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Battle of Vigo - 1702-1703 Anne British Coins

By Coinsanduk    |   Saturday, 13 January 2024

Shilling - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

On October 23, 1702, during opening year of the War of Spanish Succession, there was a naval engagement. It was the Battle of Vigo Bay, also known as the Battle of Rande.

In September, a powerful fleet of Anglo-Dutch warships was assembled under Admiral Sir George Rooke, as Commander-in-Chief, to attack and capture the Spanish port Cadiz to secure a naval base in the Iberian Peninsula. Some footholds were gained near the city but after six weeks of vacillation the allied fleet retired.

During the retreat, George Rooke received news that the Spanish treasure fleet from America, laden with silver and merchandise, had entered Vigo Bay in northern Spain. The Spanish silver fleet (from New Spain left Veracruz under escort of a French squadron commanded by Admiral Château-Renault (56 vessels 22 Spanish and 34 French).

In Vigo Bay, the allied force captured or disabled all the French and Spanish ships which were behind a boom with twin batteries. However, they were trapped and fired upon during the naval engagement, which was a major victory for the Anglo-Dutch forces. Allied marines captured the harbour defenses and defeated the boom.

Most of the silver had already been unloaded from the ships before the Allied attack, and was ultimately deposited in the castle of Segovia. Around 4,504 lbs 2 oz (2,043 kg) of silver and 7 lbs 8 oz (3.4 kg) of gold was captured.

Some coins subsequently struck from these (in 1702 and 1703) bore the word VIGO below Anne's bust (new Queen), and are rare (gold) and valuable. It was mostly use as a tool of propaganda and was included in a campaign to add reputation to the Queen. Denominations with VIGO under the bust include: Half Guineas, Guineas, Five Guineas, Crowns, Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpences. Silver VIGO coinage is not rare but is sought-after.

Our will & pleasure is & we do hereby require & authorise you to cause to be coyned all such Gold & Silver as shall be brought into our Mint and delivered unto you... with this inscription Vigo in small letters under Our Effigies, which we intend as a mark of distinction from the rest of our Gold & silver moneys and to continue to posterity the remembrance of that glorious action.

- Queen Anne, to Issac Newton, Mint's Master

5 Guineas

5 Guineas - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Only 15 to 20 examples are known and they include three known varieties. On January 13, 2019, during a sale by Baldwin's of St James, an auction record for a British coin was set in New York when a 1703 Vigo (PCGS-MS62) five guineas piece sold for £845,000) including premium.

In 2021, an uncirculated and slightly damaged Vigo 5 Guineas (NGC UNC Details) sold for around £240,000.

Single largest denomination struck from specie captured from the Spanish at Vigo Bay in 1702 as part of the War of Spanish Succession.

- Heritage Auctions

  • Weight: 41.9 g
  • Diamater: 37 mm
  • Die axis: ↑↓
  • Composition: Gold (91.67%)
  • KM: 520.1
  • Fr: 318
  • Spink: 3561
  • Schneider: 523

The three varieties can be distinguished by the position of VIGO below Anne's bust.

Other denominations and dates

Sixpence 1703

6 Pence - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Shilling 1702

Shilling - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Shilling 1703

Shilling - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Half Crown 1703

Half Crown - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Crown 1703

Crown - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

Half-Guinea 1703

Half Guinea - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins


Guinea - Battle of Vigo - 1703 Anne British Coins

An English expedition in 1825 led by William Evans utilized a diving bell, and over the course of a year managed to recover small amounts of silver, cannonballs, and other items.

Vigo in 2024

Vigo is a city on Spain's northwest coast. The mouth of the nearby Vigo Estuary is sheltered by the Cíes Islands, which form part of the Atlantic Islands National Park. The Cíes are known for their rich birdlife and crescent-shaped Rodas Beach. The city's old quarter is home to the neoclassical Church of Santa María. The Castro de Vigo archaeological site has reconstructed ancient dwellings.

British Early Milled Coinage

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