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Fabulous Spanish Pattern Recalls Era Of Chaos

A highlight among world crowns is Lot 2998 of the Stack’s Bowers Ponterio sale at the New York International Numismatic Convention. This is a silver pattern five pesetas dated 1868, bearing the government’s name as SOBERANIA NACIONAL – GOBIERNO PROVISIONAL, National Sovereignty – Provisional Government. This crown-sized piece (NGC Proof-63) was designed by Luis Marchionni of the Madrid Mint and bears an elegant obverse of Hispania reclining with back to the Pyrenees and feet at Gibraltar. Its reverse bears the traditional quartered Arms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre between Pillars under a mural (not royal) crown, without the oval Arms of the Bourbon dynasty.
This handsome design mirrors the chaos through which Spain’s government passed from 1808 and to 1868, a period that saw invasion by Napoleon’s armies and usurpation of the throne by Jose Napoleon, restoration of the legitimate King Fernando VII, pro- and anti-constitutional civil wars, dynastic war between Queen Isabel II and her uncle Don Carlos V and his successors, and Isabel’s final overthrow in 1868. The queen left Spain on Sept. 30, 1868 and was replaced by this Provisional Government that lasted until Nov. 16, 1870. Neither monarchy nor republic, its status was summed up by the more or less neutral term National Sovereignty. The coin in the NYINC sale bears no denomination, but the circulating pieces would bear the legend ESPANA without designating kingdom or republic. The example in the January auction is one of the finest of a small number known and will certainly reward the most careful study.

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