By Jeremy Bostwick – Senior Numismatist & Cataloger, Stack’s Bowers ……
An English gold coin first minted under King Edward III in 1344, the noble became a popular type with robust, intricate iconography on each side, similar to other contemporary gold issues circulating throughout Western Europe. The obverse—commemorating the English naval victory at the Battle of Sluys in 1340—features Edward standing facing within a ship, alluding to this maritime conflict. In his hands, he holds a sword and a shield, clearly prepared for battle.
A century later, Edward IV augmented this design by placing a rose on the side of the ship, directly below the standing monarch, to distinguish the type from its earlier brethren that had a different weight standard.
By the mid-16th century, the ubiquitous and recognizable nature of the denomination made it popular in trade, such as in the Low Countries, where it was known as the “rozenobel” (rose nobel). The overall motifs were retained, with a royal figure standing in a ship, but with more locally appropriate legends. Various mints within the United Provinces issued their own take on this longstanding type, and it continued to flourish in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Our Official Auction of the 2020 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) will offer one of these rose nobels, though it is accompanied by numismatic intrigue.
It was offered previously by Stack’s in January 2008 where it was uncertified and presented merely as a single rose nobel. The specimen in question, now graded by PCGS as MS-63, is twice the weight of what would normally be expected, making it the rather unusual denomination of a double rose nobel. Though not unheard of, double rose nobles are exceedingly rare and, when encountered, usually date to the early 17th century.
This piece, however, dates to the final quarter of the 16th century. What exactly is this type? And, being unlisted in and unknown to Delmonte and Friedberg, how could it have gone undetected for all this time?
Some numismatic investigative work (with the aid of the internet) eventually brought an answer, which was lying in the pages of the “Golden Sale of the Century”, Part II—a sale presented by Abner Kreisberg and Hans Schulman in January 1963. Rather astonishingly, lot #3266 was nothing other than this piece, described as a “double rose nobel, without date (about 1580),” and graded “superb fdc gem,”—the plate corresponding perfectly to the piece we offer in our January 2020 sale.
Of even greater importance than merely linking it to an important sale, however, was the additional pedigree information that pertained to this specimen: “The unique coin from Rynbende coll. 1890, not in Verkade,” and “From Westhoff cabinet 4549.” This astonishing piece emanated from not just one, but two prominent 19th-century collections, the latter being the Rynbende/Rijnbende Collection from 1890, and the earlier being the Westhoff Collection from 1848! What had long since been lost to numismatic scholarship now stands rediscovered, allowing for further study into this unusual denomination and this singular, unique specimen that was possibly made as a presentation piece rather than for circulation.
Whatever lay behind its origin, this choice example should attract intense interest and fanfare as it regains recognition of its existence after remaining unknown for decades.
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To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit StacksBowers.com where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.
We are always seeking coins, medals, and pieces of paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions for our next Collectors Choice Online auction will be in February 2020. Following that, our next showcase auction will be our Official Auction of the Hong Kong Show in March 2020—a monumental event that will mark our 10th anniversary of auctions in Asia! If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today at 800-458-4646 or by email at [email protected] and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.