Back in the early 1980's I was given a list of what was thought to be at that time the fifty most important auctions of English coins. For the life of me I can not remember who put together the list. If anyone who reads this thinks that they know please contact me so that I can give proper credit to that person. In the mean time I think that it is important that this list be available.
Before I uploaded this page I asked a friend to look it over. He made the comment that there were probably many auctions since this list was put together that would be of use to collectors. I totally agree with him. It caused me to think anew about this list of auctions. In my very humble opinion I think that there has been a big change in the way coins have been bought and sold in the last twenty years or so, at least in that part of the hobby that I frequent and that is English hammered. Now keep in mind that this is biased by the fact that I have never lived near a large city or market that had any dealers of interest to me. What I have noticed is that it is much more common place now for coins to be auctioned, whether by mail bid, electronic or live, than it was when I first started. By more common I mean that it is more common for ordinary collectors such as myself to be buying at auction. If I remember correctly when I first started in this area the auctions of hammered coins was done by a few firms, Sotheby, Christies, and Glendining being the big three with a smattering of a few others. My first dealings with CNG was before it was CNG and before they had any auctions and now they are one of the most major dealers and sell almost exclusively by auction. So indeed there are today many auctions whose catalogues would be of great use to collectors. Also these auctions are from a time when there were truly great collections assembled by individuals. Those who collected hammered were far fewer in number than today. When those great collections were sold it was almost always at auction. I can think of one great collection that was not and that was the Duke of Argyl collection, although there were probably others that I am unaware of.
Another event that has happened that has had an effect on this list is the publishing of the Sylloge series. Most collectors would only be able to get a good look at coins and varieties by looking at auction catalogues. With the advent of the Sylloge series this has had the effect of opening up the coin cabinets of many museums around the world to collectors and researchers.
With the greater use of auctions and the Sylloge series there have been released to collectors a far greater corpus of images and descriptions for collectors and researchers to use. So keep in mind when looking at and using this list it was made when collectors had a far more restricted body of coin photographs to look at and study from. Perhaps the better title would be "The Fifty Most Important Collections" as that is really what the list is.
Since I was given this list, there have been several auctions that I think should be added. Two that come to mind are the Norweb and Stack collections. If anyone has any other candidates to add please contact me. I will make a section for auctions since 1980 that are truly important collections. Likewise if anyone has copies of any of these auction catalogues for sale I would be most interested in hearing from you.
Each auction is listed alphabetically by the name of the collection. Included are the auction house and the date of the auction. There are several auctions that were considered indispensable and they are marked with an asterisk. If you have any questions or comments about this list please contact me.
The Fifty Most Important Auctions of English Coins (1802-1977)
Important Sales Since 1977
| Norman | Plantagenet
| Lancaster | York