Rare Richard III Half-Angel goes on display

An exhibition celebrating the discovery of a Richard III half-angel opens at the the Old Gaol Museum in Buckingham on Saturday, 2 October.

The find

The coin was found by detectorist Dave Bethell on 12 September 2020 in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire. Dave tells that after a particularly fraught day at work he took his metal detector to one of his permissions in order to destress. He arrived at the field at dusk and began detecting. Suddenly a strong signal and he started to dig a hole. He kept digging deeper but found nothing. Then he started to scrape the sides and the coin fell out. Even before he picked it up, he knew it was special.

The Coin

The coin was recorded at the PAS as BUC-F502B8. It is a gold half-angel of Richard III, dating to AD 1483 – 1485. On each side the initial mark is a boar’s head, the white boar being the emblem of Richard III. On the reverse there is a ship with an R and the Yorkist Rose either side of a cross.

Only seven are known to exist and of those this one is considered to be in the best condition. It is also the only one to be on public display anywhere in the world

Exhibition

The coin was due to go to auction and seemed likely to be sold to an overseas collector. But Dave was keen for the coin to remain in Buckingham and the Old Gaol was given a chance to buy it.

The rarity of the coin and the notoriety of Richard III inspired the museum to create an exhibition worthy of the subject. Clearly an important exhibition as there will be an opening ceremony attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, the Mayor of Buckingham Margaret Gateley and the chair of the Old Gaol Trust, Hélène Hill. Re-enactors dressed as Richard and some of his retinue will be mingling with the crowd. The exhibition tells the story of how the coin was found and the life of Richard III.

The museum says “This is a discovery of immense significance not only locally, but also beyond.

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