NGC-certified Coins from Ellerby Area Hoard Offered in Spink Auction

Posted on 9/26/2022

Over 250 gold coins from the 17th and 18th centuries were discovered in a pottery cup in a historic English home.

Every coin has a history. Some coins also have a story. Such is the case for the coins that have come to be known as the Ellerby Area Hoard. Since being discovered in 2019 beneath the floorboards of a historic home in a small village in England, the collection has captured the imagination of coin collectors and historians alike.

The historic hoard is being offered at a Spink & Son auction on October 7, 2022. Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) was selected to certify the collection, which includes more than 250 gold coins that date from 1610 to 1727. NGC encapsulated the coins with a customized Ellerby Area Hoard special label.

The coins are believed to have belonged to a woman named Sarah Fernley, who once owned the home in Ellerby, North Yorkshire, where they were found. Fernley passed away in 1745. They were rediscovered during a kitchen renovation project, contained in a pottery cup that historians say dates from the early 18th century.

One explanation that has been offered for the mysterious hoard is that Sarah Fernley, who was a member of a wealthy merchant family, did not trust the newly established Bank of England nor the paper money that it issued. Another theory speculates that Fernley was concerned about a possible war with France, which was one of England’s chief rivals at the time, and hid the stash of coins in anticipation of a French invasion.

The Ellerby Area Hoard is mostly composed of coins that would have been used as currency from the reign of King James I through that of King George I. Gregory Edmund, a coin expert with Spink & Son in London, described the coins as “workhorses” that had received heavy use during their time. The earliest are Unites and Laurels, and most of the rest are Guineas and Half Guineas.

The hoard includes coins from England and Scotland as well as Great Britain, which was formed by the union of those two countries in the early 1700s. Some of the more notable coins include:

Charles I (ruled 1625-1649)

An England 1625 England Unite that was graded NGC AU 58 (lot 42) has an estimate of £900 to £1,200 (about $1,000 to $1,200). The Latin inscription that rings the King’s image on the obverse of the coin translates to “Charles by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland.” The “XX” behind the King’s head indicates that it is a 20 Shilling coin. The inscription on the back, which rings a crowned shield, reads “Through concord kingdoms flourish.” The coin is among the highest-graded in the hoard.

England (1625-26) Unite graded NGC AU 58 and pedigreed to the Ellerby Area Hoard
Click images to enlarge.

Charles II (ruled 1660-1685)

An England 1675 “CRAOLVS” Guinea that is graded NGC F 15 (lot 101) has an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500 (about $1,100 to $1,600). The normal Latin inscription on these coins includes “CAROLVS II DEI GRATIA” on the obverse, along with an image of the King. On this example of the coin, the inscription reads “CRAOLVS II DEI GRATIA.” The auction house describes it as “one of the most overt, implausible and frankly ridiculous errors in the long and illustrious history of English coinage.” It suggests that the misspelling may have been done as a statement against the “Great Stop of the Exchequer” orchestrated by King Charles II in 1672.

England 1675 "CRAOLVS" Guinea graded NGC F 15 and pedigreed to the Ellerby Area Hoard
Click images to enlarge.

Queen Anne (ruled 1702-1714)

A 1705 England Queen Anne Guinea that is graded NGC AU 50 (lot 164) has an estimate of £3,000 to £4,000 (about $3,200 to $4,300). These coins, which date from before the time that England was unified with Scotland, are extremely rare in any condition. It is the finest example to be certified by NGC. Only three other examples are believed to have been offered at public auction in the past two decades.

an England 1705 Guinea graded NGC AU 50 and pedigreed to the Ellerby Area Hoard
Click images to enlarge.

King George I (ruled 1714-1727)

A Great Britain 1720 Guinea with Reverse Brockage that is graded NGC AU 55 (lot 241) has an estimate of £3,000 to £4,000 (about $3,200 to $4,300). This is an error coin, in which the obverse was mistakenly struck with an inverted version of the design from the reverse side of the coin. The auction house says such an error is “seldom if ever encountered in the English early milled gold series.”

a Great Britain 1720 Guinea with Brockage on Obverse graded NGC Mint Error AU 55 and pedigreed to the Ellerby Area Hoard
Click images to enlarge.

Because the Ellerby Area Hoard was buried less than 300 years ago, it is not considered a “treasure” under English law. As a result, the owner of the home where the hoard was discovered, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was not required to surrender it to the English government. Only one coin from the hoard — a Portuguese Brazilian 1721 4,000 Reis that would have been accepted as legal tender in England in the 18th century — was taken to be displayed at the British Museum.

All estimates are provided by the auction house. The $ symbol represents US Dollars.

Related Link The "Ellerby Area" Hoard of English Gold Coins

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