Back in May, Spink were pleased to hold a special e-auction to mark the crowning of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. It provided a valuable opportunity to bid for several medals and other royal memorabilia from across four centuries. Here we shine a light on just a few of the highlights from the sale. Official coronation medals were first struck for distribution in 1603 during the service of James I’s coronation. He had been summoned as heir once Elizabeth I died and as such unified the nations of England and Scotland in one kingship, also known as the ‘Union of the Crowns.’ This very fine example (Lot 1) clearly depicts his costume, as well as the obverse legend that heralds him ‘Caesar Augustus of Britain. Caesar the heir of the Caesars.’ This was the closest he could get to naming himself the King of Britain, which would not have been possible without Parliamentary assent.

The striking of coronation medals was not the only ‘first’ that took place on the day of crowning for James I and his Queen Consort, Anne of Denmark. He was also the first Scottish king to be crowned sitting on the Stone of Scone for over three hundred years, and his ceremony was the first to be conducted in English, rather than Latin. In circumstances remarkably reminiscent of our own times, the actual events of the day were slimmed down due to rising numbers of plague infections. A standard account of the day may have one believe that the coronation was unduly delayed and poorly attended while the rain poured outside. But many described how packed the route of the procession was, and the celebratory mood that swept the nation as the two ‘auld enemies’ of Scotland and England were brought together.

One of the best performing lots of the auction was the 1702 Official Silver Accession medal for Queen Anne (Lot 6). The Queen is presented elegantly crowned, her hair vivaciously ornate, whilst on the reverse a crowned heart is flanked by twirling branches of oak. Such a motif relays a message of longevity, strength and honesty in a much less conspicuous way than Anne’s predecessors, and it helps to identify her as a monarch of integrity who held a deep love for her country. Indeed, she was immediately popular. It is said that Anne had a soft, sweet speaking voice and made a good impression, even though she had various physical infirmities, such as gout, that restricted her movement. It is arguably the finest of the assorted designs struck for this occasion.

George IV was made Prince Regent in 1811, and for ten years ruled on behalf of the King, who was overcome with mental health issues. Finally, in 1820 George got the chance to take the reins, ‘Now in his own right’ as the legend reads. The last Georgian king wished to reinstate his position through the staging of his coronation, stating that he wished for it to be more extravagant than that of Napoleon. Indeed, the occasion has become infamous for its lavishness and excessive nature, and remains the most expensive coronation in British history.

And finally, we come to a lot of six medals celebrating the House of Windsor from Edward VII to the late Queen. The group made over twice its high estimate and perhaps even formed the beginnings of a personal collection. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II occurring nearly a year ago, the medals came together to depict the legacy of the Windsor line, and the path that led our new King to the throne this year. Whether coronation medals were thrown among the crowds and scrambled for, or distributed more formally, to own one has most certainly been long desired. They inform us about the ways that the monarchs of Britain have wanted to conduct themselves during their reign, some becoming even more emotive when the results of their years are compared to their hopes. This auction proved a successful celebration for the new King – who recently revealed his own coronation medal, set to be given to front-line emergency service workers and members of the armed forces.

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