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Research Coins: Feature Auction

CNG 96, Lot: 924. Estimate $750.
Sold for $950. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Valentinian III. AD 425-455. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.48 g, 12h). Ravenna mint. Struck AD 430-445. Rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Valentinian standing facing, holding long cross and Victory on globe, foot on head of human-headed coiled serpent; R-V//COMOB. RIC X 2018-9; Ranieri 96 and 98; Lacam 11; Depeyrot 17/1; DOCLR 841-3; Biaggi 2349. Good VF, toned, traces of deposits, light graffiti on reverse.

From the Bramhall Collection. Ex Robert Bridge Collection (with his ticket).

Robert Bridge (1904-1997) was a gifted linguist – fluent in German, Italian, and French – who found application for his talents in Britain’s secret intelligence service. He spent WWII in military intelligence and after the war became Berlin station chief for MI6. Among his more interesting assignments can be mentioned his interrogation of the infamous Gestapo chief of Rome, Herbert Kappler, who was captured by the British while unsuccessfully trying to seek refuge in the Vatican. Berlin in the immediate postwar period was a focal point for espionage, and in much later years Bridge would privately describe experiences that seem straight out of John le Carré – the secret station office entered through what appeared to be an ordinary shop, late night meetings in a cemetery with an eastern source, and his abiding anger toward one of the “Cambridge Spies” with whom he had worked and whom he blamed for many deaths.

Bridge was also one of the most prominent 20th century English collectors of Byzantine coins, and began collecting in earnest around the 1960s. Many coins from his collection are cited in MIB 1 and 2, and 18 of his coins are illustrated on the plates. In 1990, he donated to the British Museum 274 Byzantine coins previously unrepresented in the national collection (including a solidus of the revolt of Heraclius). Much of his remaining collection was sold in a 1990 Glendining’s sale (catalogued by Baldwin’s), Byzantine Coins from the R.N. Bridge Collection.