused to surrender, declaring the city to be the property of the king's son Charles II. It was after this that the present Shilling was produced, bearing the legend 'CAROLVS SECVNDUS' and the motto 'DVM SPIRO SPERO' which translates to "Whilst I live, I hope", symbolic of the Royalists' faith in their new King, who was just 19 years old. Despite their fervor, the castle was surrendered to Cromwell shortly afterwards and destroyed.   

    The crude production, limited specie, and heavy-circulation impacting this coinage of necessity renders the finding of a well-struck and scarcely-handled example near impossible; and yet, the present specimen has survived in pristine condition, every detail of the long-since gone Pontefract Castle boldly represented. An absolute privilege to view in-hand and by far the finest of the type seen by the cataloger, this numismatic and historical treasure is the highest certified by either NGC or PCGS, and the only example in Mint State; indeed, the next highest is an AU50, a full 12 points below this sublime offering. For the absolute highest-tier collector of the British hammered series, this wonderful Shilling is simply impossible to upgrade upon and deserves your utmost attention.
    Ex. Willis, Glendining, 5 June 1991, lot 366; RC Lockett, Glendining, 16 October 1956, lot 2572; EW Rashleigh, Sotheby, 21 June-1 July 1909, lot 1010.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 661

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