22 September 2015
The coins ‘festival’ held by Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins and medals specialists, totalled more than £2.1 million (almost £1.8 million total hammer price) as a series of important collections attracted strong bidding from dealers and private buyers over four days. The highlight of the London sale held from 15 to 18 September was the £240,000 (£200,000 hammer price) paid by a London dealer for the rare gold 1820 George III Pattern Five Pounds of which only 25 are thought to exist.
“This has been one of the most successful coins sales in the 25-year history of the company,” said Christopher Webb, head of the coins department at Dix Noonan Webb. “As well as great individual rarities, we were offering whole collections put together by people with different specialist interests but the same discerning eye. The market responded enthusiastically”
The catalogue - weighing 3.5 lbs (more than 1.5 kilograms) - was the bulkiest ever published by Dix Noonan Webb and detailed 2,362 lots of which more than 93% sold. The exact total hammer price was £1,783,155 and once buyer’s commission was added this rose to £2,139,786. The George III Pattern Five Pounds, designed as the king lay dying in 1820 and which effectively became a commemorative piece, was the biggest single contributor to the total. It had been estimated at £200,000 to £250,000.
Four collections put together by three men dominated the first two days of the series of auctions. A collection of Irish silver coins and tokens 1649-1813 put together by the late Harrington Manville, the American expert who compiled the Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics, sold for £220,572 with commission (total hammer price £183,810) with all 51 lots selling. Manville’s collection of Scottish silver coins and tokens 1664-1807 was likewise a sellout with all 194 lots going to new homes. The Scottish collection made £178,434 with commission (£148,695 total hammer price) with the very rare Charles II 4 Merks from 1664 selling for £31,200 with commission (£26,000 hammer price), far above the £6,000 to £8,000 estimate. The coin was helped by both an illustrious provenance, having been in the Bridgewater House Collection begun in the 17th century, and by its condition. It is almost certainly the finest specimen available to the market.
Likewise all the 28 lots from the Theo Bullmore Collection of Irish coins of the Great Rebellion 1642-1649 sold. The most high profile of these, the Ormonde Money gold pistole from 1646-47 sold for £78,000 with commission (£65,000 hammer price), which was below estimate. A Confederate Catholics ‘Rebel Money’ Halfcrown estimated at £10,000 to £12,000 attracted strong bidding selling in the saleroom for £19,200 with commission (£16,000 hammer price). Overall the collection assembled by Bullmore, a British chartered accountant who rose to become managing partner in the global financial services company KPMG, fetched £168,900 with commission (£140,750 total hammer price).
Part I of Paul Cattermole’s extraordinary collection of sixpences from Tudor times until decimalisation in 1970 made a total of £59,166 with commission (£49,305 hammer price). Other highlights of the series of sales included two Victorian proof sets which each made £31,200 with commission (£26,000 hammer price). The 1887 set had been estimated at £12,000 to £15,000 while the 1893 set was expected to sell for £15,000 to £20,000.