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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 29, July 19, 2009, Article 18

WILLIAM B. CHRISTENSEN

An E-Sylum reader forwarded these thoughts on William B. Christensen -Editor
In reading a column in one of the numismatic publications, I learned of the passing of William B. Christensen. Bill was the son of Henry Christensen Jr. who ran a numismatic firm bearing his name until his death in 1979.

The Christensen firm was a leading auctioneer of foreign coins and paper money, and occasionally sold U.S. material as well. For example, Bill sold the collection of John M. Willem, the author of the trade dollar book.

Bill's collection of Sarawak currency was sold on July 4th in Spink's 'Stamps, Banknotes, and Coins of Southeast Asia' sale in Singapore. Here's what Spink printed in their introduction to the Christensen Sarawak collection on page 25 of the catalog:
The son of the numismatist Henry Christensen, Bill was born to collect and began as a child with toy soldiers and trains. Bill graduated from The Pingry School, in New Jersey, and Colgate University, in New York. Billís studies were in English and History, with a strong interest in legend and myth.

Henry Christensen was perhaps the leading numismatist in the world specializing in Spanish Colonial coins, and indeed held the first sale of doubloons from a wrecked galleon. After Bill completed his bachelorís degree at Colgate University and had a short stint in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica, he joined his fatherís office and they together expanded it greatly.

Bill continued the business after his fatherís death, until his retirement some years ago. Focusing his collecting passion away, but not far, from their business of coins, Bill took up his fatherís collection of revenue stamps, building it to encompass all quarters of the globe, and paper currency. An anglophile at heart, he developed a fascination with Sarawak and his collections tend towards Britain and its former colonies.

While Billís branch of the Brooke family came to Maryland in the early 18th century, Bill liked to think of himself as a distant relative of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, and collected all manner of things associated with the Brookes and Sarawak. He visited Borneo several times.


Bill once owned one of the most complete collections of beer cans in the world. The name Christensen is still legendary in that universe. He also had a wonderful collection of nautical medals, which were used to decorate the office in Madison.

Very interesting. I never knew the Christensens, but I'll bet some of our E-Sylum readers did. Who has some stories to share? -Editor




Wayne Homren, Editor

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