The auction house of Woolley and Wallis in Wiltshire, England will auction a fine collection of early English medals next month. Here’s a preview from their web site.
This extraordinarily comprehensive collection has been assembled over the past quarter century or so by Christopher Foley FSA., director for the last forty years of the old-established dealer in early English paintings, Lane Fine Art Limited. He has long specialised in British portraiture, and was initially attracted to these medals by the correlation between the iconography of grand court portraiture in oil paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries and their reproduction on a tiny scale in precious metals.
His first ever purchase in the field was the rare oval uniface portrait medal of Elizabeth I. He had recently bought and sold the famous George Gower “Sieve” portrait of the Queen, and acquired the medal as little more than a personal souvenir of that transaction. Encouraged by the egregious advice of Richard Falkiner FSA, he soon developed a taste for (not to mention a large collection of) early British medals. His personal preference was for the hammered and the hand-made, so in the early years the collection concentrated on the era from the medallic incunabula of the Tudors to the relative sophistication of the Commonwealth era. The later 17th century “milled” medals followed somewhat later.
Now approaching seventy, Foley retains the magpie-instincts of the collector, but has decided that the pace of new additions to the present collection has slowed to such a large extent that he would like to concentrate on a numismatic-related collection in an entirely different field, one which reflects both his early education as a Classicist and his life-long enthusiasm for archaeology. He will also expand his art and history library - already more than 6,000 volumes – to include manuscript material.
With nearly 600 lots of individual medals, such a dispersal is exceedingly rare and has hardly been equalled in size and scope for completeness in the last 100 years, this year marking the centenary of the J.E. Hodgkin sale. Exactly a decade before this was the J.G. Murdoch dispersal. The collection of T.M. Whitehead was a demonstration of what a dealer was able to come by in the years before 1898. The previous year saw the massive sale of the collection formed by Hyman Montague. Before this we go into the mists of time, via the Lord Pembroke sale in 1848, Samuel Tyssen (1802) and Dr. Mead (1755) but suffice it to say these were collections formed haphazardly by usually noble collectors, recipients perhaps, who acquired these treasures at the time they were made; perhaps even from the very hand of the monarch. All this places this current sale in a proper context.
To read the complete article, see:
The Christopher Foley, F.S.A., Collection Of Early English Medals
Wayne Homren, Editor
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