"Rumored to exist," "reported but unconfirmed," and "existence reported in Baldwin Collection," are phrases that generate intrigue among serious numismatists.
A unique look at the rarest coinage of South Africa
"Rumored to exist," "reported but unconfirmed," and "existence reported in Baldwin Collection," are phrases that generate intrigue among serious numismatists. When a collection of the magnitude of the Royle Baldwin Collection of South African coins comes to light, it offers a rare opportunity to solve some of these numismatic riddles. The collection did not disappoint on any of these counts. Assembled during the first part of the Twentieth century by a member of the Baldwin family, professional numismatists in the UK, this collection of South African coinage includes many of its most fabled coins.
The collection provides a rare glimpse into the numismatic history of South Africa. Pattern coins are abundant and trace the trail of development of the coinage. Prizes among the group were pattern 1874 5-shilling pieces: three in gilt copper, all graded Proof-64 by NGC, and also three aluminum pieces, with reeded edge, with finely reeded edge, and with plain edge. NGC has also confirmed the existence of the South Africa Republic Penny struck on a triple-thick piedfort planchet, graded Proof-65. Also certified were an Orange Free State Pattern Kroon dated 1887 with extremely fine edge milling in silver, and another in lead! Possibly unique!
The numismatic history lesson continued with the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek coinage. Arguably, many of the most important rarities are present. For example, included was an 1897 sixpence struck in gold, which Alec Kaplan's reference work The Coins of South Africa describes as follows: "Listed by Gordon… recorded as being in the Baldwin Collection and probably unique" — a seemingly common phrase heard in reference to ZAR coins. This piece was followed by another 1897 sixpence, plain edge piedfort in copper. There also are an 1898 3-pence struck in gold as well as probably the finest 1898 stamped 99-pound in existence, graded MS-66 by NGC.
The token issues were highlighted by several rare Griquatown tokens. There are gilt copper examples of the 1/4d and 1/2d, both graded Proof-63. These are possibly unique and were previously only "rumored" to exist. The balance of the series consists of high-grade silver and copper issues from 1/4 pence through 10 pence.
One of the last items acquired for this collection was a very rare 1935 proof set. This is the most modern issue contained in the collection. Krause and Mischler's Standard Catalog of World Coins records a mintage figure of 20 pieces for each of the coins in the set. It's only fitting the last item included in the collection is just as interesting a rarity as the earlier issues. This collection is a true treasure for the South African coin enthusiast.