William Barrett's phenomenal collection of rare British Indian coins - in his own words

As we've reported, Baldwin's auction 71 of Indian and Islamic coins has many highlights, including many from Yashoda Singh's collection. But some of the most extraordinary highlights come from William Barrett's assemblage.

Here, he explains how he came to own the collection, and why he feels it is time to pass on his beloved coins:

"During the spring of 1965 I acquired from an estate a collection of British Colonial and Empire coins. While I had sold off my Canadian collections a year or two earlier in order to collect British world coinage, this was the foundation of my collection as well as of my stock.

"In this collection were examples of British Indian coinages, some of which have remained with me to this day. To these were later added numerous proofs and patterns, most often acquired through courtesy of Andre de Clermont, then at Spink.

Unique 1904 VIP proof set British Empire Indian coin
The half-Rupee piece from the unique 1904 VIP proof set of eight
Together, they are expected to sell for £80,000-120,000 ($185,100)

"My interest in British India was rewarded with the privilege of a correspondence and (minor) collaboration with Major Fred Pridmore during the 1970s, even sleeping on his sofa in Taunton when we talked past the last train.

"Perusing his volumes in cataloguing these lots reminds me what a formidable and determined intellect the collecting fraternity lost in 1981 - fortunately with the greater part of his life's work in print or nearly so.

"The parallel collection of British India classic bank notes (issued prior to 1861) commenced in 1971 and is still with me. Fortunately through the fine efforts of Shailendra Bhandare and Kishore Jhunjunwalla some of these have been published and the information disseminated accordingly.

"As my good wife informs me, I have too many coins and banknotes, and as the Indian market is now - how can I phrase it? - showing faint stirrings of life, it seems time to move these into new hands.

Indian rare coin Patrick Brindley
A 1 Anna coin from a never-circulated set of eight created in 1949
by Patrick Brindley - they are listed at £100,000-150,000 ($231,400)

"Through the medium of Ian Goldbart, Edward Baldwin and Seth Freeman, together with their team at Baldwin's the special coins are now being offered.

"I can confirm there remain only a couple of duplicates, a handful of medals, a holding of state coinage (none remarkable), and whatever little else has not yet surfaced. And as I have never managed to throw out any of my collecting records, if requested and with patience I expect to be able to locate the original acquisition documents for many of the pieces offered."


Baldwin's auction takes place on September 29 in London.


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