1809 Bank of Guernsey 5S Bishop de Jersey & Co Graded NGC AU 58
The 1809 Bank of Guernsey 5 Shilling Token (or Crown—the British name for a 5 Shilling silver coin) issued by Bishop, de Jersey & Co. is considered to be one of the rarest crowns in the world. An estimated six to seven examples are believed to still exist of this coin. One was recently submitted to NGC where it received a grade of NGC AU 58.
A small island in the British Channel near France, Guernsey primarily used French coinage in commerce prior to 1800. In the early 19th century, Abraham Bishop and Henry de Jersey, who were traders and silversmiths, joined together to form a private bank called Bishop, de Jersey & Co. Following their success in issuing banknotes, Bishop, de Jersey & Co. decided to issue coins.
The Bishop, de Jersey & Co Bank of Guernsey Crown was struck at the famed Soho Mint of Boulton & Watt in Birmingham, England. The dies were engraved by Thomas Wyon (the elder) and the coins were struck over circulating Spanish 8 Reales. They were assigned the value of “token of five shillings” and were dated 1809.
Guernsey, however, was not enthusiastic about the privately issued coins and moved quickly to ban them. An ordinance dated October 2, 1809, forbade the circulation of these coins and made all privately struck tokens illegal. The Bank of Guernsey Crowns were quickly removed from circulation and melted. Two years later, the Bank of Guernsey failed.
These rare pieces were the first silver coins issued for Guernsey and the only silver coins struck until 1972. This NGC AU 58 example is the first to have been graded by NGC.