The latest offering from one of the worlds most prolific coin collectors, Åke Lindén, maps the social and numismatic history of modern Europe with coins of the highest rarity including a George I Gold 100-Drachmai, the rarest issue of modern Greece, and one of the finest examples of the 1868 20-Lei Gold Pattern Proof. Held as part of Baldwins
three-day auction schedule, the European part of the collection will be sold in London on Wednesday 7th May 2014.
Dimitri Loulakakis, Director of World Coins at A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd said: This extensive and impressive collection of European coinage is part of a calendar of auctions to be held throughout 2014, presenting Åke Lindéns large-scale collection to the numismatic market. Following the success of his Russian coins, which sold through our New York auction earlier this year, in excess of US$1,000,000, we fully expect that the European collection will be as popular as its Russian counterpart.
Swedish born Åke Lindén found numismatic inspiration from a young age, encouraged by his widely travelled father who brought him coins from every country he visited. Possibly as a result of this, his numismatic interests were wide ranging and eventually he set about amassing his vast collection of every type coin since 1850, from every country in the world. Being the true collector that he was, Åke would consider any coin that was missing from his collection, regardless of the condition. However, when it came to the very rarest items, he did not hesitate to acquire them in top condition at whatever the price.
An extremely fine 1864 Gold 50-Lire, struck in Torino under King Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the most sought after pieces from the collection. With a mintage of only 103, it is by far the rarest one-year type coin of the Italian Kingdom series and is estimated to achieve £50,000-60,000.
This coin was one of the last to be minted before The Kingdom of Italy joined an initiative to unify the countries of Europe under one currency standard, interchangeable across the nations, and called the Latin Monetary Union (LMU), a precursor to the Euro.
Under the reign of its first monarch, King Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy was one of the founding members of the LMU, along with France, Belgium and Switzerland. The standard evolved from the French Franc system introduced by Napoleon, based on the Gold 20-Franc and the Silver Franc, bimetallism.
A new standard weight currency that could be freely exchanged between the four countries soon enticed other European Nations, and in 1868, under the rule of George I, the Kingdom of Greece, along with Spain, entered into the LMU with the first Greek LMU coins minted in 1868. These new coins aligned with the weights of their European counterparts and were minted in France.
The very rarest of all regular issue coins of modern Greece, the George I Gold 100-Drachmai, 1876, was minted in Paris, the same year his daughter, Marie, was born, and was part of the LMU initiative. With a mintage of only 76, the reverse bears the Order of the Saviour, below the royal arms, the oldest and highest decoration awarded by the Modern Greek State. King George I gained territory for Greece throughout the 1870s and re-established her standing as a nation in pre-World War I Europe. A statement of his power, this propaganda coin glorifies the second and longest reigning Monarch in Modern Greek history, who ruled as King for 50 years until his assassination in March 1913. The coin is estimated to sell for £50,000-60,000.
Dimitri Loulakakis, went on to say; The George I 100-Drachmai is a testament to Lindéns dedication to acquiring top quality rarities, it is as close to fleur-de-coin, a perfect coin, as one would ever wish to own. It is a magnificent specimen.
Whilst most of Europe was looking to unite under one currency, Romania fought for independence from Austria and Turkey, something they finally achieved in 1866, under the rule of Carol I.
The provinces, Maramures, Bucovina, Moldova, Crisana, Banat, Transilvania, Moldova, Walachia and Dobrogea, became the principality of Romania and the Leu of 100-Bani minted in 1867, with the Gold 20-Lei added in 1868. Only 100 pieces of the Gold Pattern Proof 20-Lei, 1868 were minted, and in 1875 Carol I ceremonially deposited a quantity into the foundations of his summer house, Peleş Castle, a neo-classical palace he was building in the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. The remaining coins were distributed amongst his friends and dignitaries. This example in the Lindén collection is by far the finest known of the few surviving pieces and is estimated at £40,000-50,000.
The political turbulence of the early 20th century, which culminated in the outbreak of the First World War, brought instability and the imminent collapse of the LMU. Under the rule of Vittorio Emanuele III, himself an avid coin collector, Italy remained neutral to its neighbours. In 1901, still under the LMU, Italy produced the Silver 5-Lire 1901 prooflike coin in Rome, with a mintage of only 114. It was the first coin bearing Vittorios portrait to be produced during his reign and is one of the rarest coins of the Vittorio Emanuele III series. The example offered in the sale is one of the few top quality examples still in existence, and is estimated at £25,000-30,000.
Another rarity in the sale from the Vittorio Emanuele III series is a unique 1908, Bronze 10-Centesimi, struck in Rome. From a mintage of three, this coin is the only example in private hands, the others are in state institutions. It is estimated at £12,000-15,000.
During the First World War Germany faced currency shortages due to an increase in people hoarding coins. At the time the German empire was unified under one coinage system, based on 100-Pfennig to the Mark, with lesser denominations struck in one form for the whole empire, and higher value denominations bearing the head and titles of the local rulers.
From the Kingdom of Saxony, the key coin of the entire Kaiserreich series, a Silver Proof 3-Mark, 1917, was struck under Friedrich August III, King of Saxony. One of the last coins to be minted under Friedrich August III before he voluntarily abdicated the throne on 13th November 1918. The fall of the German Empire, and the collapse of the traditional dynasties in 1918, ended this coinage system. With a mintage of just 100, this celebrated rarity bears the bust of Friedrich the Wise on the obverse, and on the reverse the imperial eagle. It is estimated at £30,000-40,000.
This auction will be held in the CIPFA Conference Centre, 3 Robert Street, London on Wednesday 7th May. Baldwins three-day auction schedule will include The Hemisphere Collection of Gold Sovereigns, Part II of the Arielle Collection and the European and Indian coins from the collection of numismatist Åke Lindén.