Two examples of the 1839 British Proof “Una and the Lion” Five Pounds coin took top honors in Heritage Auctions’ May 6-7 World and Ancient Coins Platinum Night Auction. Overall nearly $9 million USD in rare world and ancient coins changed hands, with more than 3,200 bidders participating. All prices include a 20% Buyer’s Premium.
Likely the most celebrated type in British numismatics and William Wyon’s undisputed masterpiece, the Una and the Lion 5 Pounds easily ranks as one of the most desirable rarities collectors can hope to acquire. Made exclusively for inclusion in Queen Victoria’s 1839 Proof set, it is supposed that only around 400 of these magnificent coins were originally produced, though contemporary demand made it necessary for the Royal Mint to produce examples to-order for almost 50 years until 1886.
This auction featured two examples of this iconic coin, with a Proof-63 Deep Cameo example selling for $420,000 and a similar coin graded Proof-62+ Deep Cameo bringing $372,000. Both coins were graded by PCGS.
The top Ancient Coin lot of the auction was a gold aureus of Gaius “Caligula” with Germanicus, graded by NGC as Choice XF 4/5 – 4/5, which realized $156,000. This very rare piece, minted in the early portion of Caligula’s reign, is notable for its portraits on opposite sides of both the then-current emperor and his father, a renowned and beloved general who, although having died nearly 20 years earlier, remained extremely popular.
Some of the additional highlights of this auction included:
- Claudius I (AD 41-54). AV aureus (19mm, 7.74 gm, 7h). NGC MSstar 5/5 – 4/5. Rome, AD 41-42. RIC I 15. Calicó 356. Sold for: $144,000
- Otho (15 January-16 April AD 69). AV aureus. NGC VFstar 5/5 – 4/5. Rome. RIC I 7. Calicó 531a. Sold for: $144,000
- Great Britain: Victoria 11-Piece Certified Proof Set 1887 NGC. Sold for: $132,000
- Calabria. Tarentum. Time of Pyrrhus of Epirus (ca. 276-272 BC). AV stater. NGC MS 5/5 – 4/5, Fine Style. Sold for: $114,000
- Domitian, as Caesar (AD 81-96). AV aureus. NGC MS 5/5 – 4/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 77-78. RIC II (Vespasian) 959. Calicó 819. Sold for: $108,000
- Charles I gold “Ormonde” Pistole ND (1646) XF45 NGC. Sold for: $102,000