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    A Wonderful Ansell Sovereign!

    Victoria gold "Ansell" Sovereign 1859, Young Head, S3852E, Marsh-42A (R4: estimated 15-25 known)), AU55 PCGS, a really exceptional and also beautiful example of the so-called brittle sovereign, here showing almost full luster, satiny in quality, just a slight rub on the portrait, sharp in strike with the portrait just delightful and the royal shield very well detailed, all glowing with a bright orange-gold toning. In fact, this beauty appears to be finer than the plate coin in Michael Marsh's study of the gold sovereign. The extra line on the queen's hair fillet is bold. The entire obverse legend is ghosted, most dramatically on the date and the queen's name. A short diebreak transects the first digit of the date; another appears midway between the monarch's name and DEI and drops vertically, fading through the middle of Victoria's cheek; a third runs from the rim in between the "T" and "A" of GRATIA. The classic date engraving on this issue shows the "5" lacking the left vertical. On the reverse, the final proof that this is an Ansell sovereign is the blundered "F" in DEF at the end of the legend, where a second full letter sets above the in-line "F", touching the rim beading. As well, the "D" in this word is placed over a partly visible, slanted "D" beneath it. These features can be seen on the plate coin shown in Marsh's study, on page 55, plate 16. This rarity takes its name from George Frederick Ansell, who worked at the Royal Mint during this period, apparently in the smelting room, where in this year he asked permission to use a quantity of gold that came into the mint but was assayed and found to contain enough antimony, arsenic and lead that it was deemed, at first, to be unusable for coinage. Ansell received permission to work the gold specie chemically, and economically made it usable. In order to dispel the initial opinion of the mint master that the trace metals in the specie might make it too brittle for coining, Ansell had the extra line added to the queen's hair fillet so that his sovereigns might be identified and tested. They were duly tested and were found to be fully fit for commerce, not at all brittle, and thus were released into commercial use. It is not known exactly when they were first called "brittle" by numismatists, or possibly they were so called in jest by Ansell. Nor were these coins noticed for many years by collectors, so that, by the time they were recognized, most had perished and the remaining known pieces mostly show years of commercial wear. The specimen offered in this lot is really an exception to the rule, a first-class example of this now-famous rarity, and very desirable as such. In the numerical grade assigned by the slabbing company, AU55, this coin should easily merit the value given for "EF" in the SCBC, which is £4,500 (about $7,250). No value is given for an Unc example.

    Note for clients in the European Union: This lot is considered by the European Union to be “investment gold”. We believe that it meets the criteria established in Article 344(1), point (2) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC and thus should be exempt from import VAT regardless of the selling price. Any questions or concerns about VAT should be addressed to your accountant or local tax authority.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2011
    2nd-3rd Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,616

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