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Lot 30125

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30125
Date 1648
Country Great Britain
Service Catalog # 125192
Denomination 1s
Description Charles I Pontefract Besieged Shilling 1648, S-3151, North-2649 (as rare), VF35 NGC. The seldom seen siege coin minted after the death of Charles I (on January 30, 1649) and bearing the name of Charles II. Struck on an eight-sided flan cut from silver plate, this coin evidences wear in the centers as well as a typical, imperfect strike. However, the surfaces are little marked and the border is consistently broad. The toning is a multi-hued silvery gold, and the important legends are evenly sharp for the amount of use this coin experienced. The present coin is so rare that it is not illustrated in either the SCBC or North, and only a few pieces of this variety have appeared at auction in recent times. The medieval castle at Pontefract, in West Yorkshire, was key to the royalist hold of the region. It was besieged twice, first just before Christmas 1644, enduring bombardment; during the short periods lacking warfare the castle still lacked access to normal supplies. It was surrendered in July 1645, only to be attacked again in the early summer of 1648 during the second segment of the Civil War. The royalist army refused to surrender even after the king was captured, tried, and executed, declaring the city to be the property of the king's son and employing the city's motto, "Post mortem patris pro filio", in support of the monarchy. After a continual siege of nine months, the city and castle were surrendered to Oliver Cromwell himself. Because the castle had long been poorly maintained and was difficult to defend, Parliament ordered it demolished before the year ended. J.J. North comments that the "main issue of Pontefract consists of shillings, which have a representation of the castle gateway as reverse type. As the siege continued after the death of Charles I, some of these bear the name of his son Charles II, with the inscription POST MORTEM PATRIS PRO FILIO (After the death of his father, for the son)." On the other side appears the Latin slogan HANC DEVS DEDIT ("God has given this") and the date (very clear) below, yet another indication of the monarchy's ancient claim to rule as its divine right. C.E. Challis illuminates the rarity of these late Civil War issues thus: "Apart from their numismatic interest, which they share with the siege-pieces struck in the beleaguered royalist fortresses at Carlisle, Newark, Pontefract and Scarborough, all the royalist provincial coinages of the civil war have one thing in common, fewness of numbers. For all his access to the silver from Wales and the plate of colleges, aristocrats and the like, Charles I never achieved a bullion supply in any way commensurate with that of Parliament. In all probability the output of all his mints during the entire conflict was no more in total than two or three average month's output at the Tower between 1642 and 1645." Most siege coins in fact are wretched in quality; many are bent, holed or defaced. This historic coin, struck within Pontefract castle during a fleeting horrific moment in time, is undamaged and is truly more elusive, in the absolute sense, than many better known rarities. This lot offers a special opportunity for the scholarly numismatist. Realized $10,575.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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