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    Description

    The Famed Petition Crown by Thomas Simon

    Charles II silver Pattern "Petition" Crown 1663 XF40 NGC, KM-PnB33, S-3354A, L&S-6, ESC-429 (R4; prev. ESC-72), Bergne, "Coin Pedigrees--No. 1" (The Numismatic Chronicle 16, November 1854), no. 8 (likely this coin). By Thomas Simon. Edge reads: THOMAS SIMON • MOST • HVMBLY • PRAYS • YOUR • MAJESTY TO • COMPARE • THIS • HIS • TRYALL • WITH • THE • DVTCH • AND • IF • MORE | TRVLY • DRAWN & • EMBOSS'D • MORE • GRACE: FVLLY • ORDER'D • AND • MORE • ACCVRATELY • ENGRAVEN • TO • RELIEVE • HIM •, in two lines. Arguably the most famous and coveted crown of the whole British series, Thomas Simon's "Petition" Crown of 1663 has acquired an aura down through the years that renders it one of the most iconic English coins of all time. A budding artist during the years of the English Civil War, the young Thomas Simon had been appointed joint chief engraver at the Tower in 1645, so impressing Parliament with his Great Seal of the Commonwealth that he was made chief engraver of the Royal Mint. Making full use of Pierre Blondeau's newly established (and quite secretive) technology for milled coin production, what instantly set Simon's coins apart was their use of a lettered edge-the perfect solution and ultimate guard against the clipping and counterfeiting that had so plagued English hammered coinage and led to the early experiments with mechanized coin production in the first place. Perhaps best known during the Commonwealth for his gold Pattern Broads produced for Oliver Cromwell, Simon's long service to the anti-Royalist Commonwealth likely led to his distrust by Charles II after the Restoration, the most serious consequence of which was his replacement as chief engraver by the Dutchman Jan (John) Roettiers in 1662. Demoted to the role of strictly engraving the monarchy's seals, Simon was understandably furious, and in an act intended to restore himself to the King's good graces, produced the splendid Pattern crown seen here.

    Reportedly drawn from Simon Cooper's portrait of Charles II of 1662, Simon's skill is put on full display for all to see. While the King may not have appreciated the broader bust executed by Simon, preferring the slenderer portrait by Roettiers (which can be seen on the previous lot in this sale), the design would nonetheless become one of the most instantly recognized rarities a British numismatist could hope to acquire. Capturing an expressiveness that balances between realism and heraldry, the Petition Crown renders Charles II's visage in thoroughly medallic proportions. His hair is billowing and regal, his gaze determined and unwavering, and even the strength of the muscles in his neck is realized in full. As is exemplified by the present specimen, every detail down to the denticles along the edge and Simon's own cursive signature are painstakingly cut, indicating that while Simon was indeed quite confident in his own skill, he took the production of his work very seriously. Indeed, the charming gunmetal cabinet patina of the present piece only serves to further underlie its supreme artistic quality. Whether or not M. Day was correct in his March 1961 article in Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin that Simon in fact merely "embellished" upon Roettiers' Pattern to produce his own-rather than a formal competition being staged between the two-the Crown can only be regarded as Simon's magnum opus. Even as early as 1697, John Evelyn made an entry in his diary that stated: "I cannot omit that ingenious trial of skill which a commendable emulation has produced in a medal performed with extraordinary accuracy."

    Working from John Bergne's foundational census published in the Numismatic Chronicle in 1854, we have been able to adduce a total of approximately 19 examples of the Petition Crown still in existence, several of which could admittedly be duplicates. Of those 19, 7 are known to reside in public institutional collections, and of the remaining 12, only three have been certified to date. Admittedly, while the Paramount specimen does show even wear over the devices, we feel that, considering its special production status and that it was never intended for circulation, a specimen designation may be more fitting. Though representatives of the type have graced some of the most renowned British collections of all time, those collections that did not contain a specimen are just as telling, and drive home the absolute scarcity of this piece up for offer: not Lockett, Garrett, Pittman, Whetmore, Dr. Erik Miller, nor the Duchess of Beaufort collections contained an example. For the prospective bidder's information, we have included below an up-to-date census of all examples known to us, together with their last recorded whereabouts:

