On January 11, 2013, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the official grading service of the American Numismatic Association and the Professional Numismatists’s Guild, announced the NGC Collector’s Society 2012 NGC Registry Award Winners. The Young Victoria Collection was awarded the Best in Category in World Coin Competitive Sets, Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue. Although The Young Victoria Collection is limited to shield sovereigns from 1838 to 1874, which is only just over half of the years in NGC’s set category, the NGC Competitive Set category was probably the closest fit.
There were two limitations to the Competitive Set category that prevented listing some of the finest coins in The Young Victoria Collection:
- The Competitive Sets are limited to NGC graded coins only. Coins graded by other professional grading services are not eligible. This prevented inclusion of perhaps the finest coin in the collection, in terms of condition, a lovely 1861 Sovereign graded Mint State 64 by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Here it is, as described by the Heritage Auctions cataloger in 2011:
Victoria, Gold Sovereign, 1861, S3852D, KM736.1, Young Head, MS64 PCGS, another beautiful and very choice coin from this consignor, a specialist in high-grade sovereigns, this piece boldly struck and having superb color, indicating it is original. Very scarce indeed in this state of preservation. Normal date, although the first digit is sharply recut.
ex Hillgrove Collection
From the 2011 September Long Beach Signature World & Ancient Coins Auction #3015, 8 September 2011, Lot 25001.
- The Competitive Sets exclude any coins that are not professionally graded (i.e., “raw”), regardless of their condition. This prevented inclusion of two of the rarest coins in The Young Victoria Collection, each possibly the finest example of its type known, acquired during the first two auctions of the Bentley Collection in 2012. Here are the listings for these two coins, as described by Stephen Hill, the Director of British Coins at A.H. Baldwin & Sons and the author of the Bentley Collection catalogue:
Victoria, Gold Sovereign, 1859, “Ansell” second larger young head left, with extra line depicted on lower fillet of hair, indicating struck from Australian “brittle” gold, WW incuse on truncation without stops, date below, complete 5, small bulb type 9, die flaw from neck to field to left of date, another long flaw from top rim over head vertical to cheek, unbarred last A in legend, rev crowned quartered shield of arms within laurel wreath, emblems below, 7.99g (Marsh 42A R4; MCE 520; S 3852E). Good extremely fine and the finest Ansell Sovereign known to the Cataloguer.
ex Dr. David Aboav collection of Sovereigns and Half-Sovereigns, Spink Auction 147, 5 October 2000, lot 376
ex “A Collection of Sovereigns”, Mark Rasmussen, List No.3 supplement, Autumn 2002, 7 November 2002
In 1859, [a] quantity of coin from the regular mintage was found to be of inferior “brittle” quality and, on melting, was found to have been annealed with quantities of antimony, arsenic and lead. Mr. George Frederick Ansell, who was employed in the Rolling Room at the mint and had a scientific background, was given permission to experiment with this inferior batch of sovereigns. He was successful in adjusting the alloy mix to reproduce them in a much stronger form which resulted in the whole quantity being re-coined and denoted with the extra line in the hair fillet. Today they are very rare indeed, especially in the high grade offered here.
From Baldwin’s Auction #76, The Bentley Collection, 27 September 2012, Lot 427.
Victoria, Gold Sovereign, 1863, numbers 827 in relief on truncation meets field, second larger young head left, date below, sharper more hooked incomplete 6, rev crowned quartered shield of arms within laurel wreath tied with bow below shield, die number 22 in relief below, the second 2 weaker than first, emblems below, 7.99g (Marsh 48A R5; MCE 524; S 3853A). Light surface marks and hairlines, extremely fine, reverse better, extremely rare.
ex Spink and Son Ltd, May 2001
This intriguing variety first came to light in 1954 when an 827 numbered truncation with die number 22 reverse turned up in the Hatton Hoard of gold found in Derbyshire. This initial coin ended up in the British Museum Collection.
This variety is termed the “second” variety of the “827” Sovereign coupled with the die number 22 reverse. The “first” non-die number variety will be offered for sale in part three next year. These are called the second variety as it is thought that this die numbered “827” Sovereign was produced and struck from a second batch of re-melted “scissel” and scrap emanating from the Rothschild brittle ingots delivered to the Mint around November to December 1863. Of the very few specimens known, the Bentley specimen is one of the finest extant.
For further reading about the 827 Sovereigns see Spink Numismatic Circular, October 1977, p.421, article by G P Dyer.
From Baldwin’s Auction #73, The Bentley Collection, 8 May 2012, Lot 106.
Despite these significant omissions, the Extremely Fine or better examples of all years in the collection’s scope, with only a few variants unrepresented, led to 2012’s award.
The Young Victoria Collection in its entirety can be seen here.