Ultra-rare gold coin from King Edward VIII’s short-lived reign sells for £ 1.65 million world record

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Ultra-rare gold coin from King Edward VIII’s short-lived reign sells for a world record of £ 1.65 million

  • The coin with the bust of the disputed monarch was never put into circulation
  • The trial coin sparked a bidding war when it went under the hammer in Dallas
  • The previous record for the most expensive British coin sold was for a King William IV

A £ 5 coin commemorating the short-lived reign of King Edward VIII has been sold for a world record of £ 1.65 million ($ 2.28 million).

The gold coin with the bust of the controversial monarch on one side was minted but never put into circulation, as he abdicated after just 11 months.

It is one of only three five-pound Edward VIII coins known to exist, with the other two owned by the Royal Mint and a private collector in America.

The gold coin with the controversial monarch's bust on one side was minted but never put into circulation, as he abdicated after just 11 months.

The gold coin with the controversial monarch’s bust on one side was minted but never put into circulation, as he abdicated after just 11 months.

Edward VIII coins are so scarce that even the Duke of Windsor requested a set of his own, turned down by his brother

Edward VIII coins are so scarce that even the Duke of Windsor requested a set of his own, turned down by his brother

Edward VIII coins are so scarce that even the Duke of Windsor requested a set of his own, turned down by his brother

The proof coin, designed by Humphrey Paget, sparked a bidding war when it went under the hammer with Heritage Auctions of Dallas, USA.

It is the most expensive UK coin ever sold, overturning the £ 1 million private sale of an Edward VIII Pattern Sovereign coin (with a face value of £ 1) brokered by the Royal Mint in January 2020.

The previous record for the most expensive British coin sold at auction was for a five-pound King William IV certificate from 1831, which was sold in Monaco for £ 703,000 last October.

Edward VIII coins are so scarce that even the Duke of Windsor requested a set of his own, turned down by his brother.

King George VI believed that because the coins had never been issued and did not go through the royal proclamation process, they were not considered official.

The Royal Mint would begin production of Edward VIII coins on January 1, 1937.

Pattern coins were prepared before the monarch gave up the throne on December 11, 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

The 1.4 inch diameter obverse of the coin bears a left-facing bust of Edward, with St George on horseback slaying a dragon on its reverse.

The coin was controversial even before his abdication, as he chose to show his left side, breaking with the age-old tradition.

His father, George V, had also been captured from his left hand, so he was expected to be shown from his right as monarchs would alternate. However, he refused.

The 1.4 inch diameter obverse of the coin bears a left-facing bust of Edward, with St George on horseback slaying a dragon on its reverse

The 1.4 inch diameter obverse of the coin bears a left-facing bust of Edward, with St George on horseback slaying a dragon on its reverse

The 1.4 inch diameter obverse of the coin bears a left-facing bust of Edward, with St George on horseback slaying a dragon on its reverse

It is one of only three five pound Edward VIII coins known to exist, the other two belonging to the Royal Mint and a private collector in America.

It is one of only three five pound Edward VIII coins known to exist, the other two belonging to the Royal Mint and a private collector in America.

It is one of only three five pound Edward VIII coins known to exist, the other two belonging to the Royal Mint and a private collector in America.

The coin was put up for sale by an Asian collector who had owned the coin since about 2002. The earlier origin is unknown.

Cristiano Bierrenbach, executive vice president of international numismatics at Heritage, said: ‘Since the transfer of power from Oliver Cromwell to Charles II, the kings of England had adopted a style of alternating the direction of their busts with each change of monarch.

This coin broke with centuries of British numismatic tradition.

‘It is one of the biggest awards in British numismatics. Uncompromising in terms of beauty and quality, this coin is one of less than half a dozen believed to be privately owned.

A surviving letter exchanged between the Duke of Windsor and his brother, George VI, reveals that even Edward himself was denied his request to obtain a set (of Edward VIII coins) for himself.

This is the coin that even a ‘king’ could not have.

“The sale was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for bidders.”

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