Feb 052013

Richard III

There was fiercely-contested auction last December for a gold coin found near the site of the Battle of Bosworth, Leicestershire. At £36,000 ($54,000), the final bid was way above the pre-sale estimate of £12 – £15,000 for the rare find dating from 1484.

How good must the owner feel today with news that a skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of Richard III, the English king for whom the coin was struck?

The much-maligned monarch, whose reputation is being pondered by historians, was killed at Bosworth on 22 August 1485 while fighting Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII.  (Read more at SMH: Gasps as archaeologists reveal brutal death of Richard III.)

Image courtesy Spink.

The coin is known as an angel because of its reverse depiction of St Michael, who is seen spearing a dragon. The obverse shows a ship on the waves with a crucifix above a shield. Worth 6 shillings and 8 pence at the time of issue, it was made at the Tower Mint in London.

In pristine condition, it seems almost certain that the coin was lost during the famous battle that settled The Wars of the Roses.

Often cited as one of the key reasons for starting a collection, coins can offer glimpses into history and provide a better understanding of the past. What a fantastic example this amazing story provides.



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