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BI01095

Victoria 1859 Ansell Sovereign

Victoria (1837-1901), gold Sovereign, 1859, Ansell type with extra raised line in hair fillet of young head facing left, date below, WW incuse on truncation for engraver William Wyon, Latin legend and toothed border surrounding, VICTORIA DEI GRATIA, rev. crowned quartered shield of arms within laurel wreath, emblems below, Latin legend and toothed border surrounding, BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF: edge milled, weight 7.94g (Bentley 426; Marsh 42A R4; MCE 520; S.3852E). Toned, good fine / almost very fine and rare.

The Ansell variety Sovereigns represent the successful culmination of the experiments of Mr George Frederick Ansell (1826-80) who worked as a chemist in the "Rolling Room" at the Mint in this period. A consignment of gold mined in Australia when annealed ready for minting proved to be too brittle for use for coining and Mr Ansell was given permission to experiment with it to strengthen it for use. When melted down the brittle Sovereigns were found to contain the wrong quantities of alloy of arsenic, antimony and lead. Mr Ansell successfully altered the alloys and subsequently 167,539 Sovereigns were struck from this consignment of gold all denoted with the extra raised line on the fillet perhaps to see how they would then fare in circulation. Despite the success of this coinage, Mr Ansell eventually lost his job in the Mint circa 1867 due to internal quarrel, and then worked as an analyst. He paid particular attention to the Mining industry and patented a "firedamp indicator" as well as continuing to write articles on coining. Ansell is recorded on the 1871 Census as an Analytical Chemist, married to Sarah with three sons and two servants at 27 Bernard Street, London. Ansell died at age 54 around Christmas time 1880.

The Latin legends on this coin translate as "Victoria by the grace of God" and on the reverse "Queen of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith."

Provenance:

Ex Spink Coin Auction, 28th September 2005, lot 1448.

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