Coin collecting is a dear hobby to many, and one of the oldest hobbies practiced by kings and the wealthy. This is why coin collecting is often called the “king of hobbies”.
The reasons for collecting coins are varied: many collect just for fun with no expectation of making a profit. Whereas others see it as a short or long term investment that they hope will increase in value over time.
There are also several collection themes that the collectors focus on, such as:
- collecting coins only from a specific country
- coins from a certain year or period
- metallurgical composition of a certain coins
- coins with specific mint marks
There are millions of coin collectors with unique collections in the world, but in this article we’ll focus on 5 of the world’s most renowned coin collections.
King Farouk of Egypt
King Farouk the First of Egypt, who reigned from 1936 to 1952, owned one of the largest and most important collections in history. The king was known for his lavish lifestyle and spending sprees. He bought most of his approximately 8.500 gold coins and medals in the 1940s. When American coin dealers would frequently travel to Egypt sell King Farouk coins worth thousands of dollars. The collection included a very rare American Gold Minted 1933 double eagle coin and 1913 Liberty Head nickels. The king was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, and his collection was sold at the Palace Collections of Egypt coin auctions in Cairo in 1954 – where many of the coins found their way to other significant collections.
The Norweb Collection
This legendary coin collection was compiled by the Norweb family. R Henry Norweb Sr, his wife Emery May Holden and their son R Henry Norweb Jr. Due to different interests of the three family members the coin collection became very broad in both sources and period. Norweb Jr in particular had a special passion for Brazilian coins. The collection comprised of some legendary coins, such as a Brasher Doubloon (that is now worth millions) and one of the five known 1913 Liberty Head nickels that King Farouk also had in his collection. The family donated these pieces to the American Numismatic Society in 1969.
Harry W. Bass Collection
Harry Wesley Bass Jr made his first coin purchases in the 1960s, already an adult. He got very immersed in the hobby and decided to learn as much as possible about numismatics. Up to his death in 1998 he had acquired a large and very diverse collection of numismatic items, including over 8.000 gold coins. A highlight of the collection is an 1870-s $3 coin. The Bass Collection and the holdings of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation included the most extensive collection of United States gold coins ever formed.
The Eliasberg Collection
Louis E. Eliasberg Sr was an American businessman who actively collected coins from the mid1920s until the late 1970s, sparing no expenses to acquire some of the rarest coins in the world. In numismatics he is best known for being the only person to put together a complete collection of circulating United States coins by date and mint mark, making the collection the most comprehensive U.S. numismatic collection of all time. A highlight of the Eliasberg collection was also a 1913 Liberty Head nickel known as the “Eliasberg Specimen” – it was later auctioned and bought for a respectable US $3 million in 2003.
The John Jay Pittman Collection
John Jay Pittman (1913 – 1996) was a modest worker from North Carolina who made a fortune trading gold and silver coins. He worked hard and saved nearly everything he earned, which he invested in his dear hobby: coin collecting. Pittman was so passionate about coins that in 1954 he and his wife mortgaged their house to be able to afford a trip to Egypt to take part in the King Farouk auction. When Pittman died, just before his 83rd birthday, his collection consisted of more than 12.000 pieces. The 1997 auction of the collection brought in a total of $14.000.000, and the coin that drew the highest bids was an 1833 Half Eagle gold sold for $467.500 – a coin Pittman bought in the Farouk auction for $635.
As you can see, coin collecting can be a great investment, but it is also the history, the beauty, the rarity and the story behind the coin that intrigues collectors.
However, collecting antiques isn’t restricted to coins, but there is a whole range of fascinating pieces with interesting stories. Take a look at our website ScottishSilver.com to see what we offer and maybe add to your personal collection. We can also source and supply any antique silver pieces if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
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