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United Kingdom, George IV, 1826 Proof Half-Sovereign, Extra Tuft - NGC PF66 UCAM Very Rare, Unrecorded in WR

- Unrecorded in Wilson and Rasmussen, the ‘extra tuft’ variety is rarer than the already-very-rare, standard 1826 proof half-sovereigns.

- One of the finest examples available to collectors.

- The result of a collaboration between three of the greatest sculptors and engravers in British history: F.L. Chantrey, W. Wyon, and J.B. Merlen.

Condition
NGC Proof 66 Ultra Cameo. Exceptional and one of the finest available. Pristine devices and a full, deep cameo. Very rare, the variety rarer still.
Obverse
Bare head left, with extra tuft of hair left of ear; date below; • GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA • [George IV, by the grace of God].
Reverse
Crowned shield of arms; BRITANNIARUM REX FID: DEF: [King of Britain, defender of the faith].
Edge
Milled.
Provenance
ex. SINCONA British Collection, SINCONA 75, lot 326, 16th May 2022.
ex. SPINK 1261, lot 373, November 2000.
Our Price:
£15,750.00
Weight
3.98 g
Diameter
approx. 19 mm
Metal
gold
Fineness
22 carat (91.67%)
Fine weight
3.648 g (0.1173 oz t)
Production method
milled
Designer
obv.: Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781-1841)
rev.: Johann B. Merlen (1769-1850)
Engraver
obv.: William Wyon (1795-1851)
rev.: Johann B. Merlen (1769-1850)
General References
Fr.380a [type]; KM.700 [type]; Marsh.407B [R]; S.3804A; WR.unlisted
Collection References
British.II.326 [this coin]; King.-; Schneider.-; Slaney.-
Certification number

There are two distinct varieties of the 1826 proof half sovereign: those with and without an extra tuft of hair to the left of the ear. No distinction is made by Wilson and Rasmussen and it is the variety without the extra tuft that is recorded by them as WR.249 [R2]. There is no reference to or separate reference for examples with an extra tuft. Although the standard variety is already listed as very rare the extra-tuft-variety is even rarer still, making up less than 40% of 1826 proof examples.

The design of this coin was birthed of a collaboration between three masters of the physical form: Francis Chantrey, William Wyon, and Johann Merlen. Chantrey, a sculptor famed for ability to bring the warm and soft reality of human form to the cold and hard media of sculpture, created the model of the king from which the master engraver Wyon skilfully and painstakingly engraved in steel. Merlen both designed and engraved the delicate and well-proportioned reverse, which would go on to be immortalised in the half sovereign series.

Proof 66 Ultra Cameo is a fiercely high grade and puts this coin among the top five examples available for the issue. The impressiveness of the grade is reflected in the coin itself, which features immaculate devices and a deep cameo that is so sought after on these proof issues. The humanity and dignity that Chantrey somehow manages to bring to the face of the king is as captivating as his flowing curls, each painstakingly moulded by the sculptor then engraved by Wyon. Only with the strike of a proof issue can these achievements in fine style be fully appreciated. Merlen’s enduring reverse perfectly complements the obverse making this a truly wonderful coin to behold.

George IV (1762-1830)

George IV was the personification of the decadent Regency period. Although the technical span of his reign was from 1820 to 1830, he had been in control of the country since early 1811 when his father’s debilitations forced a retirement in all practical senses. George, as Prince Regent, led (or was supposed to lead) the country through the Napoleonic Wars and 1816, and The Year Without a Summer - when one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in 1,300 years plunged half of the world into a false winter with very real consequences. Nothing grew. And as such poverty was rampant. The tastes of the Prince however became more and more repugnant in their resplendence, growing almost as quickly as the public’s resentment of their deluded and gluttonous leader. Civil unrest bubbled and foamed only to be crushed with new, authoritarian laws such as the death penalty for unlicensed public meetings. Parliament agreed to clear the Prince’s debts if he would take a wife; which he did, only to disown and treat her with the cruel and cold brutality he had become so accustomed to.

With his coronation, this story only continued. King George IV fiercely fought parliamentary reform while defending religious intolerance. Towards the end of his life, ashamed of his bloated physical appearance and diminished public appeal, the King eschewed public life and preferred to live his hedonism in private. He died in 1830, deranged, grossly overweight and a laughingstock.

The British Collection

This coin graced the illustrious British Collection, sold by the Swiss auction house SINCONA in two parts. The collection is one of the most complete and important collections of British coinage ever to exist. Assembled over 50 years of collecting with pieces spanning nearly six centuries and all of astounding quality, the collection sold for $5.8 million and stands as a momentous event in British numismatics, likely not to be bested for years to come.

It is worth noting however that most of the coins in the sale were sold without their provenances, much of which were of the highest prestige. Independent research on our part has been successful in reuniting some of these significant pieces with their history.

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Rest of the world

Orders to rest of the world are shipped via Royal Mail up to an order value of £2,500, via DHL on order values over £2,500. Insurance cover at 0.5% of order total will be added. Prices are excluding VAT.

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