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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 92. Estimate CHF4000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF4000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Great Britain / Netherlands. William III. 1694-1702. Medal (Silver, 57mm, 86 g 12), on the suppression of Sir George Barclay’s assassination plot against William III. By Jan Boskam of Nijmegen, 1696. WILHELMVS.III.D.G.MAG.BRIT.FRANC.ET.HIB.REX Laureate and draped bust of William III to right, an oval shield over his right shoulder bearing the Hebrew name of Jehovah in rays at the center, encircled by the inscription: NON.LAEDITVR,QVEM.TEGO (=he does no suffer whom I protect). Rev. DEXTRA.LATENS.COERCET. (=a hidden right hand restrains them) // MDCXCVI / I.BOSKAM.F. Six female figures, two holding a dagger, two a serpent, and two a torch, all bound by a rope around their heads leading to an unseen hand above in the clouds, dancing in a circle. MI ii, pp. 151-2, 413. Van Loon IV, p. 225. Very rare. A beautifully toned medal with a fine portrait of the king and a fascinating allegorical reverse type. Some very minor marks, otherwise, extremely fine.

This medal concerns the foiled plot of Sir George Barclay, a Jacobite conspirator who sought to murder William III in Turnham Green when he was traveling between Richmond and Kensington, and then bring back James II with the help of a French army. There were at least forty plotters involved, several of whom revealed the plans: while Barclay escaped to France, nine of the other plotters were executed. In addition, the plot led to one of the great injustices of British legal history. One of the supposed plotters was a certain Major Bernardi, an Englishman of Genoese descent who had served the both James II and the Dutch. He was suspected of being a conspirator, but since the government lacked any evidence, he, and five others, were jailed and the right of habeus corpus was suspended for nine months to allow the government time to find some. Since none was forthcoming, and their lawyers demanded that they either be tried or allowed bail, the government passed a bill in Parliament authorizing the men to be imprisoned for another year. This action was repeated until William III’s death in 1702. Queen Anne released one of them but continued the incarceration of the other five. As did George I. When George II ascended to the throne there were three left, against whom no convincing evidence had ever been provided. Again their lawyers petitioned for the release of men who had, by then, been imprisoned, surely unjustly, for 31 years. The government opposed this and continued to keep them in Newgate Prison until, finally, Benardi the last surviving member of the original six, died aged 82 in 1736. The only solace he had during this time was his marriage, when he was in his fifties in 1712, to a woman who helped make his life a bit better in Newgate (and gave him ten children!).