A rare British 1839 "Una and the Lion" gold coin, graded NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo, brought approximately $460,000, or £340,000, at the September 2017 Premier Coinex auction in London.
Sold by Baldwin’s of St. James’s, the rarity doubled its pre-auction estimate of £150,000 to £200,000. Only around 400 examples of the gold piece were struck to commemorate the start of Queen Victoria’s reign two years earlier.
"The impressive price realized by this beautiful ‘Una and the Lion’ proof reflects the value that collectors and dealers place in NGC’s expert services," said Mark Salzberg, NGC chairman. "We are honored to have been chosen to grade some of the most important coins from England."
The gold coin’s obverse or heads side shows a bust of Queen Victoria by chief engraver of the Royal Mint William Wyon, who also designed and sculpted the reverse. The legend VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D: surrounds the bust, Latin for “Victoria by the Grace of God, Queen of the British territories, Defender of the Faith.”
The more famous reverse once again features Queen Victoria, this time as Lady Una, a character from Edmund Spenser’s 1590 poem The Faerie Queene. She is shown directing a striding lion, with a scepter in her outstretched right hand and a globus cruciger (a cross-bearing orb) in her left. The scene is framed by the Latin motto DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS, which translates to "May the Lord direct my steps."
At an auction in Denver, Colorado, in August 2017, an 1826 Great Britain Gold 5 Pounds — graded NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo — sold for $305,500, the highest price ever paid for an example of that issue. NGC was also recently trusted to certify the most valuable English coin, a 1344 Edward III "Double Leopard," which had sold at an auction over a decade ago for the equivalent of $850,000.