Oliver Cromwell gold coin sells for world record £471k at auction

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image copyrightDix Noonan Webb
image captionThe 50 shilling coin dates from 1656 and features Oliver Cromwell

A rare gold coin depicting a portrait of Oliver Cromwell has sold for a world record £471,200 at auction.

The 50 shilling piece, dating back to 1656, is one of only 12 in existence, auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb said.

It was described as "extremely fine and rare" and had an estimate of £100,000 to £150,000 before going under the hammer.

The coin was part of the collection of American-born Marvin Lessen, who later moved to Scarborough.

Peter Preston-Morley, of Dix Noonan Webb, said the price was a record for a Cromwellian coin.

He added: "This is the best collection of Cromwellania to come onto the market in modern times, many of the pieces were either unique or the only one outside an institution."

Mr Lessen's collection had made a total of almost £2.3m in four separate sales held over the last four years, he added.

The coin was bought by an American buyer, said the firm.

Mr Lessen was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1934 but had moved to Scarborough by 1962.

Already a collector of coins, armour and stamps the move to the UK led to him collecting British coins and he became well-known to coin dealers.

The coin dates from 1656 and was made by Thomas Simon, who was Cromwell's chief engraver.

Cromwell helped the Parliamentarian forces defeat Charles I during the Civil War, which resulted in the monarch being tried and beheaded.

He was one of the signatories on the king's death warrant and ruled as Lord Protector until his death in 1658.

The price of £471,200 includes a buyer's premium on the hammer price of £380,000, the auctioneers said.

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