The Lennart Philipson Collection of Swedish coinage, one of the anchor consignments at our upcoming January 2016 NYINC auction, represents a near lifetime achievement dedicated to the memory of Thor Bäckström, the grandfather of Mr. Philipson. As is so often the case with numismatics, Thor Bäckström’s avid interest in coins served as the inspiration for a collection that eventually blossomed into a comprehensive type set dating from the 16th century forward.
Like nearly all great collections, the Lennart Philipson Collection began with a single humble coin: a Gustav Wasa dated 1543 Riksdaler with multiple impairments. As the depth and sophistication of the collection progressed, so too did the quality and desirability of the pieces, with many subsequent additions representing the finest known example for the issue. Nowhere is this more evident than with lot 40006, a 1561 dated Half Riksdaler, graded and authenticated by NGC.
Extremely rare (only three known examples are extant), and from the reign of the mentally unstable King Erik XIV, the coin carries with it a story of 16th century intrigue. After failed marriage proposals to future Queen Elizabeth I of England, Mary Queen of Scots, Renate of Lorraine, Anna of Saxony and Christine of Hesse, the king’s romantic frustrations became redirected at the Swedish nobility. His fate was finally sealed upon dethronement, and Eric XIV was then held captive within various castles in both Sweden and Finland. He eventually died in Örbyhus Castle in 1577, and according to folklore, his final meal consisted of a poisoned bowl of pea soup. (An exhumation in 1958 confirmed the king died of arsenic poisoning).
Only a few 1561 Half Riksdalers are known (not to be confused with the full Riksdaler which, while scarce, is at least obtainable). Missing from both the Karl Gustaf and the Julius Hagander collections, the rarity of this piece cannot be overstated. The coin exhibits lightly cleaned Almost Uncirculated details, with gunmetal blue toning splashed across areas of the obverse fields. Well centered and nicely struck, of superior manufacture when made and retaining these same characteristics overall, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a highly desirable rarity.
Other extraordinary offerings from the dedicated Live Session (comprising the top 100 coins from the collection) include lot 40041, a gold Ducat dated 1677 from the reign of Karl XI. With a mintage of 13,879 pieces, the coin was never common, and according to Hyllengren and Gluck, authors of Årtalsförteckning Svenska Mynt Värderingspriser (1977), only one piece is known to be in private hands, presumably referring to the piece offered. There is one additional example housed within a museum collection. The example in our January sale is well struck with attractive light golden toning, and features a highly distinguished pedigree -- a piece of incomparable importance and desirability.
As is true of most comprehensive collections, there are Philipson coins within the reach of those having more modest resources. With over 50 pieces included in the Internet Only Session, there are a variety of opportunities to acquire a coin from this highly esteemed collection. Crown sized silver, siege related klippe coinage, and multiple offerings in gold encompass five centuries of Swedish numismatics, with a smorgasbord of offerings sure to appeal to nearly everyone.
Look for these and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming January New York International Auction. For further details on lot viewing prior to the sale, please refer to the Events Calendar link at www.StacksBowers.com. Though our Stack’s Bowers January New York International Auction (NYINC) is no longer open for consignments, we are accepting world and ancient coin submissions for our August 2016 ANA Auction as well as Chinese and Asian coins and currency for our April 2016 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors at 1-800-458-4646 or by email at [email protected]