A gold Angel struck in 1483 during the 86-day reign of Edward V which sold for £42,000 at Dix Noonan Webb in London on March 15.

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The rare gold Angel dates from the tragically brief reign of Edward V, the shortest-lived male monarch in English history. It was bought by a UK private collector bidding in the room for £42,000 against an estimate of £12,000-15,000. It was found in a Dorset field by a metal detectorist in August last year.

Research into the Angel – with its image of the Archangel Saint Michael slaying a dragon – revealed that it was minted during the reign of the 12-year-old who was king for just 86 days in 1483. Edward, one of only four English monarchs never to have been crowned, and his younger brother vanished into a dungeon in the Tower of London.

The Angel’s halved sun and rose mint mark, which indicates where and when it was made, and the legend Edward Di Gra, show that it was minted during the reign of the boy king who nominally ruled from April 9-June 25.

It was probably struck on the orders of Lord Hastings, Chamberlain of the Royal Household, and this reduces the timeframe to June 13 when Hastings was executed. In reality, the coin is likely to have been minted in April or May 1483 as Edward and his brother were incarcerated at the beginning of June.

Their uncle, Richard of Gloucester, had ordered their imprisonment and then seized the throne, being crowned Richard III on June 26, 1483. Shortly after, the dies used to mint coins were altered to read Ricard Di Gra and the mint mark was overstruck with his personal emblem, a boar’s head.

Whether Richard was the monster of Shakespearean repute or a much maligned monarch is a question still fiercely debated, of course.