Stacks Bowers Galleries Announces Part I of the L. E. Bruun Collection of Scandinavian Coinage

Author: Stack’s Bowers Galleries / May 23, 2024

The world’s most valuable collection of international coins ever to be sold

Featuring nearly 300 coins worth more than US$10,000,000

Stack’s Bowers Galleries proudly announces auction details for Part I of the L. E. Bruun Collection, the world’s finest private collection of Scandinavian coinage, which has been insured for 500 million Danish kroner (about US$72.5 million). This inaugural auction will be held September 14, 2024 at Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Nearly 300 gold and silver rarities from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, will be featured in this debut offering from Bruun’s 20,000-piece collection. The coins to be offered stretch from the late 15th century to within a few years of Bruun’s death in the early 20th century, and are valued at over US$10 million.

Beginning in the late 19th century, Lars Emil Bruun, better known as L. E. Bruun, amassed his fortune from the sale and export of countless millions of tins of world-renowned Danish butter. He invested some of that fortune in real estate on the outskirts of Copenhagen, which saw a marked rise in value as the population of Copenhagen tripled from 1890 and 1920. These business successes allowed him to expand the modest coin collection he had begun as a boy in the 1850s into the world’s greatest private collection of the coins, medals and paper money of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. When the final coin from the Bruun Collection has been auctioned off, this cabinet will stand as the most valuable collection of international coins ever to have been sold.

Bruun, who passed away on November 21, 1923, left behind not only an impressive estate, but also an unusual destiny for his coin collection. Having seen the destruction wreaked by World War I, and keenly aware that the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807 had destroyed nearly the entirety of the Danish capital, L. E. Bruun formulated a unique and innovative will and testament: his collection of over 20,000 coins, medals, tokens, and notes would be held as a reserve for the Royal Danish Coin and Medal Collection for a period of 100 years after his death. If the Royal Collection was damaged or stolen during that century, the L. E. Bruun Collection would become a gift to the Danish state. But if the Royal Collection remained intact, the collection would be sold at auction, with the proceeds benefitting Bruun’s direct descendants. On November 21, 2023, that 100-year waiting period ran out, and with the Royal Danish Coin and Medal Collection intact, L. E. Bruun’s fantastic collection of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish numismatics became destined for the auction block. Stack’s Bowers Galleries will bring the collection to market through several public auctions over the coming years, beginning September 14, 2024 in Bruun’s native Copenhagen.

The inaugural Bruun auction has been curated to include a balanced array of history, quality, and rarity. “Hands-down my favorite piece in the sale is the 1496 gold noble of King Hans, who was king of Denmark and Norway under the Kalmar Union, as well as Sweden for a brief time. It is important on so many levels—it’s the very first gold coin struck by Denmark, it’s the very first dated coin struck by the Danish kingdom, and it’s unique in private hands,” commented Matt Orsini, Director of World and Ancient Numismatics at Stack’s Bowers Galleries. He continued, “Many large gold coins from this era have been melted down over the centuries or have been damaged from use in jewelry. This one is quite pristine and has been assigned a grade of About Uncriculated-55 – on a scale that goes to 70 – by Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC). Everyone is going to want to own this prize, so I would not be surprised to see it sell for US$1 million or more on auction night.”

“Large gold coins are genuinely rare in Scandinavia, but the discovery of a huge silver deposit at Kongsberg in Norway in 1623 meant that domestically mined silver could be used to produce quantities of speciedalers, large silver coins about one ounce in weight and 1.5 inches in diameter. Norway minted speciedalers continuously from the 1620s through the 19th century, occasionally making examples of double, triple, or even quadruple weight,” commented Vicken Yegparian, Vice President of Numismatics at Stack’s Bowers Galleries. He added: “In 1661, a very special double speciedaler was minted to commemorate the Norwegians swearing allegiance to King Frederick III of Denmark, which occurred on August 15, 1661 in Akershus Castle at Christiania (Oslo).  The reverse of the coin depicts a clearly recognizable bird’s eye view of the castle and fortress, which still stands today.  Graded About Uncirculated-58 by NGC, Bruun’s is the only privately owned specimen. It’s an absolute trophy among his Norwegian coins and will be contested by collectors the world over seeking to add this historic, beautiful, and unique coin to their cabinets.”

These are just two of the nearly 300 diverse coins offered in Part I of the Bruun Collection, with select highlights to be exhibited at coin fairs around the globe in the months leading up to the auction. The entirety of PartI will be on exhibition in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ California and New York City galleries, at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, Illinois, and in the firm’s Hong Kong gallery before going on display in Copenhagen immediately preceding the September 14 auction. Please visit www.StacksBowers.com/the-L-E-Bruun-Collection for additional information and to view a full online preview of the auction after June 1. For catalog requests or inquiries about the Bruun auctions, telephone +1 949.253.0916 or email info@StacksBowers.com.

About Stack’s Bowers Galleries

Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s nearly 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. 

The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, with galleries in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Sacramento, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris and Vancouver. Stack’s Bowers Galleries hosts an annual Global Showcase in August featuring United States coins and currency, Ancient coins and World coins and currency in its Costa Mesa auction gallery. They are also the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic events, including the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, the Spring and Fall Hong Kong shows, and the Maastricht Paper Money Shows. 

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