With the fall of the Commonwealth and the restoration of the House of Stuart in 1660, one of the most important changes in English numismatics took place in 1663: the abandonment of hammered coinage, and the beginning of machine struck, or milled coins. A more decimalized system was introduced, with the “Guinea” coinage. Originally, the Guinea was valued at 20 Shillings, and 5, 2, 1, and ½ Guinea pieces were struck. The large 5 Guineas are among the most impressive gold coins issued during this period for use in circulation. These large gold coins are always actively sought by collectors, and the Thos. H. Law Collection has a wonderful selection of 18 examples, representing seven out of the eight rulers who issued 5 Guineas (the 5 Guinea of George III was a pattern only issue). Many of the pieces are graded AU or higher by NGC.
The name “Guinea” is derived from the fact that one major source of the bullion used in the striking of these coins was imported from Guinea by the Royal African Company. Coins struck from this source of gold bear the Elephant and Castle privy mark. This historical series also includes special “commemorative” issues, struck from gold captured during naval engagements against the Spanish Fleet. These display the words VIGO and LIMA below the portrait. While the VIGO coins are extremely rare (and an example is not included in the Law Collection) there are two LIMA 5 Guineas in the collection.
The Thos. H. Law Collection catalog is currently at the printer, and will be in the mail shortly. If you are not currently on our mailing list, contact us at 800-458-4646 to order a catalog. We are also looking forward to posting the sale on our website, www.stacksbowers.com this week. We look forward to seeing you at our lot viewing sessions and at the ANA sale.