Specialist London coins and medals auctioneers Morton & Eden are proud to announce that they have been selected to sell coins from the vast and magnificent Archer M. Huntington Collection.


The sale of important Portuguese and Portuguese Colonial coins from the collection, a fascinating group of some 500 pieces expected to raise around £500,000, will be held in London on Tuesday November 13.


This will be followed early next year by the sale of Huntington’s equally important Spanish Colonial coins numbering almost 1,500 items, details of which will be announced later.


The Huntington Collection of Hispanic Coins – a vast group of 37,895 pieces which nevertheless represented just a tiny part of Huntington’s holdings relating to the Spanish World – was recently sold en bloc to benefit the Hispanic Society of America (HSA).


Many significant and academically important pieces have been acquired on behalf of the American Numismatic Society (ANS), to which they had formerly been loaned for many years. The Morton & Eden sales of Portuguese and Colonial material, however, offer collectors at all levels a really rare opportunity to bid for items of impeccable pedigree and provenance.


Leading the Portuguese group of coins is a beautiful and unique variety of the excessively rare half dobra pe terra from the Lisbon mint, dating from the reign of Fernando I “the Handsome” (1367-1383) who is seen on the obverse, wearing armour and holding a sword and shield. The coin is estimated at £120,000-150,000 [Lot 3].


A dobra dating from the same period, also from the Lisbon mint and bearing a similar mediaeval portrait, is estimated at £100,000-120,000 [Lot 2] while a gold morabitino, circa 1200, from the reign of Sancho I “the Populator”, shows the king on horseback galloping right. It is estimated at £10,000-15,000 [Lot 1].


Another highlight is the fourth known example of a silver real (tornês) undated, but struck in Santarém in circa 1384 for Beatriz, “ The Pretender” (1383-85),whose bust is crowned and draped. The coin is estimated at £80,000-100,000 (Lot 65].


Beatriz was the only surviving child of Ferdinand I, following the death of her two elder brothers. She married John I of Castile in May 1383, at the tender age of 11. Her father, King Ferdinand, died in October of 1383 and Beatriz’s mother was controversially proclaimed Regent. John I of Castile invaded Portugal in December 1383 with the aim of claiming the crown of Portugal in his wife’s name, leading to the war of 1383-5. Castile was eventually defeated, and John of Aviz became King of Portugal.


Historians are still divided over whether or not Beatriz was correctly a reigning monarch, and she is usually known as ‘Pretender’. Throughout John of Castile’s lifetime he and Beatriz continued to use the titles King and Queen of Portugal. Beatriz died in Castile in 1410.


Estimates for coins elsewhere in the collection start in the low hundreds of pounds.


Archer Milton Huntington was born on March 10, 1870, in New York City, inheriting his great wealth from his stepfather Collis P. Huntington, who built a vast railroad empire.


Archer was a scholarly collector and a major benefactor with the financial resources of an industrial magnate. His lifelong passion for Hispanic history, art and culture culminated in his foundation of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City.


He was also a major benefactor of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Numismatic Society, donating land and funds so they could both be adjacent to the Hispanic Society at the Beaux Arts Audubon Terrace complex in New York’s Washington Heights.


In 1932, he founded the Brookgreen Gardens sculpture centre in South Carolina; and the Mariners’ Museum, which is one of the largest maritime museums in the world, in Newport News, Virginia, a new independent city that was established in the late 19th century, largely though the efforts of his stepfather.


About Morton & Eden Ltd

Morton & Eden are specialist auctioneers of Collectors’ Coins of all periods and types, War Medals, Orders and Decorations, Historical Medals and Banknotes.  The company was founded in 2001 by James Morton and Tom Eden, who were both directors of the Coins and Medals Department at Sotheby’s, with whom the company maintains a close association.


For further information, please contact James Morton, telephone  +44 (0)20 7495 6325 or[email protected].

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