Edward VIII sovereign becomes most expensive GB coin


09 April 2021
An Edward VIII Gold 5 Sovereign has sold for $2.28 million (approximately £1.66 million) breaking the record for a British coin sold at auction.

The extremely rare Edward VIII Pattern Gold 5 Sovereign was the top lot among 701 world and ancient rarities offered from the NGC-certified Paramount Collection, which has now realised a breathtaking $48,476,663 in two extraordinary sales by Heritage Auctions.

Watch the sale of the coin unfold in this video from Heritage…

Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions, said:

'The gold Edward VIII 5 Pound is one of the greatest prizes in British numismatics. Uncompromising in terms of its beauty and quality, this coin is one of less than a half dozen believed to be in private hands.'

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The previous record for the most expensive British coin sold at auction was for a William IV proof 5 Pounds from 1831, which sold in Monaco in October 2020 for a hammer price of €820,000.

Abdication created rarities

Despite extensive plans that were made for the production of coronation sets for distribution to collectors and important persons, Edward VIII's coinage was ultimately cut short by his decision to abdicate the throne.

Reports from 1935 to 1936 show that more than 200 dies for coins, medals and seals were prepared and then ultimately destroyed after Edward's decision.

'The coinage that was struck was confined to a series of special-purpose coins intended for collectors and dignitaries and the like, rather than issues for general use,' Bierrenbach said. 'To the best of our knowledge, not a single example of the Edward VIII 5 Pounds has come to auction in at least the past 20 years, if not longer.'

Not even the king could own the coin

A surviving letter exchanged between the Duke of Windsor and his brother, George VI, reveals that even Edward himself was denied his request to obtain a surviving coronation set for himself.

'It's fitting to state that this is the coin that even a king couldn't have,' Bierrenbach added.

Further reading: Coins of the three kings: George V, Edward VIII and George VI

Read our exploration of coins issued during the reigns of King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI.