By John Saunders ……
The auction house of Künker sold a Double Rose Noble Piedfort issued by the Hanseatic League city of Kampen for €700,000 plus 20% buyer’s premium for a total of €840,000 (approx. $940,000 USD) on March 22, 2022. Shipment of the coin to the buyer in the United States had to wait several months for the grant of a German export license. Germany requires the granting of such a license for items of significant artistic, historic, and cultural value.
The very rare and valuable Double Rose Noble of Kampen has long been considered the largest and most beautiful of all Dutch medieval hammered gold coins. This particular coin is extra special in that it was a Piedfort. Piedforts are special heavy-weight coins made for presentations to top government officials, leading business people, and other dignitaries. Gold Piedforts are extremely rare, and most that do exist are of double weight. This particular Piedfort striking was not double the normal weight, not triple, but quadruple the normal weight. It is a massive gold piece weighing approximately two ounces.
Collections have long known of the existence of this fantastic coin from a somewhat enigmatic entry in Delmonte’s 1964 classic book on gold coins of the Netherlands. The catalogue listed a unique striking of the Double Rose Noble weighing 61 grams (approx. two ounces) resting in a coin collection in the United States. Unlike the usual practice, where Delmonte gave the location of a very rare coin, this entry did not provide the name of the Collector who held this coin.
The story of how this coin came to rest in an American Coin Collection in the first place is actually a grand tale. The German coin dealer Felix Schlessinger and his family moved to the Netherlands just before the start of World War II to escape prosecution by the Nazis. However, this respite did not last long, as the Nazis invaded and conquered the Netherlands. Felix Schlessinger and his wife Hedwig were hauled away to the Auschwitz concentration camp and murdered on October 25, 1944. Their coins were seized. However, his son Max Schlessinger got away and eventually reached America in a hair-raising journey through Portugal, Casablanca, and other international locations.
The story of the coin next picks up when Jacques Schulman, another Dutch coin dealer, acquires it from a jeweler who must have bought it from the Nazi invaders. Schulman then buries the coin for the duration of the war. After the war, Schulman returned the coin to Schlessinger (after some back and forth as to how much he was to be paid for his expenses and trouble), who had changed his name to Mark Salton after arriving in the United States. Salton kept this coin for the rest of his life. After his death and the death of his wife Lottie, the estate consigned the coin and the balance of their collection to be sold jointly by the auction houses of Künker and Stack’s Bowers, with this particular coin to be sold in Germany. When the auction catalogue was published, collectors finally knew the location of this coin.
It was purchased by a representative by Schulman BV, for placement in a Southern California collection. It rests with many other coins of the Northern and Southern Netherlands, in one of the most valuable collections of such coins outside of national museums. The collection features many fantastic coins including a gold striking of an 1807 50 Stuiver of Ludwick Napoleon, which came from the private collection of Napoleon’s family.
John Saunders, Schulman BV’s American partner is proud to announce the return of this coin to the United States where it had resided for 70 years before its journey to Germany to be auctioned.