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Gold coin of Oliver Cromwell struck in 1656 is to be auctioned for an estimated £150,000

Gold coin of Oliver Cromwell struck in 1656 is to be auctioned for an estimated £150,000

  • 50 shilling piece showing a side-portrait of the Lord Protector was struck in 1656
  • On the reverse is a crowned shield and both sides have Latin on the edges 
  • Coin is believed to be one of only 12 in existence and is to be sold next month 

A 364-year-old gold coin bearing a portrait of Oliver Cromwell is to be auctioned for an estimated £150,000.

The 50 shilling piece showing a side-portrait of the Lord Protector was struck in 1656 by Thomas Simon, Cromwell’s chief engraver.

On the reverse is a crowned shield and both sides have Latin lettered abbreviated legends around their edges.

They translate as ‘Oliver by the Grace of God, Protector of the Republic of England, Scotland and Ireland’ and ‘peace is sought by war’.

This coin is believed to be one of only 12 in existence and is going under the hammer with auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, of London.

A 364-year-old gold coin bearing a portrait of Oliver Cromwell is to be auctioned for an estimated £150,000

Most other examples are in institutions so it is highly unusual for one to come on to the market.

The coin has emerged from the huge collection of American-born Marvin Lessen, who lived in Scarborough, North Yorks.

He joined the British Numismatic Society in 1964 and was well known to London coin dealers.

This is the fourth and final instalment of the sale of his collection which has so far raised just under £1million.

The 50 shilling piece showing a side-portrait of the Lord Protector was struck in 1656 by Thomas Simon, Cromwell chief engraver

The 50 shilling piece showing a side-portrait of the Lord Protector was struck in 1656 by Thomas Simon, Cromwell chief engraver

This coin is believed to be one of only 12 in existence and is going under the hammer with auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, of London

This coin is believed to be one of only 12 in existence and is going under the hammer with auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, of London

Peter Preston-Morley, Head of Department and Associate Director, Dix Noonan Webb, said: ‘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.

‘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 and auctioneers of the day.

‘Marvin Lessen’s 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.

The coin has emerged from the huge collection of American-born Marvin Lessen, who lived in Scarborough, North Yorks

The coin has emerged from the huge collection of American-born Marvin Lessen, who lived in Scarborough, North Yorks

‘The three parts of the collection that have been sold at Dix Noonan Webb so far, have fetched just under £1million, but we feel that we have kept the best to last and this sale truly reflects Mr Lessen’s fascination with the Cromwell era, and particularly the coins of Thomas Simon.’

Cromwell led the Parliament of England’s armies against Charles I during the English Civil War and ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.

Other high value coins in the collection are a 1653-4 Naval Reward medal struck by Simon which is valued at £40,000, and a Lord Protector gold medal from 1655-8 with a £15,000 estimate.

The sale takes place on January 21 

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