Updated: Dec 30, 2021
This is the first time in history that a British coin has sold for £1 million. This is testimony to the historical significance and rarity of the Edward VIII Sovereign.
So why did this coin sell for such a high price? The coin is one of only six trial coins created following Edward VIII’s ascension to the throne in January 1936. The coins were never actually mass produced as, after ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson.
The six trial coins were hidden from public view for decades. Edward, who became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating the throne, requested a set of coins but was refused by his brother, George VI. Now, four of the set are with museums and institutions including The Royal Mint Experience where one is on permanent display to the public, and two are in private hands. The latest owner, a sovereign collector who wished to remain anonymous, said: "When the opportunity came along, I felt I could not turn it down. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm aware that £1m is a lot of money for a coin, but if I did not secure it now, I'd not get the chance again."
Back into history
The Royal Mint expanded into the historic coin market and its team of experts were able to locate the rare Edward VIII Sovereign from a collector in America, and bring it back to the UK for a private buyer – setting a new record for the sale of a British coin at £1 million.
Rebecca Morgan, Head of Collector Services for The Royal Mint, said: “The Edward VIII Sovereign is one of the rarest and most collectable coins in the world, so it’s no surprise that it has set a new record for British coinage. We were delighted to be able to locate such a special coin for our customer, and bring it back to the UK to make history once more."
Matt Curtis, Royal Mint Collector Services, added: “The Edward VIII Sovereign is part of numismatic legend – belonging to a series of coins that were never meant to exist, and were hidden from the public for decades. This Sovereign is significant not only because of its rarity, but because it sits at the heart of an international story and has been treasured by collectors in both the UK and US."
The coin was last sold for a then-record £516,000 to a US collector in 2014, revealing its status on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering the coins sale price has almost doubled within just 5 years, what does this say for it's value in future?
Breaking the rules
What fascinates collectors and historians is not only the coins rarity, but also that Edward VIII was willing to break a pattern that went back centuries, all the way back to Charles II.
This saw each monarch face the opposite direction to their predecessor. Edward preferred his left profile, partly owing to his hair parting, and insisted on the portrait facing, in effect, the wrong way.