World Coins

Gold 50-shilling coin of Cromwell soars in London auction

A Cromwell gold 50-shilling coin realized a record price during Dix Noonan Webb’s Jan. 21 auction in London.

Images courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb

A rare Oliver Cromwell gold 50-shilling coin, dating from 1656, by Thomas Simon, who was Cromwell’s chief engraver, sold for a world record price of £471,200 ($643,597 U.S.) including the 24% buyer’s fee, in a Jan. 21 auction in London by Dix Noonan Webb.

One of 12 examples known, with most in institutional collections, it was expected to realize £100,000 to £150,000 ($136,587 to $204,880 U.S.).

This example, once part of the Virgil Brand Collection, was bought by an American buyer after much interest from phone and internet bidders around the world.

The coin was offered in the fourth and final sale of the North Yorkshire Moors Collection of Coins and Medals, amassed by American-born Marvin Lessen, who spent his career in the aerospace-defense industry, working in various locations in Europe and North America.

However, when he moved to Scarborough in North Yorkshire in 1962, he began to collect British coins on a serious basis. By the time he joined the British Numismatic Society in October 1964, and subsequently the Royal Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Society, he was well known to the principal London dealers and auctioneers of the day.

Peter Preston-Morley of Dix Noonan Webb said: “We are extremely pleased with the results of today’s sale, which saw the gold Cromwell 50-shilling piece fetch a world record price for a Cromwellian coin”

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