Featured Historic Collections Thread: Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter


    We often say on the forum that we are just temporary custodians of our collections and that someday we will pass them along to future generations of collectors. Many of the coins in our collections, however, have already spent many decades (or more!) in the collections of the past. Sometimes we know nothing of the history of our coins and sometimes we have little more than a name of a past collection from sale listings or old tags. Since it can often be hard to find information on these previous collections and collectors I thought I would start a series of threads that highlight some of my own research as I make progress toward learning more about the old collections that some of my coins once resided in.

    In this thread I would like to highlight the Dr. Walter Neussel Collection.


    Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    My notes on the collection
    • The collection was assembled in Germany starting in the mid-1950s and many of the coins in it were purchased from venues in central Europe. The bulk of the collection was sold in 2017 which means that the collection spans a period of about 63 years.
    • The core collection seems to consist exclusively of Roman coins.
    • Most of the coins in the collection have a documented provenance with many of them quite old.
    • The collection seems to be very deliberately compiled. Many coins in the collection I have seen are interesting in very subtle ways that show the collector(s) had a very discerning eye.
    • A large portion of the collection was sold in November 2017 in Dr. Busso Peus Nachf. Auktion 420.

    I was having trouble finding anything about this collection or the collector online and so I reached out to Dr. Busso Peus Nachf. A representative for the auction house very kindly sent me a biography that was compiled for the auction back in 2017. Since the article was in German I asked for permission to translate it into English and post it here on the forum. I was granted permission to do so and I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Busso Peus Nachf. for the help they provided me in my research. Below is my translation of the biography compiled by Dr. Busso Pues Nachf.

    An article on the beauty and artistic design of Roman coins was published in the magazine "Kristall" in 1954. Inspired by this article, Dr. Walter Neussel senior and, immediately afterwards, his sons* Hans (aged 16 years) and Walter (aged 13 years) began to build their own collection of Roman coins.

    Naturally, the sons' sums, saved from small amounts of pocket money, did not initially make it possible to buy splendid specimens, however, for DM 0.50 to DM 1.0** they were able to acquire a reasonably nice sestertius from the time of the Adoptive Emperors. It was only after Dr. Hans Neussel and Dr. Walter Neussel junior had established themselves professionally that they could afford better pieces. The first purchases were made mostly from the company Julius Jenke in Munich, then also from auctions of the companies Kress, Hirsch, Peus and Button. In the early sixties, beautiful and inexpensive Roman and Alexandrian coins were available mainly from various dealers in Paris. Hans began early on to put emphasis on selecting coins of good preservation for his collection. Often, by careful examination of lots, rare pieces that went unrecognized by other collectors could be added to the collection. In this way, Hans eventually owned more than 15,000 Roman coins, which included a large number of bought-in lot coins. In terms of value, the sons' collections did not initially match their father's. After the death of Dr. Walter Neussel senior, his sons Hans and Walter shared their father’s collection between them.

    Double and less well-preserved coins from the beginning of the collector's activity were retired, and the quality level of the two collections was steadily improved. Shortly before the death of Hans (on Feb. 19, 1993), Walter acquired his entire collection and eventually reduced the total stock significantly. However, it was not only beautiful specimens that were selected for inclusion in the definitive collection because very rare and interesting pieces in less good condition were also included.

    On account of their lower value, under-appreciated Antoniniani of the third century, provincials (especially Alexandrian coins) as well as small bronzes of the 4th century were purchased from dealers and consciously and gladly integrated into the collections of all the collectors, since the subjects of these coins were often very appealing.

    Since the sons of the current collection owner have no particular interest in continuing their father's collecting activity, this outstanding and self-contained collection of Roman coins will be completely auctioned at the direction of Dr. Walter Neussel during his lifetime.


    The Dr. Neussel Collection, which spans more than 60 years of collecting activity, provides a comprehensive overview of Roman coinage from the early republic (including early cast) to the 5th century. Anyone acquiring one or more coins from this collection will be pleased to share in this private collection, built with much love and numismatic knowledge.

