During the reign of Henry VIII, a shilling or a 5p in modern money, was known as a Testoon and during the 1540’s this coin caused quite a scandal as following a secret order its silver content was gradually downgraded and replaced with copper as the Kings Treasury tried to raise much needed funds. This change undermined the principle at the time that the bullion value of the coin was broadly equivalent to its face value.
As the 1540’s went on the silver content of the coin continued to reduce and eventually became so thin that it rubbed off easily from prominent parts of the coin including the King’s nose showing the cheap copper underneath, leading rise to the King’s nickname, “Old Coppernose”. By the late 1540’s the Testoon was being withdrawn and melted down as silver coins were being re-introduced and although common at the time, good examples of the Testoon are hard to find today.
So when a good example turned up at Sheffield Auction Gallery’s Fine Coin Auction on July 26th it created quite a market response. Lot 904 was catalogued as; “A King Henry VIII Testoon, good, fine or better, with very good portrait” with a guide price of £2000 – £3000. However, after much intensive bidding the auctioneers hammer finally came down on a buyers premium inclusive £10,020, selling to a telephone bidder.
Setting a new house record for a medieval coin, Auctioneer John Morgan commented; “These top prices arise when rarity combines with condition and buyers nerves can be really tested, we are delighted with the auction result”.
Entries for the next Coins Auction on 6th December are currently invited.
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