    1) The National Museums of Scotland specimen (A.1911.506.350). Bequeathed to the National Museums of Scotland in 1911; John G. Murdoch Collection (Sotheby's June 1903, Lot 640); Sold to John G. Murdoch by Spink and Son; Egmont Bieber Collection (Sotheby's May 1889, Lot 277); C.S. Bale Collection (1881); Colonel Durrant Collection (Sotheby's April 1847, Lot 804); Marmaduke Trattle Collection (Sotheby's May 1832, Lot 2823); Purchased from the British Museum Duplicates sale by Marmaduke Trattle; Sale of British Museum Duplicates (Leigh & Sotheby April 1811, Lot 294); Purchased by British Museum, together with the rest of Roberts' collection, for a total of £4200; Barré Charles Roberts Collection; Purchased by Barré Charles Roberts, by private treaty, from Thomas Hollis' executor, Dr. Disney; Reportedly inherited by Brand Hollis; Thomas Hollis Collection (sold privately); Martin Folkes Collection (Samuel Baker 1756); Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford Collection (Christopher Cock March 1742, Lot 148); Given by Lord Clarendon's son to the Earl of Oxford; Reportedly presented by Charles II to Edward Hyde, Lord Chancellor Clarendon; Presented by Thomas Simon to King Charles II. (Bergne no. 1)

    2) The Stephen Fenton specimen. Purchased by Stephen Fenton from the Glenister Collection (Spink Auction 7023, September 2007, Lot 503); Privately sold by B.A. Seaby to Mr. Glenister (December 1944); H.C. Brunning Collection (Sotheby's March 1908, Lot 23); T.M. Whitehead Collection (Sotheby's May 1898, Lot 23); E. Wigan Collection (sold privately); G. Sparkes Collection (sold privately); John Baker Collection (Sotheby's June 1855, Lot 53); Daniel Jones Long Collection (Sotheby's January 1842); Sir Mark Sykes Collection (Sotheby's March 1824, Lot 367); Samuel Tyssen Collection (Leigh & Sotheby May 1802, Lot 3016); Edward Hodsol Collection (sold privately); Dr. R. Meade Collection (Abraham Langford February 1755, Lot 38). (Bergne no. 2) - Certified SP63 by NGC

    3) The Royal Mint Museum specimen (RMM 647). Bequeathed to The Royal Mint by Miss Sarah Banks, a "virtuoso collector of antiquarian items which documented the social history of her age"; Purchased by Miss Banks from the Barker Collection; G. Hollington Barker Collection (Leigh & Sotheby May 1803); Robert Salusbury Cotton Collection (1791); Sold privately by Henry Young to R. Salusbury Cotton; Privately Purchased by Henry Young. (Bergne no. 3)

    4) The British Museum specimen, no. 2. Loaned by the Bank of England to the British Museum in 1865, until 1877, when it, together with the rest of the Bank's collection, was permanently incorporated into the British Museum; Purchased, under an Act of Parliament, by the Bank of England, together with Austen's whole collection, in 1812; Robert Austen Collection (1812); Privately sold by Samuel Tyssen to David Alves Rebello; Purchased from the Browne Collection by Samuel Tyssen; Joseph Browne Collection (June 1791); William Gostling Collection (Abraham Langford June 1777). (Bergne no. 4)

    5) The ex. John Alfred Wigan and Edward Wright Wigan specimen (whose collection was purchased en bloc by Rollin & Feuardent in 1872); Purchased from the Thomas Collection by J. Alfred Wigan; Thomas Thomas Collection (Sotheby's February 1844, Lot 386); William Simonds Higgs Collection (Sotheby's April 1830, Lot 295); Sold privately by Abraham Edmonds to W. S. Higgs; Sold privately by Marmaduke Trattle to Abraham Edmonds; Sold privately by Richard Miles to Marmaduke Trattle; Purchased together with the rest of the Bootle Collection by Richard Miles; Wilbraham Bootle Collection; Supposedly owned by Thomas Selbye, though not included in the sale catalog of his collection from 1755. (Bergne no. 5)

    6) The ex. Dr. David Rees-Jones specimen. Spink Auction 117 (November 1996, Lot 117) [Cover lot; Reportedly purchased by a "G" according to our copy of the Rees-Jones catalog]; Charles M. Wormser Collection (Stack's December 1992, Lot 3440); Acquired by Charles M. Wormser c. 1974; Acquired by Wayte Raymond c. 1952; F. B. Nightingale Collection (Glendining October 1951, Lot 88); Purchased from the Carter Collection by Baldwin; Dr. E. C. Carter Collection (1950); Oswald Fitch Collection (d. 1915), purchased by Spink in 1918; Evelyn W. Rashleigh Collection (Sotheby's June 1909, Lot 1030); Purchased from the Brown Collection by dealer Johnstone, presumably for J. Rashleigh (father of Evelyn W. Rashleigh); Thomas Brown Collection (Sotheby's July 1869, Lot 618); Purchased from the White Collection by Thomas Brown (of Longman & Co.); W. A. A. White Collection (Sotheby's November 1848, Lot 568); Purchased from the Willet Collection by W. A. A. White; Ralph Willet Collection (Sotheby's March 1827, Lot 184); Acquired by H. R. Willet; Acquired by Abraham Edmonds; Acquired by F. Lambert (a silversmith), through a coin dealer named Miles; Purchased from the Grey Collection by Samuel Tyssen; Ralph Grey Collection (John Gerard February 1788); Andrew Lawrence Collection (Abraham Langford April 1762). (Bergne no. 6)