    Dr. Walter Neussel (junior) was chief physician of the Department of Anesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine of the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Wittlich and initiator as well as senior physician of the Wittlich Rescue Center, the first in a rural area worldwide (a rescue center is an institution that also provides a rescue helicopter and holds an ambulance). He was director of the "CTT Institute for innovative and environmentally friendly technology in hospitals and rescue services" and is the bearer of the Federal Cross of Honor in Gold and the Order of Merit of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate. In the field of numismatics, Dr. Neussel was the creator of the Experimental Numismatics Working Group ", which has been running successfully for more than 10 years. The current focus of his work is the sponsorship association of the Peter Singer Prize for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals (PSP). Dr. Neussel is the initiator and first chairman of the PSP.

    *the sons became interested in collecting after holding the first Roman coins bought by their father in 1954 from Jenke in Munich

    ** at that time you could already see beautiful small bronzes by Constantinus I and his sons and for DM 5.0

    ** (my note) In 1954 1 Dueutsche Mark (DM) = $4.20. Adjusted for inflation DM 0.50 to DM 1 in 1954 was equal to a range of about $20 to $40 in 2019 dollars.​


    My Example from the Collection

    As with most of the coins from the Dr. Walter Neussel Collection my coin has a documented provenance which in my case dates back to 1998. The coin also came with several tags (possibly another collector?) that I have not yet identified but at least shows how studious Dr. Neussel was in retaining all the information he could from the coins in his collection.

    Roman Empire
    Diocletian, AD 284-350
    AE Antoninianus, Rome mint, 6th officina, struck AD 285-286
    Dia.: 24.73 mm
    Wt.: 3.55 g
    Obv.: IMP DIOCLETIANVS AVG. Diocletian radiate bust right.
    Rev.: IOVI CONSER-VAT AVG. Jupiter standing holding thunder bolt and scepter. XXIZ below.
    Ref.: RIC V:II 161
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection; Auktion GM 92, Lot 365 (Nov. 1998); Dr. Busseo Peus Nachf. Auktion 420, Lot 6051 (Nov. 2017)

    Tag from the Dr. Neussel Collection

    An additional unidentified handwritten tag (post GM 1998 auction?)

    I recently acquired the GM 92 catalog that includes my coin.

    Here is my coin photographed in the Nov. 1998 GM catalog.

    Please feel free to post your coins from the Dr. Walter Neussel Collection. Also please feel free to add any additional information on the collector or the collection that you may know.

    Also feel free to comment or post anything you feel is relevant.
    eparch, randygeki, zumbly and 23 others like this.
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  3. Carausius

    Carausius Brother, can you spare a sestertius?

    I have several coins from this collection, and I went through the same process as you in getting biographical information from Peus. This highlights one downside of internet vs. paper catalogues - much important information that you would read in the intro pages of paper catalogues gets hidden or lost in online bidding venues.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  4. dadams

    dadams Supporter! Supporter

    @Curtisimo that is a wonderfully splendid coin with an added bonus of a nice provenance. Much enjoyed reading about the Drs. Neussel. -d
    Curtisimo likes this.
  5. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Good work and very interesting! I look forward to more.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  6. bcuda

    bcuda Well-Known Member

    Love the write up on the Dr. Neussel collection and your coin.
    it is a shame that none of the sons of Dr. Walter Jr. did not have any interest in Ancient coins.
    Curtisimo and Roman Collector like this.
  7. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Well, call me selfish but whatever coins from my collection I don't sell will literally go in my grave. Which will be somewhere in northern Greenland.

    Yeah yeah, let me be eccentric :)
    Curtisimo likes this.
  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent coin, Curtis! I'm glad you managed to find more information on the Neussel Collection. Thanks for writing it up.

    I love all six coins I managed to pick up from this collection.

