Great Britain 1666 crown

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Goldberg sale 110, lot 2215
GB G110-2215r.jpg
This specimen was lot 2215 in Goldberg sale 110 (Los Angeles, June 2019), where it sold for $8,400. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Great Britain. Crown, 1666. Charles II, 1660-1685. Obverse: Portrait of Charles II by John Roettier. Second laureate draped bust right. CAROLVS II DEI GRATIA. Reverse: Inverted die axis, crowned cruciform shields with interlinked Cs in the angles. Edge reads: DECVS ET TVTAMEN ANNO REGNI XVIII. Well struck with only the lightest of wear, there is a remarkable absence of marking or abrasion on this rare piece. Toned in shades of magenta and gold, this Crown was the largest silver coin struck in the year when the Great Fire of London raged. An extremely fine specimen. Rarely bettered.

In 1666 lath and plaster houses, crowded together, allowed town fires to spread rapidly. The fire of that year in London was a misfortune which became a catastrophe, as a strong wind carried the flames through virtually the entire city. But when London was rebuilt the new brick structures were not only more fire-resistant, but also less hospitable to rats and other disease carrying organisms. In September 1666 the Great Fire destroyed 13,500 houses in the city. For a while it paralysed the national finances,and caused the government which was tied up in a war with Holland, to negotiate a peace settlement. 87 parish churches were also destroyed, 44 Company Halls, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St Paul's Cathedral, the Bridewell Palace, and other City prisons, the General Letter Office and the three western gates - Ludgate, Newgate and Aldersgate.

An example of the urge to create scapegoats for the Great Fire of London is the acceptance of the confession of a simple-minded French watchmaker named Robert Hubert, who claimed that he was an agent of the Pope and had started the Great Fire in Westminster. He later changed his story to say that he had started the fire at the bakery in Pudding Lane. He was convicted, although he was not really fit to plead, and he was then hanged at Tyburn on 28th September 1666. Some time after this, it became evident that he had been on board a ship in the North Sea when the fire started, and he did not arrive in London until two days later."

This type is listed in the SCWC for 1664-67 and is fairly inexpensive in grades up to Fine but ascends rapidly with grade. It has the regnal year on the edge marked in Roman numerals; later issues would have the year spelled out in Latin. An expensive variety exists with an elephant below the bust (S-3356).

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 30.10 g, .925 fine silver, .895 troy oz ASW, lettered edge.

Catalog reference: S.3355; ESC-32; Dav-3775; KM-422.1.


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700, 6th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2014.
  • Rayner, P. Alan, and Maurice Bull, English Silver Coinage from 1649, 6th Ed., London: Spink & Son, 2015.
  • Lobel, Richard, Mark Davidson, Allan Hailstone and Eleni Calligas, Coincraft's Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins, 1066 to Date, London: Coincraft, 1995.
  • Skingley, Philip, ed., Standard Catalogue of British Coins: Coins of England & the United Kingdom, 46th edition, London: Spink & Son, 2011.
  • [1]Goldberg, Ira, Larry Goldberg, John Lavender, Yifu Che, Jason Villareal and Stephen Harvey, Goldberg Sale 110: the Pre-Long Beach Auction, Los Angeles: Goldberg Coins and Collectibles, 2019.

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