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The sale of the Marshall Collection had all the hallmarks that made considerable success easily predictable. The collection was formed in the middle of the last century and only the finest or more interesting coins were purchased.

Many of the prices of the 1940s and 50s are indicated in the catalogue, but before one becomes too envious, it is well to remember that people lived moderately well on an annual wage of £500.

It was a long day, 778 lots makes for that, and there was scarcely any let-up in the excitement. The final score was £626,750.

Some wag once said that with the exception of palaeoliths there was nothing so boring as Anglo-Saxon pennies. Well, up to a point, yes. To dispel this notion, consider one of the most photogenic of the Anglo-Saxon series, a silver penny of the Wessex king Edward the Elder, immediate successor to Alfred the Great (899-924). The phytomorphic design of the reverse is surely a miracle of early English art. In reality it is some 20mm in diameter. Estimated at £3000-4000, it soared to £9600. In 1942 Marshall paid Spink’s the then magnificent sum of £50 for it.

One of the more interesting offerings in this sale is the groat ascribed to the ill-fated (he was executed in 1499) rebel Perkin Warbeck. It bears the inscription of the writing on the wall at Balthashar’s feast: Mene tekel phares. It seems that there are only about ten examples known. In 1942 Marshall paid Spink £40 and another made £18 at Glendinings in 1956 – that is all I can trace back to 1886. Estimate: £1500-2000 – why not. Opening bid: £2200. It made £4200.

One of the best numismatic portraits – and there are many – is on the pattern shilling in this sale. Marshall paid £15 for it in 1942. This was estimated at £4000-5000. It made £13,500 but it did have a provenance going back to the Brown sale in Covent Garden in 1791. The only other example (inferior) recorded over the last century or more was sold by Spink’s in 1985 for £620.

A quick trip across the border takes us to one of the rarest coins of the Scottish series. This is the pattern James VI (I of England) 16 shillings of which only about a dozen are known to exist. Exactly 60 years ago Mar-shall paid £35 for it. This time out it was estimated at £4000-5000. It realised £8000.

We must now return to England for our final glimpse of this market.

William Wyon’s 1817 silver pattern crown for George III is considered one of the masterpieces of the English series. There was one in this sale for which Marshall paid £20 in 1942. On this occasion the estimate was £4000-5000. It made £8000.

Yes, this section of the market is indeed buoyant.