Anglo-Saxon coin collector's trove of 576 items sells for £856,000

Anglo-Saxon coin collector’s unparalleled treasure trove of 576 items sells for £856,000 – including world-record £40,800 for 7th-century King Eadbald gold shilling

  • Tony Abramson started collecting Anglo-Saxon coins aged four, in the 1950s 
  • Later amassed a collection of more than 1,200 pieces, which he is now selling
  • Gold shilling sold for world record £40,800, others auctioned for £100-£30,000 
  • Rest of the collection will be sold by auction house Spink & Son in the autumn

Tony Abramson’s remarkable collection of historic Anglo-Saxon coins has sold at auction for a staggering £856,000

A finance director’s remarkable collection of historic Anglo-Saxon coins has sold at auction for a staggering £856,000.

Tony Abramson, a former president of the Yorkshire Numismatic Society, started collecting coins aged four, in the 1950s.

His passion developed during his teenage years and he went to great lengths to bolster his collection in the decades that followed until it reached 1,200 coins.

The first half of his collection, consisting of 576 coins, was sold by London auctioneers Spink & Son earlier this year, sparking a bidding war.  

The marquee lot was this 7th century gold shilling depicting Eadbald, King of Kent, which fetched a world record £40,800

Tony Abramson started collecting the coins aged four, in the 1950s, and managed to amass 1,200 coins including this Anglo-Saxon gold shilling which sold for £30,000

The first half of his collection, consisting of 576 coins including this Northumbria, Aldfrith, Primary Phase, Sceat, was sold by London auctioneers Spink & Son earlier this year

A coin displaying Bishop Paulinus, the missionary who converted pagan kings to Christianity and later served as the first Bishop of York, went for £30,000, another record price

More than 400 bidders were involved in the online auction which lasted a massive 12 hours because of the high level of interest. 

The marquee lot was a 7th century gold shilling depicting Eadbald, King of Kent, which fetched a world record £40,800.

A coin displaying Bishop Paulinus, the missionary who converted pagan kings to Christianity and later served as the first Bishop of York, went for £30,000, another record price.

A gold shilling of Mellitus, the first Bishop of London, was sold for £34,800.

In total, the collection achieved a hammer price of £714,000, over double the £330,000 pre-sale estimate. With extra fees included, the final price was £856,000. 

Most of the coins, previously housed at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, were found with a metal detector in the last 30-40 years.   

More than 400 bidders took part in the online auction for the coin collection, including this Post-Crondall Types pale gold shilling which sold for £9,000

In total, the collection achieved a hammer price of £714,000, over double the £330,000 pre-sale estimate, helped by this Northumbria coin which sold for £20,400 

The auction house Spink & Son was apparently hit with ‘frenzied online and telephone bidding’ during the sale of the coins, including this Eardwulf Sceat which was bought for £8,400

Gregory Edmund, specialist at Spink & Son, said: ‘A modest pre-sale estimate was easily eclipsed with a thrilling final hammer price reaching more than double of the initial estimate and achieving dozens of world records. 

‘Tony was delighted with the result.’

Edmund said the auction room was hit with ‘frenzied online and telephone bidding’ over the 12 hour period as ‘investors and the trade fought with all their might to share in the spoils of Tony’s extensive cabinet.’ 

He explained Abramson’s collection is unparalleled by any private or museum collection in existence, saying,’this is the most important collection of early Anglo-Saxon coins ever to come to market.’

Gregory Edmund, specialist at Spink & Son, said Abramson’s collection, which included this pale gold shilling sold for £22,800, is unparalleled by any private or museum collection in existence

Edmund said the collection of coins, such as this sceat which sold for £1,320, ‘is the most important collection of early Anglo-Saxon coins ever to come to market’

A gold shilling of Mellitus, the first Bishop of London, from around 630-650 was sold for £34,800

He added: ‘Tony’s work has been pioneering in ‘shining a light’ on the Dark Ages.

‘It shows the shift from pagan to Christian belief evolved in early British mindset as the imagery evolved on the coinage, the language evolved from Runic to Latin, and the concept of kingship came into being.

‘The depth and coverage of the coins enables a picture to be told of virtually every county in England and how fledgling economies developed in the aftermath of the Roman Empire.’ 

The sale of the rest of the collection is due to take place in the autumn. 

Edmund said ‘Tony’s work has been pioneering in ‘shining a light’ on the Dark Ages, with coins from all over Northumbria, including this one which sold for £5,400

The sale of the rest of the collection is due to take place in the autumn with auction house Spink & Son

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