Impressive Gold 5 Guineas of James II of England

The time has come to begin looking forward to our Stack’s Bowers November Baltimore auction, and the terrific world and ancient coins that we will feature there. Today’s coin is a large sized gold piece from the last Roman Catholic monarch of England, James II. After succeeding his brother Charles II to the throne, James II struggled against the English Parliament for the entirety of his four-year rule. Parliament wished to curb the absolutist tendencies of James II and they also opposed his attempts at creating religious liberty for Catholics in England, which they feared would infringe on their “traditional English liberties.” Parliament also distrusted James II’s close ties with France. When James II produced a Catholic heir, the tension peaked and English nobles petitioned his Protestant son-in-law and nephew, William of Orange and his wife, Mary. Thus began the Glorious Revolution, which led to the abdication of James II, the ascension of William and Mary and the solidification of Protestant supremacy in England. More importantly, the revolution led to the Bill of Rights of 1689. This significant political document solidified Protestant political supremacy but more importantly it prevented absolute monarchism and secured individual liberties. It stands as a cornerstone of the uncodified British constitution, and would inspire the U.S. Bill of Rights.

James II’s stately left facing laureate bust comprises the majority of the obverse design, with his regnal titles around: “IACOBVS II DEI GRATIA.” The intricate reverse design features crowned cruciform shields featuring the arms of the major kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. The legend reads: “MAG BR FRA ET HIB REX 1687.” Some light scratches are present though they hardly detract from the desirability of this large 5 Guinea gold piece.

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at Though our Stack’s Bowers November Baltimore Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our January New York International Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our December 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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