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LOT 143

Sold for (Inc. bp): £7,590

(28.03 grams, 43.33 mm (maximum).).

July 1644 - July 1645. Scarborough Castle besieged. A uniface crown of five shillings formed from a piece of flattened out domestic silver (with one edge showing the rim moulding of the original vessel) and bearing a single, stamped impression of a depiction of the castle with gate to side and the letters V below S (for five shillings). Flan quite worn, marks about fine and off centre, triple test cut to reverse. Excessively rare.

Found Lincolnshire, about 1995.

S. 3154; N. 2650b. See Hunterian Museum for the only other recorded Scarborough crown piece bearing this mark. See also Brooker 1236 (for a halfcrown) and DNW 29 September 2010, lot 1628 (for a sixpence).

The Scarborough siege issues are all extremely rare and the series includes various odd denominations (5/8, 3/4, 2/10, 2/4, 2/2, etc.) due to their being made from roughly cut up pieces of silver (derived from household silver, such as plates, dishes, jugs, spoons, etc), flattened out and bearing a value equivalent to the weight of the piece (rather than being cut to a standard weight series).

XRF analysis indicates the piece to contain 93.3% silver, 6% copper, 0.5% lead and 0.2% tin, which is appropriate for 17th century sterling silver (normally at 92.5% fine for assay and hallmarking). An XRF Certificate is included with this item.

The majority of the experts consulted gave the view that this is indeed a genuine and original piece of Scarborough Castle siege money, originating from the same host piece of silver as that of the Hunterian example (as the rim detailing matches) and everyone who has examined it agrees that it is contemporary. The British Museum was not able to express a definitive view as they have no piece for direct comparison.

In any event, the Hunterian specimen is the only other known Scarborough crown bearing the castle punch in this form (a modern Dorchesters WRL pewter replica of the Hunterian piece is included to accompany this lot, for comparison). There are simply not enough extant specimens to either formulate an absolute authentication or to condemn it and it does not correspond with any of the known copy or forgery types. The degree of wear to the piece does hinder direct comparison with other pieces.

The unusual shape (most Scarborough pieces are roughly rectangular, except for at least one recorded example made from a flattened spoon bowl) could well derive from this piece of plate being taken from the spout of a ewer or similar vessel. The bevelling to the curved edge would naturally be present at the abutment joint between a spout and the main body of a ewer/jug or similar. The flattening of the rim moulding would also result from the spout section being hammered from curved to flat and the slightly uneven upper surface does show hammering marks (and results in an uneven stamp impression). The stamp impression of the castle is off centre, being partly off the 'flan', as is the letter V. Most surviving examples are quite well centred and struck but that could arise simply from deliberate selection of better made specimens for retention. It would not be surprising for the stamping to be poorly executed on some pieces, given the overall crudity of the series and with no attempt being apparently made to cut the silver to appropriate weights for normal denomination values.

This piece was found by metal detector in Lincolshire some several years ago (but not recognised until recently). The degree of general wear indicates a quite long life, perhaps as a 'pocket' or souvenir piece.