Queen Elizabeth I rarity realizes record-breaking $820K

Realizations include buyer’s premium.

A Queen Elizabeth I rarity stunned the numismatic world when it sold for £480,000 (about $820,000 Cdn.) at a Spink sale earlier this week.

Certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC), the coin crossed the block during Spink & Son’s Sept. 28 Horace Hird Collection of Tudor, Stuart & Commonwealth Gold Coins & Patterns Sale. Before the sale, experts believed Hird’s entire collection was sold or gifted before his 1973 death; however,  his surviving family recently rediscovered several coins, including the 1601 Elizabeth I piece. Bidders jumped at the chance to acquire the newfound rarities, several of which represent the only known examples in private hands, according to NGC officials.

“Coin collecting is an exciting hobby because a group of rarities like these can resurface at any time and energize the numismatic world,” said Ben Wengel, NGC’s senior grading finalizer of world coins. “NGC is proud to have been entrusted with certifying these extremely important treasures from England.”

NGC certified the 1601 “Distress Relieved” gold coin, offered as Lot 51, as Mint State-61. The obverse shows Queen Elizabeth, who ruled from 1588 until her death at age 69 in 1603. The reverse has the legend “AFFLICTORVM CONSERVATRIX,” which is Latin for “Preserver of the Afflicted.” That year, while speaking to Parliament, the queen delivered a speech in which she championed relief for the poor.

Its sale set a record for the highest price paid for an English coin at a Spink auction. It sold for more than 40 times its pre-auction estimate of £10,000 to £15,000.

“Spink is honoured to have presented these spectacular rarities to the numismatic world,” said Gregory Edmund, Spink’s world coins specialist. “In lot after lot, collectors demonstrated striking confidence, knowing that these phenomenal coins were expertly authenticated, graded and encapsulated by NGC.”

The sale’s 52 coins – all certified by NGC – realized £2.8 million (about $4.75 million Cdn.) or more than £50,000 (about $85,000 Cdn.) a coin.

To mark the coins’ re-emergence, NGC encapsulated them with a custom-designed label featuring the portrait of Elizabeth I from the 1601 piece. Each of the coins is pedigreed to the Horace Hird Collection and encapsulated with a distinct black core.

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