The Paul Balla Collection is a true labor of love, assembled with care and connoisseurship, with each Roman Emperor represented by multiple reverse types and portrait styles, several of them quite rare and seldom offered. The first offering from this collection is our first all-ancients Monthly Internet Auction, comprising 303 individual and group lots drawn from the (much larger) Balla Collection, mostly of Roman Imperial silver denarii, but also including several Republican issues and a few later antoniniani (or double-denarii) of the mid-third century CE. Collectors interested in this series will find very little duplication despite the multitude of coins for each ruler.
This auction is open for bidding now and concludes Sunday, June 25.
The collector, Dr. Paul Balla, was quite a fascinating character, born in Ujvide’k, Hungary (now Serbia) in 1893. He studied law and international law at the Universities of Budapest, Berlin, Paris and Bordeaux before the outbreak of World War I, when he entered the Austro-Hungarian army as a first lieutenant. Severely wounded at Doberdo on the Italian front, he returned to combat after recovering. He later served on the Eastern front until captured by the Russians in September 1917; a year later he escaped and was demobilized at the war’s end in November 1918.
After the war, he completed his studies in diplomacy and in 1923 began his career in the Hungarian Foreign Office. He held various positions with responsibilities in the Balkans, the Holy See, and the Hungarian delegation to the League of Nations. He later served closely with Hungarian Prime Ministers Paul Teleki and Nicolas Kallay until Germany invaded Hungary in 1944. In March 1945, he fled west into American-occupied Germany. He and his wife Margit immigrated to Canada in 1953 and to the United States in 1957. From then until his death in December 1961, he taught Latin, French and German at St. Leo College in Florida.
Dr. Balla accumulated most of his collection of Roman silver coins during the 1920s and ’30s during his years of diplomatic service in the Balkans and Italy. Margit Balla assisted in cleaning, identifying and maintaining coins in the collection. At the time of his death, the collection contained 1,894 coins. He acquired much of the collection from local farmers who frequently unearthed buried coins in their fields, requiring careful and painstaking cleaning. With the exception of a relatively few coins, the collection was focused on Roman Imperial silver denarii and some antoniniani.
The collection remained in the possession of Dr. Balla’s daughter, Margit Forizs, until her death in October, 2016. Zala Forizs, Dr. Balla’s grandson and the trustee of the Margit Forizs Trust, is now selling the collection, although he and his sisters, Emese Wood and Reka Viczian, have kept a few coins for their deep sentimental value to the family.
Here are a few highlights from this Monthly auction:
- Julius Caesar, as Dictator (49-44 BC). AR denarius. NGC Choice VF 4/5 – 3/5. Rome, lifetime issue, L. Aemilius Buca, moneyer, February-March 44 BC. RSC 24.
- Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). AR denarius. NGC XF, bankers mark. Lugdunum, 12 BC. RIC 174. RSC 147.
- Vitellius (AD 69), with Lucius Vitellius (died AD 51). AR denarius. NGC Fine 5/5 – 5/5. Rome, July-December AD 69. RIC 77 (R). RSC 3a (Lucius Vitellius).
- Trajan (AD 98-117). AR denarius. NGC AU 5/5 – 4/5. Rome, AD 100. RIC 41. RSC 223.
- Hadrian (AD 117-138). AR denarius. NGC Choice VF 4/5 – 4/5. Travel series, Rome, AD 134-138. RIC II -. RSC 156b corr.
- Pertinax (AD 193). AR denarius. NGC Choice VF 4/5 – 4/5. Rome, 1 January-March AD 193. RIC 8a (R2). RSC 33.
- Geta (AD 209-211). AR denarius. NGC Choice XF. Rome, AD 211. RIC 91. RSC 220.
- Maximinus I (AD 235-238). AR denarius (3.25 gm). NGC MS 4/5 – 5/5. Rome, 237. RIC 5. RSC 64.
Bidding on this auction continues through June 25 exclusively at www.HA.com/coins.