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    Exceedingly Rare and Superbly Detailed Pattern 2 Guineas

    George III gold Proof Pattern 2 Guineas 1768 PR64+Cameo NGC, KM-Pn49, S-3724, W&R-79 (R4; this coin), Schneider-Unl. 15.87gm. Plain edge. By J.S. Tanner. Of extreme rarity, a near-gem representative of the first date for George III's pattern 2 Guinea, and by far the most popular of the three types produced (indicated through its receiving the highest price in the Standard Catalogue). Stunningly executed with extreme care and engraving skill, this offering inspires true awe through its exceptional preservation, its provenance, and its undeniable beauty.

    The pattern 2 and 5 Guinea pieces of George III are somewhat enigmatic. The singular Guinea coins began to be issued almost immediately after George took the throne, as did the Half and Quarter Guineas. Meanwhile, patterns were produced for 2 Guinea pieces in 1768, 1773 and 1777, and for 5 Guineas in 1770, 1773 and 1777. Clearly several attempts were made to strike these larger gold pieces for circulation - but they never saw widespread production. This is likely because the overvaluation of British gold coinage in the 18th century meant that it was the only metal fairly certain to remain in domestic circulation whilst the undervalued silver and copper was sold abroad. Previously a metal which only saw extensive use amongst the well-to-do, gold coinage saw a major shift downwards, and was suddenly necessary for day-to-day transactions even for those of more modest means and as such was more useful in smaller, more manageable fractions as opposed to larger pieces (substantiated by the introduction of the hitherto unheard of Third Guinea in 1797). Accordingly, the 2 and 5 Guinea pieces were doomed to remain as patterns, the final multiple Guineas ever produced before being eventually replaced by the 2 and 5 Pounds in 1820.

    Produced in 1768, this offering represents the very first attempt to produce a higher-value gold denomination during George's reign, predating the first 5 Guinea pattern by two years. Indeed, its engraving appears to be far finer than the later 1773 and 1777 types, and on the same level as the 1770 5 Guineas, implying that as time went on the pattern quality dropped for each denomination. Sublimely glossy and eye-catching, its devices needle-sharp and fully impressed by the dies; from its superb standard of production and lack of noticeable marks and hairlines, this piece would appear to be firmly deserving of a gem level grade. Its use as the plate coin in Wilson & Rasmussen serves as indication for how far this piece stands above its peers in terms of technical quality and eye appeal, with its extensive pedigree tracing to many of the most distinguished collections only adding a further caliber of intrigue.

    None of this type have been seen at auction for five years; we were the last to offer an example, also graded PR64, though lacking the 'plus' and 'star' designations for phenomenal eye appeal, at our August 2014 ANA sale where it realized $164,500. Since then, the market for high-grade British Proofs has increased dramatically. As such, we firmly anticipate comparable or even stronger interest in this fantastic part of British numismatic history.

    Ex. Spink Auction 131 (March 1999, Lot 1108); Douglas-Morris Collection (Sotheby's November 1974, Lot 127); J. G. Brooker Collection (Spink May 1973)

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    5th-7th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,650

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