Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 46

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Lot 470

Great Britain. Sovereign, 1917. S-3996; Fr-404b; KM-820. George V, 1911-1936. Bare head left. Reverse: St George and the Dragon; date below. Generally well struck, having a very bright luster, with only tiny abrasions or contact marks. The toning adds a lovely red-gold color to the metal. Extremely rare! Catalogues in Spink's reference for £4,750 in EF grade and is unpriced in Mint State. The finest known? Quite likely. An important coin. NGC graded MS-63.

Britain went off the gold standard during World War One, and it meant that almost all of the 1917 sovereigns minted in London went right back into the melting pot, creating a major rarity. The London mint did not resume production of sovereigns until 1925, while the branch mints, especially those farthest removed from the European conflict, continued coining throughout the war years and beyond. This uninterrupted employment of gold coin as a circulating, commercial currency suggests a substantial degree of financial stability, yet the death knell for the Gold Standard had begun. Paper money issued by the Treasury during the First World War replaced gold for internal use within Britain after 1915. Its convenience of use was apparent over gold but many consumers and banks abroad preferred the real metal over the paper promise: the famous scene in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" comes to mind, in which the Arab chieftain Auda Abu Tayi is promised a golden payment by Lawrence when they overcome Acaba, but discovers only chests full of currency, which he throws in havoc into the air, screaming "Paper, paper! --whereupon Lawrence promises him five thousand golden guineas (meaning of course sovereigns). The monetary crises caused by the Great War in Europe and in Arabia led to the cessation of gold minting by many of the adversaries during the war years, with the resumption of production not occurring for many until well into the 1920s. For some it ceased altogether. With the deepening of the worldwide Great Depression in the 1930s, gold coins disappeared as an everyday medium of exchange throughout most countries of the world. This marvelous 1917 sovereign was the very thing so wanted by Auda, but it would soon vanish like sandhills in a desert storm, and so would the world it financed.
Estimated Value $7,000 - 8,000.
Ex Dr Jacob Y. Terner Collection.

Realized $10,925

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