Great Britain 1683 5 guineas Fr-281

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Goldberg sale 98, lot 2428
Great Britain G98-2428r.jpg
This specimen was lot 2428 in Goldberg sale 98 (Los Angeles, June 2017), where it sold for $29,375. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Great Britain. Five Guineas, 1683/2. Charles II. Second draped bust right. Reverse: Crowned cruciform shields, scepters in angles. A nice portrait and good detail in the royal shield. Only small, scattered contact marks on each side, remarkable for this large-size coin that clearly saw commercial use as money. Pleasing old-gold toning as well. Very scarce. PCGS graded AU-50. WINGS. Five golden guineas-it was a piece of money so valuable in the late 17th century that no commoner was likely ever to see, let alone hold or own, one. It could have bought barrels of beer. It could purchase a fine carriage and horses. It could feed a farming family for months. It was a rare piece of money even in 1683!

Gold itself had long been truly scarce in England. It had only become plentiful enough to be used as money during the reign of Edward III, three centuries earlier. But the royal navy had extended English influence to some of the far corners of the globe by the 1680s, and commerce had come alive via trading. An exploration company headquartered in the city of London was importing gold ore from the continent of Africa by the 1660s, and suddenly the banks and traders had solid gold coins, lots of them, with which to do business. The place of discovery, a colony along the northwest coast of Africa, was given the honor of providing the name of the new series of gold coins-minted in halves, wholes, doubles, and quintuples. The largest of all were the 5-Guineas. Their influence would allow this island nation to spread its power across the world, in pursuit of empire."

This type was struck 1680-84. There is a similar type (KM 444.2) struck during the same years with an elephant and castle added below the king's bust; this marked gold obtained from Africa.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 41.75 g, .917 fine gold, 1.2308 troy oz AGW.

Catalog reference: KM 444.1, S.3331; Fr-281.


  • Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 7th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 2003.
  • [1]Goldberg, Ira, Larry Goldberg, John Lavender, Yifu Che, Jason Villareal and Stephen Harvey, Goldberg Sale 98: the Pre-Long Beach Auction, Los Angeles: Goldberg Coins and Collectibles, 2017.
  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1601-1700, 6th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2014.
  • Lobel, Richard, Mark Davidson, Allan Hailstone and Eleni Calligas, Coincraft's Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins, 1066 to Date, London: Coincraft, 1995.

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