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    Marvelous "Three Graces" Crown

    George III silver Proof Pattern "Three Graces" Crown 1817 PR64+ Cameo NGC, KM-PnA77, L&S-152, ESC-2020 (R2). Plain edge. By William Wyon. A veritable jewel of a coin, a type which scarcely requires an introduction: the 'Three Graces' pattern Crown, one of the greatest British numismatic masterpieces ever produced. Whereas one often sees significant rarities represented by, say, an unlisted date for a type or a mule striking, this is an example of when undeniable beauty meets extreme scarcity of production. The significance of this design, this Crown, cannot be downplayed, and has its roots in the numismatic turmoil of the 18th century.

    In 1717, Britain established a de facto gold standard resulting from the fixing of the Guinea's value at 21 Shillings. This act led to a severe overvaluation of gold relative to silver, and caused drastic changes to coinage production. Silver was sent abroad to be used for payments, whilst gold was used domestically to pay for export goods, meaning that, by the early 19th century, production of silver coinage had effectively halted whilst gold had been divided up into Guineas, Half Guineas, Third Guineas and Quarter Guineas. These minor gold denominations bore somewhat simplistic designs engraved by Pingo, gold coinage being now so commonplace that it ceased to act as a medium for medalists to exhibit their finest work. The imbalance of metals continued until the Great Recoinage of 1816, at which point the weight of silver coinage was reduced to below face value--thus rendering it a 'token coinage', and effectively halting its widescale export.

    Such stability fostered a complete overhaul of coinage design, and in 1816 Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences were created using the designs of the Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. However, as is usual for such a transition, other engravers also took the opportunity to prove their skill, including of course the famous William Wyon; and prove his skill he did, via the present offering. The Three Graces Crown simply has no equal. Its neoclassical beauty, its energy, sensitivity, realism, all embody a talent hitherto absent from British numismatics. Drawing on Pistrucci's portrait of George, Wyon has softened the King's bullish features and imbued a delicate curvature to his cheek, humanizing the slightly monstrous visage seen on the 1816 coinage. It is the reverse, though, which has given the Crown its name, and with good cause. England, Ireland and Scotland stand anthropomorphized as the Three Graces of Greek mythology; wrapped in a circular embrace, these three Goddesses certainly represent a United Kingdom. This impression is bolstered by the two words forming the simple legend: FOEDUS INVIOLABILE, or 'An Unbreakable Treaty'.

    Only 50 of these patterns were produced, and of this number few can have survived in as remarkable a state as this near-gem. Clearly, whomever has had guardianship of this piece has protected it to a degree befitting its beauty. The frosting on George's portrait and the reverse trio seems worthy of an 'Ultra Cameo' designation (unheard of for this type), the matte frost devoid of contact marks. The fields have matured an elegant cobalt-and-magenta coating, flaring with red and gold when turned in the light. A Crown which impresses at every turn, and unquestionably an offering deserving of your full attention, admiration and anticipation for the moment it crosses the auction block.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2019
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,443

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