Spink is delighted to announce the forthcoming sale of an excessively rare Edward VIII Pattern Penny at its London auction house on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.
This trial coin, never released for circulation as a result of the King’s abdication in December 1936, is appearing for the very first time at a UK public auction. It is anticipated to fetch more than £60,000 (about $72,228 USD). Only one other example of a 1937 Pattern Penny is in private hands and currently resides in the United States of America.
Auctioneer and Coin Specialist Gregory Edmund adds:
“The abdication crisis of 1936 has ensured that Edward VIII has become a ‘numismatic holy grail’ in any British coin collection. So enduring is the scandal that surrounded his short-lived reign, that collectors from around the world battle fiercely to own them. As a result, the appearance of any Edward VIII coinage becomes an often once-in-a-generation event. The reason? The very few people fortunate enough to possess an example of his coinage are captivated by its unique historical mystique which simply transcends their own private collecting world…..they also realize that if sold, they would find it practically impossible to replace.
“I am therefore delighted and humbled that the collector, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has consigned the coin to Spink – noting our international renown as specialist numismatic auctioneers, as well as our extensive previous experience of handling other extremely rare pattern coins of Edward VIII.”
An example of an Edward VIII gold Sovereign, formerly auctioned by Spink, resold in 2014 for a then British record of £430,000 (almost $517,500 USD today).
History of the coin – Why is it so rare?
This ‘Pattern’ was one of a tiny handful of trial coins that were quietly-produced by the Royal Mint in anticipation of Edward VIII’s coronation in 1937 – an event that infamously never happened as a result of his abdication in December 1936 to marry twice-divorcee American Wallis Simpson. As a result of this decision, his brother Albert would be crowned King, titled George VI, and the line of succession would pass to his daughter, our current Queen, Elizabeth II.
“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility, and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”
—Edward VIII, 11 December 1936, Radio broadcast to the nation
So secretive was the production of these coins, and the work of their designer Thomas Humphrey Paget and C W Coombes from the autumn 1936, that their existence was not confirmed even to members of the royal household until June 1938, when an entire set of Patterns representing the intended circulation coinage was added to the Royal Collection. Any remaining Patterns were then collected together and stored in the safe of the Deputy Master of the Royal Mint.
Upon this official’s death in September 1950, an inventory was taken of his safe in which the Pattern coins were rediscovered with the note: ‘not to be opened except in the presence of two senior officers of the Royal Mint’. A second set of coins was then created from this group to gift to the national collection at the British Museum, in London, with further pieces completing the trays of the Royal Mint museum’s own collection in Llantrisant, Wales. The few remaining pieces, all of different denominations, were then privately transacted with collectors, although it was not until the 1970s that any example of Edward VIII’s coins actually appeared on the open market.
Spink, the London auctioneers, have previously handled most of these coins, all of which are considered as exceptionally rarities by numismatists, and a true ‘holy-grail’ addition to any coin collection.
A coin so rare that even the ‘King’ depicted did not own one!
It is also known that Edward, titled the Duke of Windsor after abdication, petitioned the Royal Mint for a set of ‘his coins’ following the 1950 discovery. The decision was deferred to his brother, King George VI, who declined his request. Ironically, therefore, no ‘Edward VIII’ coins appeared at the sale of the Duke of Windsor’s own personal effects in New York in 1998.