NGC has graded a rare “Double Leopard” that recently sold privately for the highest price ever paid for an English coin
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified a 1344 Edward III “Double Leopard” that recently sold privately for the highest price ever paid for an English coin. Graded NGC MS 62, it is the only example of this important gold coin in private hands.
The Double Leopard was named for the two leopards featured on the reverse. It was struck in 1344 and it was England’s first large-sized gold coin. English coinage was almost exclusively silver. However, small number of tiny gold pennies struck in 1257 were the only exception. All Gold coins needed for domestic and international trade had to come from other countries such as France and Italy
Then Edward III decided that England needed its own gold coins. In 1344, England issued gold coins in the denominations of double-florin (double leopard), florin (leopard) and half florin (half leopard). The double leopard weighed 108 grains, or just under one-quarter of an ounce, to mimic the French florin then in common use. It was assigned a value of six shillings.
A Brief History
The Gold leopard coinage was extremely short-lived. Struck between January and July of 1344, they were quickly abandoned in favor of the gold noble. The Noble was a bit larger than the double leopard with a weight of 138.46 grains and a value of six shillings, eight pence. The gold noble gained popularity and on August 20, 1344, the gold leopards were officially demonetized.
Only a few gold leopards were struck and it is likely that many were melted. The double leopard was thought to have been lost to time until schoolchildren found two examples in the Tyne River in 1857. Both pieces later became part of the British Museum, where they currently reside.
A third example–the piece recently graded by NGC–was discovered by a metal detectorist in southern England nearly 150 years later in 2006. It was subsequently sold at auction for the equivalent of US$850,000. That was the highest price ever paid for a British coin at the time.
Ira Goldberg, co-owner of Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers, was the under bidder at that auction. He finally dropped out when the coin reached that astonishing price. A decade later, Goldberg was again presented with the opportunity to acquire this phenomenal rarity.
Now Goldberg seized the moment and purchased the coin for a client. His client is building a fantastic collection of important coins from England and other countries. The purchase price was not disclosed but Goldberg says that it “easily establishes this coin as the most valuable English coin of all time.”
A New Home
The NGC MS 62 Double Leopard is now part of the Tyrants Collection, a fantastic assemblage of English and other world rarities.
“Before I turned over the coin to my client, I wanted to have it certified by a third-party grading service for better long-term protection,” says Goldberg. “I showed the coin to Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC and one of its senior graders. His incredible excitement upon studying the coin convinced me that NGC was the right choice to grade it. My client and I are very pleased with the results.”
Salzberg adds, “I was simply stunned when I saw this coin. Its beauty, rarity and historical significance are truly outstanding. I am honored that Ira selected NGC to grade it.”
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