By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers ……
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries January New York International (NYINC) sale is a magnificent event with published high estimates in excess of $9 million. One of the highlights is lot 20350, a tremendous pattern crown for Great Britain’s George III engraved by the master Benedetto Pistrucci.
According to L. Forrer (“Biographical Dictionary of Medallists”), during the new coinage manufacture in 1816 Pistrucci was employed at the mint as an outside assistant. On September 22, 1817, Thomas Wyon died and Pistrucci was offered the post of chief engraver. Since he was a foreigner this was highly contested. While at the mint he had made a friend by the name of W.R. Hamilton, who was his staunch defender.
Pistrucci performed his duties as chief engraver, though the office was kept in abeyance at least until 1828 when a compromise was made. The second engraver at the mint, William Wyon, was made chief engraver and Pistrucci was designated as “chief medalist”. Among his opponents were Mr. Hawkins, the keeper of coins and antiquities at the British Museum, and Nicholas Carlisle, secretary of the Society of Antiquaries. The latter practically accused Pistrucci of extorting money from the master of the mint. Of course this was refuted by Mr. Hamilton who ended his relationship with Mr. Carlisle.
In a letter from W.D. Haggard to Mr. Carlisle that was in the possession (as of 1909) of Messrs. Spink & Son Ltd. occurs the passage “Wyon could no more cut the beautiful gem in which Pistrucci excels than could Pistrucci engrave dies equal in beauty to those of Wyon.”
Hawkins further stated that “Pistrucci’s work is beautifully executed, and its appearance was hailed with pleasure, and with the hope, that those who were in authority were weaning themselves from their attachment to armorial bearings, and becoming alive to the beauty, interest, and importance of classical reverse.”
George III Pattern Crown
The obverse design features larger lettering in the obverse legend and the back of the truncation is chamfered sharply. The reverse differs from the standard type with fine horizontal lines within the garter. Obverse: “GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIARUM REX F: D: 1818” (George III By the Grace of God, of Britain, King, Defender of the Faith) Laureate head of King George III facing right, “Pistrucci” below bust; Reverse: “HONI . SOIT . QUI . MAL . Y . PENSE .” (Evil to him who evil thinks) Saint George and the Dragon, the ground line occupies the whole space between the garters that surrounds the design, garter ruled with fine horizontal lines, “Pistrucci” in exergue. Edge: “DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI LVIII” (An ornament and a safeguard, in the 58th year of our reign) in raised letters with rose stops.
It is clear that the present specimen is truly a work of art with impressive style, execution and is a testament to Pistrucci’s artistic ability. Lovely deep old cabinet tone throughout displays hints of blue, red and golden hues when tilted in the light. This is an important offering of a magnificent Pistrucci pattern.
While we are no longer taking consignments for our January 2018 New York International Auction, we are taking consignments of world and ancient coins as well as world paper money for the upcoming May 2018 Collector’s Choice Online Auction and the August 2018 ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction in Philadelphia. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2018 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.