By Tyler Rossi for CoinWeek …..
As of Friday, August 6, 2021, Classical Numismatic Group’s (CNG) Feature Auction 118 has been open for online bidding. It will continue to be open until each lot hammers on September 13 and 14 during the live auction, which starts at 9 am EDT on Monday, the 13th. In-person bidding will be held at the Franklin Room of the Holiday Inn Lancaster, 26 East Chestnut Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Containing 1,434 lots, this CNG auction has an assortment of stunning coins ranging from rare ancient gold to various pre-federal and colonial American types to the standard assortment of Persian and Central Asian types and everything in-between.
While this auction has many historically and numismatically important pieces, of particular interest are:
Lot 1381: A Rare Triple Unite of Charles I
This nice example of a rare type has a strong portrait and only slight ghosting on the king’s arm. Last sold publicly in Baldwin’s 2015 summer FPL, this coin fetched 65,000 GBP. Struck in 1642, Charles I used these coins to help support the Royalist cause during the English Civil War. However, used mainly as Royal gifts to specific supporters, these large gold coins were “primarily used to procure allegiance.”
With the fall of London to Parliamentarian forces, Charles I lost access to the Tower of London mint and was forced to move the royal mint east to Oxford, a nearby Royalist stronghold.
Such a large gold coin would make a beautiful centerpiece to any numismatic collection. A triple unite was equal to 60 shillings, or three pounds, and was the most valuable and largest denomination of English hammered coin ever produced. This lot has a current online bid of $28,000 USD and an estimate of $40,000.
Lot 1384: Pontefract Siege Shilling
Ex: Arthur M. Fitts III (Triton XXIV, 2021), I.Gordon (CNG, May 2012), Dr. A. Wayne (CNG, June 2006), Bonham’s (October 2002)
This type is extremely historical and stands testament to the struggle between the Royalist and Roundhead forces. Pontefract Castle was held by arguably “one of the strongest inland garrisons in the kingdom.”
However, after years of combat and lack of resupply the Castle’s second siege, lasting from 1648-1649, ended in a Parliamentarian victory.
It was during this second siege that the Castle’s defenders struck this coin. Due to the adverse conditions of working during a siege, there are very few examples of this type, and of those that survive many are poorly struck. While not fleur de coin, this piece is however above average. At the time of writing, this lot has an online bid of $4,750 and an estimate of $7,500.
Lot 672: Rare Unpublished Gold Dinar of Kushan Emperor Huvishka
From the Archytas Collection
On the obverse of this unique and unpunished coin is depicted a half-length bust of the fifth Kushan king Archytas Huvishka. Ruling from 150/1 to 190 CE, Huvishka is known for the stability of his reign and for presiding over the golden age of the empire. On its reverse can be seen the Bactrian goddess Nana, a martial deity of protection, fertility, and the moon. Usually depicted seated with a lion, this example is interesting for the fact that she is standing.
This lot has a minimum bid of $3,000 and an estimate of $5,000.
Lot 547: Undated, Hybrid Silver Zuz – Denarius
From the Father & Son Collection: Fontanille 34 (February 2012 – hammer $6,945)
During the Bar Kochba Revolt, the Jewish population began striking silver zuzzim to maintain their economic stability as best they could and to make a political statement against the power of Rome. This denomination is mentioned in the Jewish Passover Haggadah, or prayerbook, in the song “Chad Gadya”. In this song, it is said that a man bought a goat for two zuzzim – which gives a small window into the economy of the Holy Land in biblical times.
It was standard practice for these coins to be overstruck on either Roman imperial or provincial drachmas of Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Trajan, or Hadrian. This happened both because the local Jews did not possess sufficient metalworking tools during their revolt and because they were resisting the Roman prohibition to locally produced non-Roman coins. It was a severe act of political rebellion.
For this example, specifically, David Hendin writes that the lack of a date in combination with the inclusion of the High Priest Eleazar’s name makes this example a hybrid type. This is an extremely high-grade example with attractive light iridescent toning. With a minimum bid of $2,400 this lot has an estimate of $4,000.
Lot 1266: Rare 1733 Gold Dukat of Holy Roman Emperor Karl VI
Karl VI ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1711 to 1740 is known for his failed bid to claim the throne of Spain during the War of Spanish Succession and his costly quest to bequeath the empire to his eldest daughter Maria Theresa, which sparked the War of the Austrian Succession.
This gold ducat depicts the emperor in full royal regalia holding the scepter of state and a globus cruciger, both of which symbolize his authority. On the reverse, the Austrian double-headed eagle and the Hapsburg crest form the main device. With lots of luster and eye appeal, this piece is highly attractive. This lot has a current bid of $4,250 and an estimate of $5,000.
Lot 1244: Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Queen Sybelle, Billon Denier
Ex: Dr. Jay M. Galst Collection and Ex Numismatica Ars Classica E (April 1995)
An emergency issue struck by Queen Sybelle during the 1187 siege of Jerusalem, this coin is quite interesting and has significant historical importance.
Founded in 1099 by Godfrey of Bouillon after the First Crusade, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was attacked and systematically dismantled by Saladin. The First Phase of the kingdom came to an end with Saladin’s siege.
The symbolism of this coin is fitting for the dire situation the Christian defenders faced. On the obverse, the Tower of David, the cornerstone of the city’s historic defenses, can be seen standing tall with multiple layers of stone walls. Also featured on the obverse is a stylized depiction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the spot where Christ was crucified. This church is one of the holiest places in Christianity. According to The Chronicle of Ernoul, a source nearly contemporary with the coin offered here, it is said that these coins were struck from the silver decorations covering the edicule, or empty tomb of Christ.
If true, the merging of martial and religious imagery has an added level of importance. By using this silver, Sybelle was providing a further blessing to the Crusader knight’s cause.
One of only 12 examples known, this coin is very rare. This lot has already passed the estimate of $1,500 and has a current bid of $2,750.
With coins from many cultures and times for all budgets, there is a lot for every numismatist in this sale. Happy bidding!
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About the Author
Tyler Rossi is currently a graduate student at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management and studies Sustainable International Development and Conflict Resolution. Before graduating from American University in Washington D.C., he worked for Save the Children creating and running international development projects. Recently, Tyler returned to the US from living abroad in the Republic of North Macedonia, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years. Tyler is an avid numismatist and for over a decade has cultivated a deep interest in pre-modern and ancient coinage from around the world. He is a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA).