A Queen Elizabeth I rarity that was certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) stunned the coin collecting world when it sold for £480,000 (about $650,000 USD) at a Spink sale on September 28, 2021. Six other NGC-certified English gold coins realized prices over £100,000 in the Horace Hird Collection of Tudor, Stuart, and Commonwealth Gold Coins and Patterns sale.
Experts believed that Hird’s entire collection had been sold or gifted prior to his death in 1973, but these exquisite coins were recently rediscovered by his family. Bidders jumped at the chance to acquire them, some of which represent the only example known in private hands. The 52 coins in the sale, which are all certified by NGC, realized a dizzying £2.8 million (about $3.8 million USD), or over £50,000 (over $70,000 USD) per coin.
A Record-Setting Queen
The England 1601 Gold Distress Relieved example graded NGC MS 61 (lot 51) set a record for the highest price paid for an English coin at a Spink auction. It obliterated its pre-auction estimate of £10,000 to £15,000 (about $14,000 to $20,000 USD), as did many other coins in the sale.
The obverse shows Queen Elizabeth, who ruled from 1558 until her death at age 69 in 1603. The reverse has the legend AFFLICTORVM CONSERVATRIX, which is Latin for “Preserver of the Afflicted.” The queen delivered a speech to Parliament in 1601 in which she championed relief for the poor.
“Spink is honored to have presented these spectacular rarities to the numismatic world,” said Gregory Edmund, World Coins Specialist with Spink. “In lot after lot, collectors demonstrated striking confidence, knowing that these phenomenal coins were expertly authenticated, graded and encapsulated by NGC.”
Two Ryals Each Realize Over $250,000
The next-highest result was achieved by an England (1611-12) Ryal graded NGC MS 64★ (lot 34) that realized £312,000 (about $420,000 USD), more than triple its pre-auction estimate of £50,000 to £80,000 (about $68,000 to $108,000 USD). Issued during the reign of King James I, the hammered gold coin is sometimes called a “Spur Ryal” because of the image on the reverse, which shows a rose upon a sun with multiple pointed rays radiating outward like spurs.
Another coin of Elizabeth I also drew spirited bidding. An England (1587-89) Ryal graded NGC AU 58+ (lot 33) realized £204,000 (about $275,000 USD), well above its pre-auction estimate of £40,000 to £60,000 (about $54,000 to $81,000 USD). Also known as an “Armada Rose Noble”, the coin shows the queen on the deck of a Tudor galleon while holding the royal orb and scepter. It was struck at the time of the Spanish Armada and bears the iconic Tudor rose.
Numismatic Treasures Sure to be Remembered
“Coin collecting is an exciting hobby because a group of rarities like these can resurface at any time and energize the numismatic world,” said Ben Wengel, NGC Senior Grading Finalizer of World Coins. “NGC is proud to have been entrusted with certifying these extremely important treasures from England.”
To celebrate the significance of these coins re-entering the spotlight, NGC encapsulated them with a custom-designed label that includes an image of Elizabeth I from the 1601 piece. Each coin is pedigreed to the Horace Hird Collection and encapsulated with a distinguished black core that further enhances their artistry.
Other highlights in the sale included:
- An England (1625-49) Gold Pattern Unite graded NGC AU 58 (lot 52) that realized £180,000 (about $240,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £15,000 to £25,000 (about $20,000 to $34,000 USD)
- An England (1505-09) Sovereign graded NGC XF 40 (lot 42) that realized £156,000 (about $211,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £20,000 to £30,000 (about $28,000 to $41,000 USD)
- An England (1526-29) George Noble graded NGC AU 53 (lot 32) that realized £144,000 (about $195,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £40,000 to £60,000 (about $54,000 to $81,000 USD)
- An England (1598-1600) England Pound graded NGC MS 65 (lot 36) that realized £144,000 (about $195,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £15,000 to £25,000 (about $20,000 to $34,000 USD)
- An England 1644 Unite graded NGC MS 66 (lot 40) that realized £72,000 (about $97,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £8,000 to £12,000 (about $11,000 to $16,000 USD)
- An England (1584-86) Sovereign graded NGC MS 62+ (lot 46) that realized 72,000 (about $97,000), above its pre-auction estimate of £30,000 to £40,000 (about $41,000 to $55,000 USD)
- An England (1613) Ryal graded NGC MS 63 (lot 49) that realized £69,600 (about $94,000 USD) with an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000 (about $28,000 to $41,000 USD)
- An England (1547-51) Bristol Sovereign – Henry VIII Posthumous graded NGC AU 55 (lot 44) that realized £67,200 (about $91,000 USD), well over its pre-auction estimate of £15,000 to £25,000 (about $20,000 to $34,000 USD)
- An England (1582-84) Sovereign graded NGC AU 55 (lot 45) that realized £66,000 (about $89,000 USD), well above its pre-auction estimate of £20,000 to £30,000 (about $28,000 to $41,000 USD)
Prices realized include buyer’s premium. All estimates provided by the auction house.
Error in the article: She ruled from 1558 to 1603, not 1588.