The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 24, June 16, 2019, Article 23


Dix Noonan Webb of London are selling the second part of Marvin Lessen's North Yorkshire Moors collection of British coins. Here's the press release. -Editor

Lessen II sale coin1

Dix Noonan Webb, the international coin, medal, banknote and jewellery specialists, are delighted to be selling Part II of The North Yorkshire Moors collection of British coins formed by Marvin Lessen. The auction will be held on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 12noon at their auction rooms in central Mayfair - 16 Bolton St, London, W1J 8BQ. This follows the success of Part I which sold in April 2018 for more than £300,000.

Mr Lessen was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1934. His family moved to Hazleton, Pennsylvania and thence to Albany, New York, where relatives still live. Graduating from the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, he spent his career in the aerospace/defence industry, working in various technical locations in Europe and North America. A collector from an early age, of coins, stamps, arms and armour, his move to Scarborough in 1962 precipitated the interest to collect British coins on a serious basis.

Lessen II sale coin2

By the time he had joined the British Numismatic Society in October 1964, and subsequently the Royal Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Society, he was well-known to the principal London dealers of the day – Baldwin (Douglas and Peter Mitchell, and later Michael Sharp), Seaby (Frank Purvey and Alan Rayner), and in particular, Spink, where he enjoyed firm friendships with the late Douglas Liddell, then Patrick Finn, as well as with Douglas Saville and Howard Linecar in literature; also Corbitt & Hunter in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and other sources in the North-East. In the US there developed close connections with CNG (David Guest and Victor England), David Hess, Chris Blom, Joel Malter and Bill Castenholz, to name a few dealers in classical and medieval coins, as well as friends.

As Peter Preston-Morley, Specialist and Associate Director, DNW, explains: "This second sale of coins from the Lessen collection spans the half-millennium between Eadgar's coinage reform in 972/3, when mint names started to accompany those of moneyers on coins, and the death of Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485. Coins from over 50 different mint-towns from the period 973 to 1278 are represented in this catalogue, of which worthy of particular mention are the only penny of Lichfield available to commerce, excessively rare coins of Hythe and Pevensey and two issues from Gothabyrig, the West Country establishment whose exact location remains the subject of debate. Students of the later medieval period will be aware of Mr Lessen's particular interest in the coinages of Henry IV and V, and the period from 1399 to 1422 is very liberally represented in this catalogue".

Lessen II sale coin3

The collection comprises 526 lots and among the highlights is an extremely fine and rare penny dating from the reign of Edward the Martyr (975-978) which is estimated at £4,000- £5,000, and an example of a very fine and rare groat, dating from the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) and a new denomination at the time, is also estimated at £4,000-£5,000.

For more information, see:

Here is some additional information about Mr. Lessen from the catalogue Foreword. Follow the link for a list of Lessen's major numismatic writings. -Editor

Mr Lessen has been a frequent contributor to the pages of The British Numismatic Journal, The Numismatic Chronicle and Spink's Numismatic Circular, as can be seen from the bibliography below. His favourite period of numismatic study centred on the mid-17th century – the coins, medals and seals of Oliver Cromwell and the early years of Charles II. It is no coincidence that his favourite numismatic author was the gifted youth Henry William Henfrey (1852-81), whose Numismata Cromwelliana, privately published in 1877, remains one of the truly significant pieces of numismatic work produced in Britain in the 19th century which is still essential for the student in the 21st. Henfrey died of TB at the age of 29, his proposed history of English country mints unfinished – a very sad loss to numismatics at the time.

To read the complete Foreword, see:

Rosa E-Sylum ad01

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2012 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster