Among the most famous world gold type coins issued in the modern era is a numismatic masterpiece engraved by the talented hand of William Wyon -- the pattern “Una and the Lion” Five Pounds. His young head portrait of Queen Victoria faces left, her hair tied back in a bun with her titles in Latin around. The intricately designed reverse depicts the young Queen as the mythical Una, the daughter of a knight, who, while walking alone in the woods was about to be attacked by a ravenous lion. As the lion approached and saw her beauty, his mood changed, and rather than devour Una, the lion became her companion. The lion, long a symbol of Britain, is shown being led by Victoria, who carries her royal scepter and orb. The high relief engraving is medallic in quality, a testament to Wyon’s talent as chief engraver at the Royal Mint. Wyon’s talents are well known throughout numismatics, but the Una and the Lion Five Pounds is his “piece de resistance.” It is listed as Seaby-3851; Friedberg-386; KM-742; Wilson & Rasmussen 278 (R-4, 11-20 known). There are several varieties listed by W&R, and the coin offered is distinguished by the number of scrolls and leaves in Victoria’s fillet and edge lettering, DECUS ET TUTAMEN * ANNO REGNI TERTIO* with rose stops.
A highlight of any collection that contains an example, the Una and the Lion Five Pound was struck with a small but unknown mintage, reported to be around 400 pieces. Many of these must have been lost over the years, as even the most “common” variety is called Very Rare by Wilson and Rasmussen. The beauty of the design, coupled with its scarcity, has created very strong demand from collectors for this type. The example from the Law Collection is a beautiful Proof-62 Ultra Cameo, graded by NGC. Light handling can be found in the fields, as usually seen on this type, accounts for the assigned grade level. Mr. Law purchased this coin at the 1981 ANA Convention privately from “Duggan” for $25,000. Recent auction records for this type show an increased demand, with an uncertified example selling for $90,000 plus buyer’s fee in a recent auction.
Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio is pleased to offer this highlight of the Thos. H. Law Collection to the current generation of collectors. We anticipate strong bidder participation when this coin crosses the auction block.