A rare “proof” penny is going up for sale after being valued at £200,000.

A rare coin which became a flashpoint between Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor and King George VI will go on sale to the public later this month after being valued at £200,000.

The 1937 King Edward VIII Penny is believed to be the first piece of royal memorabilia to enter into fractional ownership — a scheme which allows ordinary members of the public to buy shares for just £50.

Experts say the coin’s allure stems from the fact it never entered public circulation, and that Edward was so worried about how the parting of his hair looked that he insisted on breaking with centuries-old Royal tradition which required that the Monarch’s effigy face the opposite direction of their predecessor.


Coin abandoned after abdication

The Royal Mint scheduled the issue of the King Edward Penny for 8am on January 1, 1937 but the plans were quickly abandoned when Edward abdicated the throne on December 11, 1936 amid a deepening constitutional crisis over his relationship with the American socialite Wallis Simpson.

As head of the Anglican church, Edward had been forbidden from marrying Wallis because of her status as a divorcée. The scandal caused a painful split in the Monarchy which has been likened in more recent times to the rift between Princes William and Harry over Meghan Markle.

Following abdication Edward’s title became Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor. The Royal Mint’s decision to drop the coinage was widely reported by the newspapers of the day. But what the editors didn’t know was that a presentation example of the coin — known in numismatic circles as a “proof” — had in fact already been minted.

King Edward VIII faced wrong direction on penny

A peculiarity in the coin’s design, which has added to its rich folklore, concerns Edward’s effigy which ought to have faced away from his predecessor George V who looked left. According to archivists at the Royal Mint, Edward fretted that the inclusion of his right side would break up an otherwise solid fringe of hair. He was insistent that his left side made for a more beguiling portrait.

According to the Royal Mint’s files, Edward asked for the penny soon after abdication but was turned down. No longer under his brother’s thumb, George personally blocked the request, and as the penny had never passed through the Royal Proclamation, it was never deemed official.

It was perhaps the first shot in a bitter feud between the two men which would ultimately leave Edward an outcast. Historians say George was furious at what he saw as the selfishness of the abdication and made it clear in subsequent phone calls to his brother that he was determined to cut his access to public monies — including the famous penny.

Files unearthed at the Royal Mint reveal that the two brothers were still at loggerheads over the issue just weeks before George’s death. The documents — dated December 1951 — reveal Edward was still making enquiries about his penny at this time but would again be disappointed. King George VI died on February 6, 1952, and though Edward survived him by 20 years, the penny would always elude him.


How to buy a share in rare penny

The Edward VIII Penny has now been acquired by the collectables platform Showpiece.com, and from March 8, royal enthusiasts will be offered the chance to own their own part of the fabled coin. Ownership has been divided into 4000 pieces — or shares — which people will be able to purchase for £50.

In recent years fractional ownership has transformed the world of fine art and iconic collectables. Recent offerings have included art works by Banksy and the £6.2million One Cent Magenta stamp. Typically a trust is established for each item which is then split into fractions. Owners can vote to accept or decline future bids and are then paid out on a pro-rata basis. Buyers will be limited to a 10% stake in the famous penny.

Dan Carter, co-founder of Showpiece.com, said: “Few treasures are steeped in more intrigue than the 1937 King Edward VIII Penny.

“From the fuss over the parting of the King’s hair, to the scandal which caused him to lose his crown, this is an irresistible story which will captivate historians and the public alike.

“This is a unique opportunity for members of the public to acquire a stake in this famous coin and we are expecting significant interest.”