Great Britain 1681 half crown KM-438.4

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Heritage sale 3035, lot 30770
Great Britain H3035-30770r.jpg
This specimen was lot 30770 in Heritage sale 3035 (Long Beach, September 2014), where it sold for $35,250. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Charles II "Elephant & Castle" 1/2 Crown 1681 AU55 PCGS. An item of unestimable importance, both as a historic issue and more specifically as an individual coin. As a type, the "Elephant & Castle" coinage in both silver and gold has long been sought because of its unbreakable link with the western Africa trade route. As history tells us, not long after the English Restoration, James Duke of York, brother of King Charles II and head of the mercantile Royal African Company, made arrangements to have the ore acquired from the Gambia river in Africa coined. These coins, first hallmarked with the African native elephant, would later be revised to the more regal Elephant & Castle, a symbol that also became the focal point of the company's crest. Of these issues, gold denominations, while scarce in their own right, are far more abundant. Silver however was obviously acquired in very limited quantity, resulting in the coining of relatively few shillings, halfcrowns and crowns; in total, it is estimated that no more than 20 examples of the 1681 halfcrown exist in all grades.

The present offering, a marvel of existence, has a pedigree tracing back 130 years and has been recognized as the finest survivor (Sotheby's 1903 - "believed to be the finest specimen known") of its type for over a century. Perfectly original, the surfaces showcase splendid earthen hues with a touch of iridescence around the devices from its certain long-term cabinet placement. The strike exhibits near full detail, with the faintest wisp of highpoint friction contributing to the grade. Some haymarking is seen on both sides, but its appearance is neither excessive or unsightly. No abrasions of significance are visible. An altogether exceptional piece - a "famous" coin! - that, not surprisingly, is accompanied by one of the most impressive pedigrees chains that we have ever seen.

Pedigree: George Wakeford Collection (Chapman 11/1884 - Lot 200); Hyman Montagu Collection (Sotheby's 11/1896 - Lot 805); John G. Murdoch Collection (Sotheby's 6/1903 - Lot 597); C.E.G. Mackerell Collection (Sotheby's 5/1905 - Lot 26); Spink Numismatic Circular 7/1942 - No. 15448; Spink 3/2004 - Lot 191 @ £19,000 (excluding BP)."

The half crown without the elephant and castle below the bust is common.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 15.05 g, .925 fine silver.

Catalog reference: KM 438.4, S-3370, ESC-488 (R4).


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700, 6th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2014.
  • Skingley, Philip, ed., Standard Catalogue of British Coins: Coins of England & the United Kingdom, 46th edition, London: Spink & Son, 2011.
  • 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.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, and Warren Tucker, Heritage Signature Auction 3035, World and Ancient Coins, featuring the FoxLair Collection and the Law Collection, Dallas: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2014.

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