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Return to HENRY VIII

Henry VIII, third coinage, Silver
Testoon [Shilling, 12d.]
Henry VIII, third coinage, 7.67g., Tower, m.m. lis, group A, bust 1, crowned bearded bust of king facing, with prominent sidelocks, wearing mantle with collar of fur, henric viii di gra agl fra z hib rex, rev., large crowned rose, crowned h r at sides, posvi devm adivtorivm mevm, lombardic lettering, Roman m, saltire/double saltire stops, two double saltires after mevm (Jacob O.1/R.1 ; N.1841; S.2364), a beautiful specimen, on an exceptionally full round flan, the detail fully clear and struck up, extremely fine, excessively rare in this condition 
provenance: S Tyssen, Sotheby, 12 April 1802, lot 1707 (2 in lot) Lieut. Col. W Durrant, Sotheby, 19 April 1847, lot 379 Rev. E J Shepherd, Sotheby, 22 July 1885, lot 218 £32-10-0 ('a remarkably fine specimen of this scarce piece') S Rostron, Sotheby, 16 May 1892, lot 119 £35-0-0 ('in matchless condition, and of great rarity in this state, said to be the finest known') J G Murdoch, Sotheby, 31 March 1903, lot 443 £40-10-0 Spink Numismatic Circular, July 1942, no.15406 £45-0-0 The first testoons of Henry VIII, the 9 oz fine issue reading henric VIII, are struck in finer metal but in lower relief than the subsequent issues. They are rare in absolute terms and extremely so in a high state of preservation. This example has long been regarded as unrivaled. It may be compared with the Shuttlewood example (Spink Auction 151, lot 155, from the same obverse die also from the Murdoch sale (lot 444 £12-0-0)), itself one of the finest known. In his annotated copy of the splendid 1892 Rostron catalogue J S Henderson notes against lots 119 & 120 (a base silver 'Holbein portrait' testoon which realised £11-0-0) 'These shillings are quite matchless as to condition in any collection; 119 was bought for Mr Murdoch; 120 for me; they are both now in my possession' J.S.H. Henderson bequeathed his collection to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in 1933 but while the acquisition catalogue lists Rostron lot 120 does not include Rostron lot 119. If Henderson purchased this coin at the Murdoch sale but subsequently parted with it, it would explain most of the long gap in the provenance between 1903 and the Spink Numismatic Circular listing in 1942.

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