The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 15, April 11, 2010, Article 19


Baldwin's has snagged another landmark collection for sale. Following on the heels of the Michael Hall collection, the London firm has announced the auction of the Strickland Neville Rolfe collection, which has been kept intact by the family since the collector's death in 1852. What a marvelous time capsule (which includes a pewter Continental Dollar)! I was unable to locate the original press release on the Baldwin's site, but seems to have the full text. Here are some excerpts.

Caroline Newton of Baldwin's kindly forwarded images of some of the lots. Thanks! -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).

1406a 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.

Heavily influenced by relief sculpture he was an obvious advocate of Neo Classicist Vogue and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1838. It is astonishing that these coins were probably acquired soon after they were issued, which would account for their remarkable state of preservation.

There is an interesting selection of colonial coins in the collection including a number of East India Company coins from India and the Far East and St. Helena. It would be tempting to think that these were gifts from relatives who travelled overseas as we know that his second son, Henry Fawcett Rolfe, served in the Royal Navy, and died in the Far East.

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).

1588b 1588a

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 full catalogue for Baldwin's auction number 65 can be viewed online at and the Rolfe Collection will be sold alongside The Michael Hall Collection of medallic art and the Bishop's Wood Hoard of Roman coins. The quality and diversity of the items offered over the two days is unsurpassable and is sure to attract a lot of international attention.

To read the complete article, see: The Strickland Neville Rolfe Collection in Baldwin Auction (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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