By Jesse Robitaille
What’s described as an “extremely rare unlisted date” of Saxony’s two-ducat gold coin, this a 1740-dated piece struck in what’s now Poland, was recently discovered by a Canadian dealer.
After unknowingly purchasing the aforementioned piece in a bullion collection, the dealer, who wishes to remain anonymous, was unable to find the coin in any reference books. He contacted Peter McDonald, winner of the 2018 Charles D. Moore Professional Numismatic Award, for further information.
“He found it in a lot of gold coins he purchased – a bullion collection – and he couldn’t identify it,” said McDonald. “He went through all his books, the whole nine yards, but there’s nothing on it per se, being an unlisted date,” said McDonald. “He recognized it looked like a Polish coat of arms on the reverse, but he thought, ‘What would that be doing on a German coin?’”
The dealer sent McDonald images of the coin’s obverse and reverse, the latter of which features the “FWoF” mint mark, which indicates the coin was struck by Dresden mint master Friedrich Wilhelm o Feral (1734-64).
“As soon as I saw the ‘FWoF’ mintmark, I knew it was good, but when he advised me it was 6.96 grams, I realized it was extraordinary.”
This issue normally comes with a half- or one-ducat denomination, but a two-ducat example is “special,” McDonald said, adding he checked the Gold Coins of the World catalogue authored by Arthur and Ira Friedberg, and “this date was not noted.”
Two-ducat coins dated 1735-39 with the “FWoF” mintmark are listed as #2843, but no 1740-dated examples are known.
The coins depict the right-facing bust of Frederick Augustus II, who served as elector of Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire from 1733-63, on the obverse. He was also the king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania around this time.
A crowned coat of arms of Augustus II (also known as Augustus III of Poland) is depicted on the reverse.
“Your normal Polish coins and your Saxony coins are usually half ducat or one ducat, but this is two ducats, meaning it’s a multiple,” said McDonald. “It would’ve been struck for a special occasion. Any time there’s an unlisted multiple coming onto the market almost 300 years after it was struck, it’s pretty exciting.”
CERTIFIED AS MS-62
McDonald said the dealer sent the coin to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) for same-day confirmation, and NGC has since certified the coin as Mint State-62.
“We had no intention it’d come back MS-62,” he said, adding “all of a sudden” the coin’s value increased threefold.
The coin is searchable on NGC’s online database as #4701388-001.
Upon the coin’s certification, McDonald contacted Jacco Scheper, managing director of Heritage Auctions’ Europe, who valued the coin at between 20,000 euros (about $30,275 Cdn.) and 30,000 euros (about $45,425 Cdn.).
The coin will be offered in the Jan. 6-7, 2019 New York International Numismatic Convention World Coins Signature Auction, which is widely considered to be the most prestigious annual auction in the U.S.
“There are rare, and then there is rare,” said McDonald. “This is it—rare.”
After leaving his post as general manager of Mintmaster International in 1999, McDonald established Peter McDonald Coins and operated a retail outlet on St. James St., in Old Montréal. Due to rising rental costs, he has since closed his storefront but continues selling worldwide via eBay. Throughout his career as a dealer, he has travelled to shows in Canada, the U.S. and Europe to buy, sell, build and deconstruct collections. He also assists other dealers in organizing their inventories and writes articles for various publications.
Involved in numismatics since 1977, he’s also a long-time member of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA), which recently named McDonald as the second recipient of the Charles D. Moore Professional Numismatic Award, established in 2017.
The annual award, which was given to Sandy Campbell last year, honours the person who has “consistently contributed to the advancement of Canadian Numismatics and the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association over a number of years,” according to the RCNA website.
“The recipient will have exhibited a willingness to advance the hobby through Dignity, Integrity, Truth and Knowledge. The recipient shall be selected from those professional numismatists, full- or part-time dealers, researchers and writers, publicists, and benefactors, who are members of the RCNA.”