Royal Mint to auction rare sovereign

The U.K.’s Royal Mint recently announced the acquisition of a rare 500-year-old gold sovereign, the earliest example available to collectors, that’s now slated for auction on March 4.

Bidding for the circa 1489 “Type 2” Henry VII sovereign, one of only two privately owned examples, opens at £950,000 (about $1.6 million Cdn.). It’s the latest of several rare and historic coins offered by the Royal Mint in the past two years.

“We are delighted to have acquired such a rare coin which traces its history to the first Tudor king,” said Rebecca Morgan, divisional director of collector services, who added this gold coin’s survival rate is “minuscule.”

“Our experts have checked and validated the coin, and there are just two left in private ownership, making this an incredibly exciting addition to a collection.”

Henry VII, the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his 1485 seizure of the crown until his 1509 death, commissioned the coin to be produced from Oct. 28, 1489, to assert his authority as the first monarch from the House of Tudor.

“The Royal Mint was originally based at the Tower of London, and this coin would have been hand struck on ‘Mint Street,’ which still stands today,” added Morgan. “What makes this coin even more fascinating is that we can trace its ownership back to the 1800s.”

The sovereign was the largest hammered gold coin of the Tudor period, measuring about 40 millimetres in diameter, one millimetre thick and 15.3 grams in weight. Issued in 23.33-karat gold (0.995 fineness), the coin is graded About Uncirculated-50 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., and its provenance can be traced back to the Victorian era through six named collectors, including world-renowned banker J.P. Morgan.

The online auction will be held on March 4, marking the first of a series of online auctions to be held by the Royal Mint, whose collector services division recently acquired the coin.

For the sovereign, prospective bidders must pay a £20,000 (about $35,000 Cdn.) deposit – fully refunded to all unsuccessful bidders – and there is no buyer’s premium.

To participate as either a bidder or observer, register by March 1 via

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