    Incorrectly stated in the Wormser catalog as the L&S-6 plate coin

    7) The Tyrant Collection specimen. The New York Sale XLIII (January 2018, Lot 1103); Rowley Butters Collection (St. James's Auction 9, June 2008, Lot 333) [cover lot]; Sold privately by Noble Numismatics to Rowley Butters; James Perley Storer Collection (Spink Auction 111, November 1995, Lot 101) [cover lot]; Norweb Collection, Part I (Spink Auction 45, June 1985, Lot 223) [cover lot]; Sold by Spink and Son to Mrs. Norweb (December 1962); William Luard Raynes Collection (Private transaction with Spink, Summer 1962); Ernest H. Wheeler Collection (Sotheby's March 1930, Lot 500); E. S. Morris Collection ("Well known collector") (Glendining July 1923, Lot 17); Thomas G. Taylor Collection (Sold privately to Spink in 1920); Bernard M. S. Roth Collection, Part I (Sotheby's July 1917, Lot 348); Richard Manley Foster Collection (Sotheby's November 1903, Lot 243); Purchased from the Webb Collection by "dealer Lincoln"; Henry Webb Collection (Sotheby's July 1894, Lot 692); Arthur Doveton Clarke Collection (Christie's June 1891, Lot 364); Purchased from the Marsham Collection by dealer J. Verity; Robert W. Marsham Collection (Sotheby's November 1888, Lot 731); William York Moore Collection (Sotheby's April 1879, Lot 255); Purchased from the Dodsley Collection by "dealer Webster"; James Dodsley Cuff Collection (Sotheby's June 1854, Lot 1373); Purchased from the Thomas Collection by "dealer Cureton"; Thomas Thomas Collection (Sotheby's February 1844, Lot 387); Thomas Dimsdale Collection (Sotheby's June 1824, Lot 1788); Purchased "for a trifle" casually by dealer Abraham Edmonds from a silversmith in the Strand. (Bergne no. 7) - Certified SP53 by PCGS

    8) The Paramount specimen (this coin). LaRiviere Collection (Spink Auction 3017, November 2003, Lot 22); Spink Numismatic Circular (November 1997, Item 5615); George R. Blake Collection (Seaby Bulletin May-June 1956, Item BL195); C. Anthony Collection (Seaby Bulletin February 1949, Item 5819A); Capt. H. E. G. Paget Collection (Glendining September 1946, Lot 229); Thomas Bryan Clarke-Thornhill Collection (Glendining May 1937, Lot 604); Glendining (November 1925, Lot 123); John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman December 1921, Lot 1326); Work Collection (supposedly sold by private transaction to John Story Jenks by Samuel Hudson & Henry Chapman in 1898); Possibly John Henderson Collection (Sotheby's June 1818, Lot 396) [stated to have been purchased by a 'Cuerton'? (possibly Harry Osborn Cureton)]; Sotheby's (June 1805 [withdrawn]); Sold by Marmaduke Trattle to Barré Charles Roberts by private treaty (23 July 1800); Sold by Mr. Hutchins' widow to Marmaduke Trattle by private treaty; Sold by G. Hollington Barker to Mr. Hutchins, auctioneer by private treaty; G. Hollington Barker Collection; Mr. Thomas Dummer Collection (John Gerard June 1785); Estate of Thomas Lee Dummer to his son, Mr. Thomas Dummer (c. 1765); Thomas Lee Dummer Collection (d. 1765). (Likely Bergne no. 8)

    Noted by Bergne to have been "said in Colonel Durrant's List to be the same which was sold at Sotheby's in July, 1795...in a sale of some of Rev. Richard Southgate's coins...Query-Was the specimen sold in 1795, No. 4 or No. 6?)".

    Bergne mistakenly states that "[n]o specimen of the Petition Crown occurs in the original Sale Catalogue of Southgate's coins", as a Petition Crown is listed as lot 71 of the Fourth Day's sale of Southgate's Collection (Leigh & Sotheby 4 July 1795).

