An extremely rare gold coin depicting Queen Elizabeth I has been sold for EUR 700,000 (GBP 585,000) at an auction in Germany, making it the most expensive coin ever auctioned in the country.
Estimated at just EUR 250,000 (GBP 209,000) by experts at the Kuenker Auction House, in Osnabrueck, in the north-western German state of Lower Saxony, the gem went for an astonishing EUR 700,000. The highest bidder, who was present in the auction hall during the event, was not identified.
Called ‘Kampener Rosenoble’, the coin measures 44 millimetres (1.73 inches) across and weighs 61 grammes (2.15 oz). Fritz Kuenker, Senior Chief of the auction house, underlined: “Such large gold coins are extremely rare.”
Speaking to the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper, Kuenker explained that the Kampener Rosenoble was one of the largest coins of the early modern period.
The auction company disclosed the astonishing history of the coin. Felix Schlesinger, a Jewish coin dealer born in Mainz in 1879, had bought the object around 90 years ago for GBP 900 from a British merchant.
Jewish coin dealer Jacques Schulmann buried it in a friend’s back garden in Brabant, the Netherlands, to protect it during World War II. Schulmann got hold of it after the SS confiscated it from Schlessinger’s numismatic firm in Berlin.
The SS sold it to a jeweller, who was about to melt it when Schulmann bought it. It was returned to Mark Salton, Felix Schlessinger’s son, six years later. Schlessinger and his wife, Hedwig, died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp, now in Poland, in 1944.
Learning that his parents were dead, Mark Salton, born Max Schlessinger in 1914, moved to the United States to start anew in 1946. His brother, Paul, migrated to Israel. Their father had established his numismatic enterprise in Frankfurt in 1928 before moving to Berlin.
Salton’s last will said his whole collection of coins should be auctioned by Kuenker and Stack’s Bowers Galleries, in New York City, in the United States. He wanted the proceeds to go to charitable organisations focusing on Holocaust commemoration initiatives. Salton had got to know Fritz Kuenker during a coin auction in New York a few days before Christmas in 1985.
Depicted in a seated position between two semi-detached columns, Queen of England and Ireland Elizabeth I (1558-1603) is holding a sceptre in her right hand and an imperial orb in her left.
The previous record for the auction of a coin in Germany was a Russian rouble coin depicting Nicholas I of Russia that was auctioned for EUR 650,000 (GBP 543,000) in February 2012. The auction was held by Kuenker in Berlin. The highest bidder was not identified by the auction company.