World Coins

Farouk catalog notable for collection, but not scholarship

A 1954 catalog from Sotheby’s auction of the “Palace Collection” (formed by Egypt’s King Farouk) is notable not for its research scholarship but the collection it represents.

Image courtesy of Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers.

Auction catalogs can serve as a wellspring of scholarship, especially when thorough collections are presented for sale with careful, even lifelong, research.

There are exceptions, like the 1954 catalog for Sotheby’s auction of Egyptian King Farouk’s collection. A Near Fine example of the catalog is offered in Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers’ Jan. 10 auction in New York City.

Though not among the expensive highlights, the book is important for the collection that it represents. 

According to David Fanning, Fred Baldwin cataloged the Farouk sale and had to do so in very poor circumstances. “He was rushed, under armed watch at all times, and had little access to any references in Cairo. The resulting descriptions were intended largely for those personally in attendance, who could see the coins for themselves,” said Fanning. 

Besides U.S. coins (like the famous 1933 gold $20 double eagle), Farouk’s collection (dubbed the “Palace Collection”) contained a wide array of world and ancient coins. 

“This universal appeal explains in part the somewhat expensive price tag of a not-especially-old catalog that isn’t particularly fancy,” said Fanning.

The catalog has an estimate of $350. 

To learn more about the sale, visit the firm’s website

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