    The original Jenks listing stated that this coin was, at the time, accompanied by a Spink tag (priced at £150), which stated: "Given by a post boy in change to Colonel Lee travelling in the Isle of Wight." While this tag has since been lost, it is possible that, by a misnomer, the "Colonel Lee" referred to was Thomas Lee Dummer, who became the Isle of Wight's representative to the English Parliament. If such a connection is correct, this would tie the concrete and more uncertain portions of the coin's provenance more soundly together.

    9) The British Museum specimen, no. 1. From the Sloane Collection, which was purchased by Parliament in 1753 as the foundation of the British Museum; Sir Hans Sloane Collection. (Bergne no. 9)

    10) The ex. J. E. Moon specimen. Sotheby's (May 1901, Lot 319) [Purchased by Spink]; Purchased by from the Montagu Collection by J. Verity; H. Montagu Collection (Sotheby's May 1888, Lot 451); Samuel Addington Collection (Purchased en bloc by Montagu in 183); R. M. Murchison Collection (Sotheby's June 1864, Lot 418); Privately sold by Parker to William Brice in 1853; Purchased from the Pembroke Collection by John Parker of Woodside; Earl of Pembroke Collection (Sotheby's July 1848, Lot 144). (Bergne no. 10)

    11) The Sir George Chetwind specimen. Purchased by Sir George Chetwind from the Duke of Devonshire Collection (Christie's March 1844, Lot 285). (Bergne no. 11)

    12) The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow specimen. Bequeathed to Glasgow University by Dr. Hunter, who had purchased it from the Dr. Sadlier Collection. (Bergne no. 12)

    13) The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford specimen. Bequeathed by Browne Willis to the Bodleian Library. (Bergne no. 13)

    14) The ex. "Mrs. Biscoe" specimen. Sold to her by a dealer, who had purchased it from a silversmith in Salisbury c. 1847. (Bergne no. 14)

    15) The Ashmolean Museum specimen. Reportedly deposited from the Library of Christ Church c. 1940, according to C.H.V. Sutherland's article "The Coin Collection of Christ Church, Oxford: A Chapter in the History of Numismatics," Oxoniensa 5; A piece supposedly preserved in the "Wake Collection" at Christ Church, Oxford, though not seen by Bergne. (Bergne no. 15)

    16) The "Nobleman" (Marquees of Aylesbury) Collection specimen. Sotheby's (June 1903, Lot 102); Stored away from 1789 to 1903. (Not in Bergne)

    From here, the provenance is largely uncertain. Geoffrey Cope (who misattributes his coin as the Nobleman specimen), states the following: Supposedly obtained by the Earl of Aylesbury, Master of the Mint until 1660, following the death of his son-in-law, the Earl of Clarendon

    However, the Nobleman catalog proposes that it might well be the piece stated by Bergne to have been recorded in the Minutes of the Society of Antiquaries (vol. IV, pg. 204), supposedly offered by a Mr. Keys of Crown and Anchor on September 6 th , 1744, and then again on November 1 st of the same year, though both times it did not sell.

    17) The Geoffrey Cope specimen. Purchased from the Slaney Collection, Part I (Spink Auction 3024, May 2003, Lot 136); Purchased by A.H. Baldwin & Son on behalf of a client; H. M. Lingford Collection (Glendining, October 1950, Lot 268); Mrs. Morrieson, widow of Lt-Col H. W. Morrieson (c. 1933). (Possibly Bergne no. 11?) = ESC-429 Plate Coin = S-3354A Plate Coin.

    18) The Fitzwilliam Museum specimen (CM.1.430-1930). Donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum by T.J.G. Duncanson of Emmanuel College in 1930; Inherited by T.J.C. Duncanson from his uncle, F. G. Smart of Caius College (d. 1913); Purchased from the Wakley Collection by Baldwin; Thomas Wakley Collection (Sotheby's December 1909, Lot 156); W. Chaffers Collection (Reportedly Lot 77, according to the Wakley catalog [not in Sotheby's February 1857 catalog of that collection]). (Possibly Bergne no. 14?)

    19) The ex. Augustus Thelluson specimen. Sotheby's (October 1931, Lot 276); Purchased by a "Smith" from the Clark Collection; Henry Clark Collection (Sotheby's May 1898, Lot 376); Arthur Briggs Collection (Sotheby's March 1893, Lot 137). (Possibly Bergne no. 14?)

    We would like to thank Jacqueline Moran (National Museums of Scotland), Richard Kelleher (Fitzwilliam Museum), and Ellie Paton (Bank of England Museum) for their assistance in tracking down the specimens in their institutions' collections. A piece also supposedly resides in the Blackburn Museum in England, though we have been unable to consult that specimen.

    From the Paramount Collection




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    Auction Dates
    March, 2021
    25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
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