1787 Silver Proof Shilling George III S#3743 PCGS PR64
Obverse: Laureate bust of King George III to right, legend around.
Reverse: Shields and crowns within legend.
A superb example of this incredibly rare 18th-century proof coin.
King George III was on the British throne for 60 years, between 1760 and 1820, but only in the last five years of his reign did the British people have enough coins in circulation to go about their daily business with ease. At one point in 1787, the price of silver declined slightly, and the Bank of England ordered œ55,280 worth of new coins (shillings and sixpences) from the mint.
The Bank chose to distribute the coins to its customers in small quantities at Christmas, a plan that was executed reluctantly and with delay. Because the price of silver regained ground (a modern commodities trader might say that the market went against them), the coins were struck at a loss, and "being considerably heavier than the worn-out coins of previous issues, [they] were melted as quickly as they were put into circulation".
Dr Bill Mira notes that "There is no record of any shipment of this coin[the 1787 shilling]to the colony, so one must assume that it arrived in the pockets of convicts, settlers etc. or passed in trade from the private cargoes that touched Port Jackson."
Although the shilling was regularly mentioned in the pages of the Sydney Gazette between 1803 and 1811, it was solely referred to as a unit of account.
We can be assured that there was nigh zero chance of a proof 1787 shilling being dispatched to NSW in the colonial era, however, there is no doubt at all they were highly prized by collectors and those with strong connections at the highest levels of the Bank of England at that time. A detailed paper published in the British Numismatic Society Journal in 2004, written by Henry Manville PP Gaspar provides some detail on the background to the proof coins struck by the Royal Mint in 1787.
"Chief Engraver Pingo ... was authorized to strike 168 sets for officers of the Bank and the Mint... the September proofs are the last to be struck..."
Although there several design varieties seen within the 1787 shilling were struck for circulation, Manville and Gaspar's paper advises that the only proof 1787 shilling seen without the semee of hearts is within the British Museum collection.
PCGS have graded just 9 proof examples of this coin to date - only 2 of those are in superior quality to this coin.
It retains superb, mirrored surfaces either side and is a wonderful representation of the wealth and influence of the Bank of England in the late 18th century.
One wonders just who the coin was presented to originally!
Click the PCGS icon below to verify the certificate details for this coin directly on the PCGS website.
PCGS Certificate Number: 13724581
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