Auction Watch: Lars Emil Bruun Coin Collection on Sale After 100 Years 

Last month, a pretty unique coin collection hit the auction block. Lars Emil Bruun, a Danish butter magnate, was not only a successful businessman but also an avid coin collector.

His impressive collection, amassed over a lifetime, is set to go under the hammer nearly 100 years after his death. This auction offers a unique glimpse into a meticulously curated collection that holds immense historical and cultural value. 

For numismatists, this is all pretty exciting stuff.  

Here’s the breakdown: 

TL;DR: Who Was Lars Emil Bruun and Why is His Collection Interesting?

Who A collection belonging to Lars Emil Bruun, a Danish butter magnate. What: A massive 20,000-piece collection of coins, medals, tokens, and banknotes from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.   
When:  The auction will begin this fall (around September-November 2024) and will be spread out over several sales in the coming years. 
Where:  The auction will be held by Stack’s Bowers, a New York-based coin auction house. 
Expected Earnings  The entire collection could fetch close to £60 million (US$72 million). Individual coins are estimated to range from £40 to a staggering £800,000. 

Who Was Lars Emil Bruun? 

Lars Emil Bruun was a prominent Danish figure known primarily for his contributions to the dairy industry. As a butter magnate, he played a significant role in Denmark’s agricultural economy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

However, beyond his business acumen, Bruun was a passionate coin collector, dedicating much of his life to building an extensive and diverse collection. 

Bruun’s interest in coin collecting began at a young age (like somebody else I know). Fascinated by the historical narratives and artistic designs of coins, he saw them as tangible pieces of history. His approach to collecting was methodical and driven by a deep appreciation for the stories each coin told.  

Bruun, who passed away in 1923, stipulated in his will that his extensive coin collection should not be sold until a century after his death. He intended for his collection to potentially replenish the Danish national collection in case it was ever lost to disasters like war or fire. 

Now that a century has passed and the Danish Royal Collection of Coins and Medals remains intact, Bruun’s collection is set to be auctioned, with the proceeds benefiting his descendants. The sale has sparked considerable interest due to its aura of mystery and because it encapsulates centuries of Scandinavian history, highlighting the period when Denmark and Norway were united. 

This collection has remained largely untouched due to Bruun’s unique will, creating a narrative that intrigued only a few outside the numismatic community until now. After the 100-year mark, the National Museum of Denmark was given the first right to purchase specific pieces from the collection, selecting seven rare coins this year. 

What’s in Lars Emil Bruun’s Coin Collection?

Lars Emil Bruun’s coin collection is renowned for its scope and variety. It includes thousands of coins from medieval Europe, making it a comprehensive representation of numismatic history. Among the collection are rare and noteworthy pieces, each with its own unique story and significance. 

Lars Emil Bruun gold coin
Lars emil bruun silver coin

With the coins themselves already snapshots of history and artistic styles, don’t be surprised to see this collection go for some pretty high figures.  

Auction Breakdown 

The forthcoming auction of Bruun’s collection, managed by Stack’s Bowers, a renowned New York-based auction house, encompasses an extensive assortment of Scandinavian numismatic artifacts, encompassing 20,000 pieces from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. 

Scheduled to commence this fall and projected to span across multiple years, the collection’s unveiling is eagerly anticipated. The sheer volume and variety of the coins, medals, tokens, and banknotes highlight Bruun’s lifelong dedication to numismatics, bolstered by his significant wealth which allowed him to pursue such an expansive array of items. 

Bruun’s foresight in sealing his collection for a century following his demise in 1923 reflects a deep commitment to historical preservation and a strategic measure against potential crises, much like the one experienced during World War I.  

The pre-auction activities have already seen Denmark’s National Museum secure several key pieces from the collection, leveraging their right of first refusal to ensure significant artifacts remain accessible for public viewing and research. This move by the museum further testifies to the collection’s historical and cultural value. 

lars emil bruun collection

What Lars Emil Bruun’s Coin Collection Means for Numismatists 

The auction of Lars Emil Bruun’s coin collection is a significant event for numismatics, providing a rare glimpse into Scandinavian and broader European monetary history that enriches academic and cultural understanding.  

It serves as an invaluable educational resource, linking numismatists and historians with tangible examples of past economic systems. By introducing these preserved coins to the market, the auction could influence valuations and interest in similar items, setting new standards for rarity and desirability.  

Additionally, it’s likely to boost public interest in numismatics, emphasizing the importance of coin collecting for historical preservation and scholarship, and potentially transforming collecting practices and market dynamics. 

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