Edward VI, 1550-1553, Silver Crown, 1551
S-2478, 30.65 grams, 43mm. Third period, fine silver issue. Mintmark Y (Southwark). King on horseback with date 1551 below horse, EDWARD:VI:D:G:AGL:FRANCI:Z:HIBER:REX, reverse: shield on cross, :POSVI:DEVM:ADIVTOR:E:MEV:. The first dated English coin! Fine-silver issue of 1551-53. Most examples seen of this type are dated 1553, and even they are now rare above Fine condition. But a 1551 in this condition is a coin almost never encountered. The great Slaney Collection had one, sharper than this, but it sold in 2003 for 42,000 Pounds (about $76,000 at the time). The present specimen is particularly well struck showing sharpness in the important features of the design, modest wear, none of the double-striking usually associated with this crown type, and it's also on a lovely, large, round flan. A couple of miniscule rim cracks are visible from striking.
King Edward was only 14 when this coin was minted, son of Henry VIII by Jane Seymour, in fact Henry's only son. Henry's obsessive desire for a male heir of course caused the great schism between the Catholic Church and himself, leading to the establishment of the Church of England. Edward's health had been fragile since birth, and the unfortunate lad died of tuberculosis in July 1553. He had no time to make a mark on his world, except perhaps numismatically, for his coins are classic works of Renaissance art, and this, his silver crown, became the very first in a long line of beautifully engraved, emblematic, large silver issues of England and later of Great Britain. We are giving a wide but very modest estimate considering the whopping price achieved nine years ago for the Slaney specimen. This coin is not in the same league with the Slaney piece but it is nonetheless one of the best pieces to be offered in some years.