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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Summer 2019 Literature Auction, Lot: 81. Estimate $750.
Sold for $1800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

[Gillet, Charles]. The Gillet Collection of Greek Coins. One volume containing 58 plates of high quality scanned photographic images illustrating 1217 exceptional Greek coins. A complete set of these scans from the original photographic record of Gillet’s exceptional collection, thought to be taken by Silvia Hurter prior to the collections dispersal and the only complete record of the collection as a whole. One of very few sets made for private circulation and a superb record of one of the greatest collections of Greek coins of the twentieth century. As new, an exceptionally important record of an unsurpassed collection, very rarely offered. Website shipping rates do not apply.

From the Numismatic Library of a Major North American Dealer.

Charles Gillet (1879–1972) was the son of a prominent French industrialist and came to run the family’s businesses, which became the important chemical firm Rhône-Poulenc. The great wealth he amassed as head of the family gave Gillet the freedom to pursue collecting in a variety of arts, including numismatics. He is perhaps best known today for his particular interest in archaic and classical Greek, though he also had specialized collections of Hellenistic portrait coins, Siculo-Punic coins, Roman gold, and French Gothic coins. It is unknown when he began to collect Greek coins, though he almost certainly began in the 1920’s or shortly thereafter, as he accumulated many of the choice specimens from a variety of the famous collections that came to market at that time, including from Jameson and Bement. Over the subsequent decades, Gillet continued to acquire the finest pieces from the important collections that came on the market, but over time his new acquisitions came primarily though private treaties, with most of these coins already having valuable pedigrees. Gillet was known to have formed his collection with a keen eye for beauty, rarity, and quality. Although he was recognized among the prominent auction houses and major collectors of his time, he always worked anonymously through trusted dealers who acted as his agent. He began selling off parts of his collection as early as the 1950s, but it was not until after his death that his collection became the sole subject of a single auction. This auction, anonymously titled “Griechische Münzen aus der Sammlung eines Kunstfreundes”, is one of the most significant sales of Greek coins to this day. Although featuring only a portion of Gillet’s Greek collection, it was the cremé-de-la-cremé. So outstandingly beautiful were these coins that many had been used by various authors as plate coins in their works. The format of the sale, jointly conducted by Bank Leu and Münzen und Medaillen AG, set a new standard for the layout of premier auction catalogs and a Kunstfreund pedigree is among the most coveted for Greek coins, and significantly increases the value of a particular coin compared to others of its kind