Uncirculated 1937 British pound fetches $2.28M


Sometimes it’s not the accomplishment but rather what wasn’t that makes something incredibly valuable. Such is the case of a 1937 Edward VIII 5 Pound gold coin that sold for a staggering $2,280,000 recently, becoming the most expensive British coin.

The coin, which sold at auction through Heritage Auctions on Friday, March 26, was part of an offering of rare world coins. The coin was one of 701 lots from The Paramount Collection, which commanded a collective $41.94M by the time the gavel fell for the final time. A few factors make the featured coin a fascinating specimen of currency, but most significantly is the fact that the coin was struck but never released because Edward VIII opted to abdicate the throne to marry a commoner.

According to a press release issued by Heritage Auctions, despite extensive plans that were made for the production of coronation sets for distribution to collectors and important persons, Edward VIII’s coinage was ultimately cut short by his decision to abdicate the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a commoner and yet the woman he loved, after just 10-1/2 months of rule.

See the coin for yourself….

Reports from 1935 to 1936 show that more than 200 dies for coins, medals, and seals were prepared and destroyed after Edward’s fateful decision. Edward was no stranger to taking steps that flew in the face of what was conceived at the time as “conventional.” His dress and mannerisms were considered “simple” and “frank,” much to the delight of the common people and in opposition to what could have been called kingly or royal.

“The coinage that was struck was confined to a series of special-purpose coins intended for collectors and dignitaries and the like, rather than issues for general use,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “To the best of our knowledge, not a single example of the Edward VIII 5 Pounds has come to auction in at least the past 20 years, if not longer.”

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 surviving coronation set for himself.

“It’s fitting to state that this is the coin that even a ‘king’ couldn’t have,” Bierrenbach said.

The coin was sold as part of The Paramount Collection, a grouping of more than 700 world coins widely considered the finest ever offered at auction in at least a generation.

For more information about upcoming coin auctions at Heritage Auctions, visit www.ha.com.

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