Rare British Pattern Coins Make Waves at Recent Auctions

Published January 31, 2024 | 2 min read

By Louis Golino

Two of the greatest rarities of British coinage sold for a combined total of $1.62 million.

This Petition crown sold for nearly $1 million. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Petition Crown

The first is an example of the legendary Petition crown. This extremely rare 1663 silver pattern is considered the finest example of the engraving genius, Thomas Simon (1618-65). He was one of the most admired medallic artists of the 17th century.

The third-finest example known of the crown, graded Mint State-62 by Numismatic Guaranty Company, sold for $960,000 during Heritage Auctions’ January 8 New York City sale. Fewer than 20 such coins still exist. Seven of them are in museums and public institutions.  

This amazing piece of British numismatic history is a testament to Simon’s remarkable craftsmanship. It was issued during a period of great turbulence in England. At the time, monarchy and Parliamentary loyalists engaged in three civil wars. Simon sided with the latter and became chief engraver in 1649 after Charles I’s execution.

Simon created this pattern with raised-edge lettering, in which he famously petitioned Charles II to be chosen as the engraver for the new dies. But his bid was unsuccessful. Simon had to share his duties with engravers from a family that had supported the king during his exile in Holland.

The obverse features Simon’s portrait of King Charles II with flowing hair and laurel leaves. The reverse has a quartered arms design with heraldic motifs, including the shields of England, Ireland, Scotland, and France, with the Order of the Garter in the middle. 

In 2023 the Royal Mint issued modern tributes to Simon’s Petition crown. Engraving experts said at the time that even with the advanced technology used back then, it was extremely difficult to recreate what Simon did in the 17th century with raised-edge lettering.

Weighing over 15 pounds, this coin celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee sold for $200,000 over its spot gold price. (Photos: Stack’s Bowers Galleries)

Colossal Platinum Jubilee Coin

The other recently sold coin is a unique 7,000-British pound gold masterpiece. The Royal Mint issued the behemoth in 2022 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. This momentous occasion marked 70 years since she ascended to the throne. The monarch passed in September 2022. It sold ungraded in a January 12 Stack’s Bowers auction in New York for $660,000.

This very large gold coin has a diameter of 185mm. With a .999-fine gold weight of 7 kilos (15.43 pounds), its current spot gold value is about $460,000—$200,000 less than the piece sold for.

Rather than being struck on a coin press between two dies, this ginormous coin was made from a solid gold ingot weighing 9-10 kilos before the computer-controlled engraving machine added all the details. That process took between three- and four days per side and was followed by another two days of hand finishing to remove imperfections.

The obverse shows Queen Elizabeth II on horseback surrounded by the garter from the Royal Coast of Arms. British coinage artist John Bergdahl crafted the design. The reverse depicts Bergdahl’s royal cipher emblem.