Rare Portuguese gold coin found in farmer’s field draws interest from Canadian bidders

A massive 10 Cruzados Portuguese gold coin from the 15th Century, which had been uncovered by a metal detector in Wiltshire , sold for £16,000 ($23,893 CDN) at Mayfair auctioneers on Sept. 29. The coin was struck in Lisbon with gold recovered by Vasco de Gama from his voyages to Africa and India,  and also attracted interest from bidders as far as Canada, United States but was bought by a buyer in Japan.

This Portuguese gold coin was found in a farmer’s field in Whitshire, England.

The British auction firm said it is the first of this type of gold coin to be found in Britain and was discovered in July by Mick Edwards, 62,  using his newly-acquired Deus II metal detector. Edwards, who lives in Peterlee in County Durham, works as a civil servant and has been metal detecting for ten years. He said his hobby has helped him overcome his illness by being more mobile.

“I was staying on the farm near Etchilhampton in Wiltshire with my wife after celebrating 35 years of marriage from the day before. So far I had only found some broken crotal bells, so I walked to the top of the field for a final effort before breakfast; taking just three more steps I received a clear signal which sounded like a large copper coin.”

After digging five inches, then a further five inches and still nothing, he used his pin-pointer probe to locate the signal and saw the edge of a coin at the bottom of the hole. To his astonishment, it was a gold coin 36 millimetres in diameter and weighing over 35 grams.

“I was dumbstruck and just sat looking at the coin unable even to breathe. I could see the cross on the coin and thought it was probably Spanish but later found out it was Portuguese from the Kings name Manuel.”

Mick Edwards, 62, with his newly-acquired Deus II metal detector.

Edwards will be sharing the proceeds from the sale with the landowner, and his wife has compiled a list of how she would like to spend the money on items for the house.

Nigel Mills, consultant (Artefacts and Antiquities) at Noonans said the gold coin is rare.

“The coin featured the crowned royal arms of Portugal on the obverse with the cross of the order of Christ on the reverse with the Latin legend translated ‘In this sign shall we conquer,’ with a test punch on the reverse. In England, at this time the largest gold coin was a Sovereign which weighed 15.3 grams so this coin is more than double that in weight, so would have had a value greater than two pounds.”

A specific gravity test carried out on the coin revealed the metal content to be 99.5  per cent gold and 0.4 per cent silver.

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