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Grandmother discovers rare coin worth £100K in box of junk

man holding rare coin
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A rare coin dismissed as ‘junk’ has been valued at more than £100,000

The Rawlins’ Crown, discovered in an attic in Hull, is an exceptionally rare coin. It was minted in 1644, during the reign of Charles I, and according to our experts, it’s one of only 100 ever made.

The coin’s 69 year old owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said she kept it in a cardboard shoebox in a wardrobe for decades after her grandfather passed it down to her.

Her grandfather, who was a fisherman, like her late husband, may have got hold of the coin in the docks in Hull or traded it for beer in a local pub.

Antony Charman, our Co-founder and head valuer said:

“We are excited to have found it for her. It shows that things don't slip through. My theory is that with her grandfather being a fisherman, he may have got it on the docks. Fishermen were notorious drunks so it may have changed hands in the pubs.”

Whilst clearing out her attic, the 69 year old grandmother from Hull found the long-forgotten box and offered it to her children, who politely declined what they saw as worthless junk. She considered just binning the box but decided to post it, for free to Vintage Cash Cow, with some costume jewellery and a silver plated tea set.

Antony Charman added:

“We receive literally tonnes of coins and much of this is only worth its weight in metal. But this distinctive coin immediately stood out. Given its value, we decided to share the good news face to face with the owner and her trusted friend.

Her other items were worth £150 and I think she was already delighted with that, but thought a house visit was a little over the top. We then revealed the valuation of the Charles 1st coin and she nearly fell off her chair!”

At Vintage Cash Cow we are now organising the auction of the coin, which is likely to take place in either London, New York or Hong Kong. The rare Rawlins Crown is expected to fetch in excess of £100,000, with coin collectors attracted by its rarity and exceptionally good condition.

rare coins

The owner plans to use the windfall to take the overseas cruise she’s always wanted and to help her granddaughter, (who is currently expecting her first child) to pay for a house deposit.

Antony Charman says:

“Our priority now is getting the best deal possible for the owner, which means working with an auction house that will understand the prestige value of selling such a rare coin and keep commission fees sensible.”

The discretion that our ‘no hassle, no haggle’ online service offers undoubtedly helped save the coin from the litter bin.

According to Antony:

“People are often embarrassed to take items to valuers in person and don’t have the time to list multiple items on auction sites. We’re addressing that by letting people send us stuff in bulk to get a free valuation. Hopefully this means more valuable items will be saved from landfill.”

The Making of the Oxford Crown

Antony talks us through the fascinating history behind this incredible find.

man inspects rare coin

What is the Rawlins Crown?

The Rawlins Crown is also known as the Oxford Crown. It was minted in 1644 making it 374 years old. Only 100 were ever made. 

The engraver of the Oxford Crown was Thomas Rawlins which is why it’s sometimes known as the Rawlins Crown. 

Why is the Rawlins Crown so valuable?

The coin is very rare, and it marks historic events, so it’s highly collectable by coin collectors (numismatists).

The coin shows a view of the city of Oxford behind the figure of the King and marks a short period of time in which Charles I established his headquarters in Oxford during the English Civil War. 

Because of the war, Charles I needed to mint more money, so he set up his Royal Mint in Oxford from 1643 to 1646. 

Thomas Rawlins was a medalist and playwright born around 1620, who also worked as a goldsmith and gem engraver. In 1643 he was appointed ‘graver of seals stamps and medals’ and he went on to create the Oxford Crown.

The incredible story behind the creation of this coin nearly 400 years ago, along with the fact that it’s in great condition, is what makes it such a valuable piece.

Valuable piece

What do the markings on the Rawlins Crown mean?

The front of the Rawlins crown shows the King Charles I on horseback with the city of Oxford behind him. It’s rare to find such a detailed image on such an old coin. 

The writing around the coin is from Psalm 68: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered”.

The coin describes King Charles in Latin as 'Charles, by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland'.

The Latin on the reverse of the coin details his aims in war - to uphold the Protestant religion, laws of England and freedom of parliament.

Do you have any rare coins hiding in your home? Sell your old coins to Vintage Cash Cow to find out.

Where to find a rare coin in your home 

Antony’s top tips:

  1. Look in old tins, especially rusty old tobacco tins. Make sure you also look in old boxes, tool drawers, sheds, old toy boxes and piggy banks.
  2. Traditionally, coins have always been hidden in the linings of curtains to weigh them down, so you may find a rare one there.
  3. Rarity and condition are the big factors. Roman coins, may seem an exciting find, but they’re very common and often worth very little.
  4. Although people think that hunting with a metal detector in their gardens will unearth a treasure trove those found buried are often in poor condition.
  5. It’s not just British coins that are valuable. Foreign holiday currency is also worth sending in as it will have a value.

The world’s most valuable and rare coins

Antony tells us more:

  1. 1933 UK penny. Seven were made, but only six are known to exist. The remaining one could be worth £72,000, but if in fine condition could be worth £250,000.
  2. 1855 Sydney Mint Type I Sovereign is worth £16,822.
  3. 1943 Irish Florin is worth £1,500 and is considered the rarest modern Irish coin to have actually circulated.
  4. The 1985 Irish 20p and 1992 Irish 10p were not intended to circulate and were minted only for testing purposes. However, a few were never returned by the engineers that used them. They can be worth up to £8,000.
  5. 1928 George V UK wreath crown can be worth up to £550. 9,000 were minted but the detail on the back gives it significant value.

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