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    The First "St. George and the Dragon" Crown

    George III silver Pattern Crown 1817 AU55 NGC, L&S-163, ESC-2033 (R6; this coin), Murdoch-256 (this coin). By Benedetto Pistrucci, and from this engraver's personal collection. Absolutely stunning; an outstanding pattern Crown of the highest rarity, and one of the finest and most charismatic types to emerge from the numismatic overhaul of 1816-1818.

    The years leading up to the Great Recoinage of 1816 were turbulent for the British economy; following decades of silver and copper shortage, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars had drained resources and dramatically increased the national debt. Overvalued gold pushed the undervalued silver coins abroad, leading to severe imbalances in circulating coinage and consequent economic turmoil. To combat this, the Great Recoinage reduced the quantity of precious metals in both the gold and silver coins, rendering their face value greater than their fabric value and ensuring that they could not be traded for profit elsewhere. New coins began to be struck bearing intricate designs engraved by the Italian artist Benedetto Pistrucci.

    The order in which Pistrucci's coins were introduced effectively illustrates the public demand for them--beginning immediately in 1816 with minor silver coinage consisting of Sixpences, Shillings and Halfcrowns (which had been out of production since 1787 and desperately needed), followed by the Sovereign and Half Sovereigns in 1817 and finally topped off by the Crowns in 1818. Of this entire mintage, the Sovereign is perhaps the most iconic, successor to the 21-Shilling Guinea but reduced to a rounder 20 Shillings and bearing the celebrated design of St. George vanquishing the dragon. The Crown, being a less vital and larger silver denomination, was the last of the common types to be produced but followed a year of intense experimentation and pattern creation, cumulating in such masterpieces as the present offering.

    A successor to his St. George design, Pistrucci created this Crown as a larger, silver version of his Sovereign (which had become an instant numismatic icon). Despite its mid-AU attribution, this piece is evidently as-made; free from wear with only light contact marks to the high points, its devices razor-sharp and illuminated through an argent gleam, a smokier tone developing at the peripheries providing a dark frame for the steel-gray centers. Definitively struck yet slightly off-center on the planchet, its weight of 36 grams indicative of an oversized, experimental flan. Notably, the reverse shows a faint raised gridwork in the field behind St. George and the dragon, which Pistrucci used to scale up his Sovereign design to fit a Crown sized planchet, a testament to the pattern status of this piece and a wonderful glimpse into the art of engraving. Despite its receiving of an 'R6' grade by ESC, auction record shows no other examples of this type ever having surfaced and, indeed, the fact that this piece serves as the ESC plate coin and belonged to the engraver himself implies a very special status. Accordingly it would not be unreasonable to assume that this piece is unique. A must-have specimen for the uppermost tier of Crown collectors, a coin of undeniable charm and beauty, and a piece of British numismatic history.

    Ex. A. H. Whetmore Collection (July 1961); Dr. T. Wakley Jr. Collection (December 1909); J. G. Murdoch Collection (March 1904); Benedetto Pistrucci Collection

    Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000.

    Auction Info

    Proxy Bidding Ends
    15th Thursday 5:50 pm CT
    Auction Dates
    15th Thursday
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    23 Days 8h 9m 30s
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    This lot is in: 3 - Signature® Floor Session Platinum Night (Live Floor, Live Phone, Mail, Fax, Internet, and Heritage Live):
    (Lots 32001-32405) - 6:00 PM Central Time, Thursday, August 15, 2019.
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    Additional Location Info:
    Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
    5555 N. River Road
    Rosemont, IL 60018

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