Charles I, 1625-1649, Gold Triple Unite, 1643
KM-256.2, S-2727, 26.64 grams, 46mm. Oxford mintmark, (plume - on obverse only). Provincial and Civil War issue, artistic crowned half-length bust of king left in armor, without scarf, holding sword, and with longer branch, plume behind, CAROLVS.D:G.MAGN:BRIT:FRAN:ET HIB:REX:, reverse: declaration RELIG:PROT:LEG:ANG LIBER:PAR in three lines on scroll, value (III) and three plumes above, date 1643 below, DEVS:DISSIPETVR:INIMICI:EXVRGAT:.
Crisply defined in most portions of both sides, with an excellent portrait of the king. This is a desirable mid-grade example of a coin which had a value of 60 shillings. Variety without scarf flowing from the monarch's neck, but with a longer olive branch draped over his shoulder. The largest gold coin ever struck in England, made inside the old castle at Oxford. These are products, really, of and for the king's use during the Civil War, and half a dozen varieties exist of the pieces minted from 1642-44 (although the mint, itself, continued to function until 1646). Generally speaking, the king's portrait on these coins is perhaps more life-like, and elegant, than on any of his other currency coins.
The coin is rife with symbolism, from the sword held out in defiance by the king, to the wavy banner of the reverse side, on which is scrolled the famous Latin abbreviation of "declaration," which admitted the powers of "the religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, and the liberty of Parliament" (as it translates) but nonetheless insisted, by its very existence, on the sovereignty of the king. This was an era of great impending change, when people all over Europe spoke through their landlords in objection to kings' divine right to rule. But Charles I seemed oblivious of this coming wave, going so far as to place a statement of his divine right on the reverses of many of his coins in the Latin legend "CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO" -- literally, "I rule with Christ's approval." When he pinched his subjects with one tax too many, trouble began. His declaration, engraved on the reverse of this massive gold piece, was the essence of his objection to Parliament's interference in his divine right, "declared" to the Privy Council on September 19, 1642, at Wellington. It prodded Oliver Cromwell to chase Charles and his army from city to city, and made Charles literally a king with an army, but without a kingdom, until he fortified himself inside the walls of medieval Oxford. Eventually starved into surrendering, he met his fate in 1649, as everyone knows. When the Commonwealth played out its short part in history, and the king's son returned from exile in 1660, as Charles II, the sovereigns of England would never again enjoy the powers they traditionally held. None would ever really "go to war" again as kings had done for centuries; instead they became titular heads of state, rubber-stamping the laws created by Parliament. This coin is a marvelous example--gleaming with antique reddish-golden color gained over centuries of careful storage, and possessing an excellent portrait of King Charles I, and particularly pleasing surfaces--of this famous transition of power, and a true work of Renaissance art as well. Has been pierced and plugged, and the mint-mark expertly re-tooled, otherwise generally better than fine, very rare.