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JM33373

James II gold Touchpiece, most likely once handled by the King NGC VG10

Regular price £1,250
Regular price Sale price £1,250

James II (1685-88),officially pierced Gold Touchpiece, three masted ship in full sail left with hatched rigging, legend reads IACO.II.D.G.M.B.FR.ET.HI.REX,rev. St Michael standing upright slaying the dragon with cross tipped spear, SOLI.DEO GLORIA, no stop at end of legend, weight 2.10g (MI 611/19; Woolf O1/R2; Noon 313-17).Worn from admiration and pierced fine, once handled by the King in gift to sufferers of Scrofula, a fetching ecclesiastical coin, graded by NGC as VG10 and very rare.

NGC Certification 4913159-013.

The abbreviated Latin legends translate as on obverse "James the Second, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland," and on the reverse "Glory to God alone."

The so called "Kings Evil" or Morbus Regius also known as the disease scrofula was what the Royal touch from the monarch was purported to be able to cure. Since the time of King Edward the Confessor (later canonised) a belief in prayer coupled with the Royal touch could incur a miraculous recovery and it became usual to give money as alms to the afflicted, in the Middle Ages a Penny as a day's wages for a labourer. Later in the medieval period the gold Angel coin became prominent as the "doctors" coin as the 6s and 8d face value was the standard fee of a medical doctor at the time. The reverse legend of Angel coins was revered as a healing inscription coupled with St. Michael slaying the devil as a dragon. As the monarch was seen to have a divine right to Kingship and was related to the now Sainted King, the coin became effectively a healing amulet especially if the monarch had once touched it. The passing of a Touch-Piece therefore became more commonplace under the Stuart reigns of James I and Charles I, and at these times of plague and other disease it was sensible for the King to pass such Angel coins, rather than to touch those physically ailed, a social distance being maintained by the gift of coin. The recipient who may have cured from their ill would covet such a coin and wear it against their skin probably for the rest of their life, and this is why such coins are often holed. By the time of the later Stuart reigns of Charles II and James II the Angel coin was no longer in production as machinery had become the new norm at the Mint. A need to still touch for the Kings evil meant production of these special pieces as we have for sale herewith prevailed and there was even a gap left in the legend where the piercing would occur. The reverse depicts the warship "The Sovereign of the Seas" launched in October 1637 and in service until it was burned by fire in Chatham docks in 1697.

For the reign of James II (1685-88) he first touched on March 4th1685 when he started to use up the stock of gold pieces in the name of Charles II which numbered some 1,905 pieces. The first pieces delivered similar to the coin herewith arrived for use on 11thApril 1685, and James was very prolific in his Touching seeing as many as 14,364 in the year 7th January-23rdDecember 1687. For the amount of gold Touch-Pieces required there were four obverse and three reverse dies utilised and James was spending £3,000 a year on their production to give away to the afflicted. Noel Woolf in his "The Sovereign Remedy" publication upon the subject estimates some 36,000 pieces were used in his reign.

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