Scotland James VI 1576 gold Twenty-Pounds

Scotland James VI 1576 gold Twenty-Pounds

James VI (1567-1625), gold Twenty Pounds, 1576, period of second coinage, crowned armoured bust of King right, holding long sword resting on shoulder, holding palm branch, three line Latin inscription in panel below, IN. VTRVNQVE / .PARATVS. / .1576. Latin legend and outer beaded border surrounding, .IACOBVS. 6. DEI. GRA. REX. SCOTOR, rev. crowned Scottish shield of arms, Latin legend and outer beaded border surrounding, PARCERE SVBIECITIS. & DEBEILARE SVPERBOS, edge plain, weight 30.26g (Burns 1, fig.947; S.5451). Surface marks and striations in fields both sides perhaps from light sweating of the metal, otherwise good fine to almost very fine, extremely rare, representing the largest Scottish hammered gold coin denomination, pre-dating the English gold Triple Unites of his son and twenty times rarer; only seven examples of this date available to commerce.

The obverse legend translates as "James the Sixth, by the grace of God, King of the Scottish" and in the panel "Prepare for either" in respect of peace or war.

The reverse legend translates as "To spare the humbled and subdue the proud:" taken from Virgil's Aneid vi.854.

This denomination in fact exceeds the gold Triple Unite in weight and was only issued in 1575 and 1576 and is the largest hammered gold denomination for use in the British Isles. We know these coins were used from the scant surviving records of the time published by R W Cochran-Patrick in 1876 and summarised by Edward Burns in 1887. The surviving document dating to the 5th March 1576 between the Earl of Morton, Regent of the Kingdom for the boy King James VI; and John Achesoun Master Worker with Abraham Petersoun the Refiner, where such a coin is listed at one ounce weight with two grains remedy on weight and half a grain in the fineness of the gold which was to be between 22 and 22 ½ carats. Ten Pound and Five Pound pieces are also mentioned but it would seem these smaller denominations were never struck. We are left with the physical survival and artistic beauty of less than 15 examples across both dates of this the largest Scottish denomination. A wonderful piece of numismatic history even in slightly worn condition.


Ex Ashmoleon Museum duplicate.

Alderman Horace Hird, Glendining, 6th March 1974, lot 92 - sold for £14,000 hammer in 1974.

Dix Noonan and Webb, 28th September 2005, lot 1169.

Kroisos Collection, Stacks of New York, 14th January 2008, lot 3316.


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