Rare gold coin found in Norfolk sells for 'life-changing' £140,000

Andy Carter, Norwich metal detectorist

Andy Carter, 65, found a rare 14th century 'leopard' gold coin in a field outside Reepham in 2019. - Credit: Joanna Ashford/Dix Noonan Web

A metal detectorist has expressed delight after a rare gold coin he found in a north Norfolk field sold for £140,000.

The 'leopard' florin, dating from the reign of Edward III, went under the hammer on Tuesday (March 8) at an auction in Mayfair in London.

It was bought over the phone by a private UK collector.

A rare gold 'Leopard' florin found in north Norfolk is to be auctioned in London. 

The rare 'leopard' gold coin was sold at auction for £140,000. - Credit: Jan Starnes / Dix Noonan Webb

Andy Carter, 65, who unearthed the coin in October 2019 in a farmer's field near Reepham, said: "It has been a very long two and a half years since I found the coin and I can't believe that the day is actually here."

There were 153 lots up for sale before the 'leopard' florin was sold.

He said: "We were sat on our hands but it was all over in a few minutes. Before the coin sold my mouth went very dry and I am delighted how well it sold. This is a life-changing amount of money."

Mr Carter, a retired research scientist from Norwich, will get £70,000 as he is splitting the windfall evenly with the owner of the land where he made the discovery.

He said that he and his fiancee will buy a new kitchen and probably travel to New Zealand to visit his daughter and brother.

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"I have also always dreamt of getting a Land Rover Defender. Not sure where I will park it though," Mr Carter said.

Nigel Mills, auctioneer with Dix Noonan Web, said: "We felt very privileged to have sold the coin on behalf of Andy and his partner. It's a substantial amount of money."

The leopard florin was minted in 23 carat gold at the Tower of London in January 1344.  

A rare gold 'Leopard' florin found in north Norfolk is to be auctioned in London. 

Only six gold 'leopard' coins, dating from the reign of Edward III, have ever been found. - Credit: Jan Starnes / Dix Noonan Webb

It features a leopard sitting upright wearing a banner and had a face value of three shillings or 36 silver pennies - worth approximately a month's salary for the average person at the time. Its value was £1,000 to £2,000 of today's money. 

The coin was exclusively used by rich merchants and aristocrats for paying fines and buying and selling houses but was in circulation for only seven months before being withdrawn, as gold was worth more in bullion than in the coin itself.  

Except for Mr Carter's discovery, only five other such coins are known to still exist. Three were sold at auction before 1960 with two now in the British Museum and the third is at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.