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DM11803

Elizabeth I fine gold Sovereign Sixth issue initial mark escallop

Elizabeth I (1558-1603), fine gold Sovereign of Thirty Shillings, sixth issue (1583-1600), full facing robed figure of Queen seated on large throne, lis headed pillar either side, throne back of pellets in hatching, four pellets up each side of throne back, portcullis below Queen, tressure and beaded border surrounding, legend and outer beaded border on both sides, initial mark escallop (1584-86), +ELIZABETH: D; G; ANG; FRA; ET HIB; REGINA: :, rev. quartered shield at centre of ornate rose, beaded circle and legend surrounding, A. DNO; FACTV; EST. ISTVD. ET. EST. MIRAB; OCVLIS. NRS, weight 15.13g (Schneider 780; N.2003; S.2529). A decent full round well-struck coin with a red tinged tone, some very light surface marks and a hint of weakness in parts both sides, otherwise good very fine, rare this well preserved.

The fine gold Sovereign of Elizabeth I was a highly respected coin at the time of issue and revered in the acting world contemporary with William Shakespeare, as the coin of choice to be honoured with should the Queen attend a performance personally. Traditionally the Queen would honour the playwright and the star of the show with her favour reflected in the presenting of a fine gold Sovereign. We have such evidence of this in the will of the Gentleman Actor Augustine Phillips of Mortlake Surrey who was one of the first to rise to such a social status in his profession. From his will dated 13th May 1605 we can see fine gold Sovereign presented described thus "I give and bequeath to my fellow William Shakespeare a XXXs piece in gould, To my fellow Henry Condell one other xxxs piece in gould." Such a coin of honour being highly revered and not to be spent in the lifetime of the recipient.

The mint mark escallop was used from 1st February 1584/5 till 31st January 1586/7, and represents the largest issue of fine gold in this reign which would have included Angels and their fractions. A total of £56,562 worth of fine gold was produced over the two years, year one with £33,481 worth and the following year with the balance of £20,451. The Escallop mint mark Sovereign has understandably the largest surviving population of examples extant today but the survival is still a fractional percentage of what would have been originally produced.

Provenance:
Ex Spink Coin Auction, 5th March 1996, lot 49.

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