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The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 22, May 30, 2010, Article 4

BALDWINS STRICKLAND NEVILLE ROLFE COLLECTION SALE RESULTS

Caroline Newton of Baldwin's kindly forwarded the results of the London firm's Auction 64-65. Thanks! Some of the lots were featured in an earlier E-Sylum article. I'll repeat some of that earlier piece here, followed by some sale results. -Editor

Wyon Three Graces The Strickland Neville Rolfe collection is an amazingly conserved compilation of Ancient, British and World coins, tokens and Commemorative medals that has been untouched and out of circulation since 1852.

This numismatic collection has remained in the hands of Rolfe’s descendents since his death and brilliantly represents a snapshot of the tastes and interests of an educated English country gentleman and divine of the Victorian era.

Strickland Charles Edward Neville Rolfe was born in 1789, eldest son of General Neville of the Royal Artillery. He assumed the name and arms of Rolfe by royal warrant in 1837, upon receiving the bequest of the estates at Heacham and Sedgeford, from Edmund Rolfe, a distant relative who had no issue.

The English coins from the collection span three centuries and include some key rarities, such as the pattern "Incorrupta" crown (lot 1405), one of only eighteen known to have been struck, and the "Three Graces" crown, one of the most important and majestic coins of the English series (lot 1406).

Both the "Incorrupta" and the "Three Graces" crowns were struck by the renowned medallist, William Wyon. Wyon was born into a family of engravers and medallists and was the official Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death in 1851. He is well known amongst the numismatic community for the prolific amount of work he produced and for his artistic ability.

There were Rolfes amongst the early settlers in America, notably as successful Virginia tobacco farmers and amongst the colonial coins are some superb early American coins. Most notably a pewter Continental Dollar (lot 1589), some stunningly preserved Rose Americana coppers (lots 1590-1593), and a magnificent Virginia halfpenny (lot 1594).

Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the collection is the series of Norfolk and Suffolk 17th Century tokens (lots 1474-1486). This is a substantial collection of 365 pieces, formed with obvious pride and dedication, as is confirmed by the meticulous notebook kept by Rolfe for the Norfolk part.

1474 book1 1474 book2

1474 book3

Whether he drew the astonishing pen and ink illustrations himself, or employed an artist to do them, we will never know. There are numerous rarities for both counties, many in remarkably high grade. The sobering thought is that this collection was unknown to the key researchers and cataloguers of this series in the 19th and 20th Centuries, William Boyne (1858), George Williamson (1889) and latterly, Michael Dickinson. The tokens listed in the notebook will be sold with it in one lot, to maintain the integrity of the collection.

The sale, which included part one of The Michael Hall Collection, The Bishop’s Wood Hoard of Roman Coins and The Strickland Neville Rolfe Collection attracted 846 different bidders over the two days and achieved some exceptional individual results.

The Bishop’s Wood Hoard of Roman coins was amongst the lots in the Ancient section which opened the second day of the sale. The 1,661 coins and the restored jar that contained them were sold in 10 lots including the purpose built cabinet in which they were housed. The lots drew worldwide interest amongst the ancient numismatic community prior to the auction as the coins had remained uncirculated and had been in the family of the landowner since their discovery in 1895. In total the 10 lots (lots 1152-1162) achieved £46,964. The lots were all won by the same bidder so we are very happy to report that this part of the hoard remains intact.

The most notable lots included key rarities, such as the pattern “Incorrupta” crown (lot 1405), one of only eighteen known to have been struck, and the “Three Graces” crown, one of the most important and majestic coins of the English series (lot 1406), which sold for £25,960 and £29,500 respectively against estimates of £10,000-£15,000. Lot 1452, an undated Charles II, St. Patrick’s coinage Farthing, achieved an exceptional hammer price of £3,776.

Lot 1474, a collection of 239 Norfolk 17th Century tokens, complete with accompanying notebook, sold well over estimate for £14,750. The notebook itself pre-dates any of the reference works on which we rely today and exposes Rolfe as somewhat of a pioneer in this field, which is sure to have contributed to the excellent result achieved for the lot. By far the most compelling piece in the collection was a stunningly preserved 1776 Continental Dollar (lot 1588, pictured above) which sold in the room for a staggering £63,720.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BALDWINS TO OFFER STRICKLAND NEVILLE ROLFE COLLECTION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n15a19.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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