Later this month St James’s Auctions in London is selling the remarkable collection of Elizabeth I coins formed by Christopher Comber. With permission, we're republishing his biography from the September 23, 2021 catalogue.
Chris was born in New Cross, south east London, the only child of Arthur and Julia Comber on 27th October 1944. He attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s boys’ school and was a proud Old Askean. In later years he continued to enjoy life to the full despite some health issues, enjoying family occasions and contributing to British Association of Numismatic Societies Congresses with his characteristic enthusiasm. Chris died on 2nd February 2019 aged 74.
Chris entered the world of marine insurance as a chartered average adjuster in 1963 and rapidly became very well respected in his field. Chris married Rita in 1971 and they went on to have two children, Matt and Franki. Chris loved music, with tastes ranging from traditional country and western to early rock ‘n’ roll. He was an accomplished singer and guitar player and during the 1960s and 70s performed in London bars and clubs. Chris recorded three albums of old-time country music produced by a German record label, leading to him and his music partner conducting a tour of German folk festivals in the mid-1970s.
Chris’s interest in coins began in the summer of 1957 when, at the age of 12, he had a chance encounter with a 1568 Elizabeth I sixpence he saw in a shop window while on holiday in Swanage. Successfully persuading his parents of the benefits of paying over eight shillings for a sixpence, this coin became the foundation of the collection now being presented for sale by St James’s Auctions.
A passionate numismatist, Chris researched his subject meticulously and went on to produce The Hammered Silver Coins Produced at the Tower Mint during the Reign of Elizabeth I in partnership with I. D. Brown and W. Wilkinson that has become a recognised reference document for the silver coinage of Elizabeth I. His talks on subjects such as The Pattern Shillings of Elizabeth I, The Trade Coinage of Elizabeth I and The Irish Harp coinages of Henry VIII were a highlight of the numismatic circuit. These talks were renowned for their accuracy and detail and were complemented by the display of the actual, often unique, examples of the coins described, brought from his own collection.
Chris was devoted to his wife and family and loved spending time with his children and four grandchildren. Chris will be remembered by all who knew him for his generosity, unassuming manner, sense of humour, vast numismatic knowledge and his notoriously extravagant waistcoats.
In this series of auctions, Chris’s family and St James’s Auctions are proud to present the fi nest collection of Elizabeth I coins and related Tudor pieces ever formed.
For more information, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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