    Vespasian - Divus Double Capricorn Neussel 2574.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.06g, 19mm. Rome mint, struck under Titus, AD 80-81. RIC II 357 (Titus); RSC 497. O: DIVVS AVGVSTVS VESPASIANVS, laureate head right. R: Two capricorns back to back, supporting shield inscribed S C set on globe.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    Vespasian - Alexandria Obol Falcon 2595.jpg
    AE Obol. 7.91g, 23.7mm. EGYPT, Alexandria, RY 5 = AD 72/3. RPC 2440; Emmett 222.5; Dattari 415; Milne 430. O: AVTOK KAIΣ ΣEBAO VEΣΠAΣIANOV, laureate bust right. R: Horus falcon (or hawk) wearing sekhmeti crown right; LE in left field.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    Antoninus Pius - Drachm Apollo Miletus 2596.jpg
    AE Drachm. 24.25g, 33.5mm. EGYPT, Alexandria, RY 10 = AD 146/7. RPC Online temp 13590; Emmett 1457; Dattari Savio 8311-12. O: ΑVΤ Κ Τ ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤωΝƐΙΝΟС СƐΒ ƐVС, laureate head right. R: Apollo Didymeus (of Miletus) standing, facing, holding stag and bow, tripod at feet; between the Nemeseis of Smyrna, one on right holding cubit-rule; L ΔƐΚΑΤΟV in exergue.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    Commodus - As Hercules 2575.jpg
    AE As. 10.7g, 24.5mm. Rome mint, AD 192. RIC 644; Cohen 193. O: L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, head of Commodus as Hercules right, wearing lion skin. R: HER-CVL/RO-MAN/AV-GV/S-C in four lines flanking club; all within laurel wreath.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection (acquired from Dr. Busso Peus, 1958)

    Julia Domna - Denarius Caracalla Geta 2576.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.0g, 19.5mm. Rome mint, AD 201. RIC 540; Vagi 1723; BMC 4. O: IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; hair elaborately waved. R: AETERNIT IMPERI, laureate and draped bust of Caracalla right, vis-à-vis bareheaded and draped bust of Geta left.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    Caracalla - Stratonicaea AE36 Geta Damnatio 2594 B.jpg
    AE36. 17.85g, 36.2mm. CARIA, Stratonicaea, circa AD 209-211. Jason, son of Cleobulus, gramatteus. SNG von Aulock 2686; SNG Cop 512. O: Confronted busts of Caracalla right and [Geta – erased as result of damnatio memoriae] left, both laureate, draped, and cuirassed; c/m: ΘEOY within rectangular incuse, head of Minerva right within circular incuse. R: Hekate standing left holding patera and torch; to left, hound standing left, head right.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection
    Ryro, Bing, Johndakerftw and 4 others like this.
  9. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great write up Curtisimo,
    I think you mixed up the conversion rate Deutsch Mark against the USD.
    1 mark was about 25 cents US or 1 USD = 4 mark in 1954.

    I dont think my Diocletian was ever part of that Neussel collection ;)

    Ryro, Roman Collector, Bing and 2 others like this.
  10. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    It's always fun to know something about the person or persons who owned a coin before you :). That's a very nice example of a young Diocletian, @Curtisimo!

    @zumbly, wow... what a remarkable assortment of coins! Jealous :D.
    zumbly and Curtisimo like this.
  11. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks for the nice words everyone.

    @zumbly , those are some fantastic examples and I especially like the Commodus with the 1958 provenance.

    Very good point. Would love to see your ex Dr Neussel Collection examples.
  12. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I have twelve coins that are just such an example. They were a group lot from Stack's in 2013.

    The print catalog and e-catalog have a writeup of one of the collectors whose estate of coins were being auctioned in those sessions. Most of the collection was offered as individual lots but the lesser coins were sold in group lots. In the print/e-catalog, the group lots were noted to be from this collector but that final line of description is not included in the archived ACsearch and Sixbid listings nor was any documentation of the pedigree shipped with the coins. Unless I have the catalog or print out a copy of the lot listing, in the future there may be no way for the next owner to verify the coins' history.

    The bio as it appears in the catalog, which is fortunately available online:

    Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 10.14.57 AM.png

    One of the coins from that group lot:

    EGYPT, Ptolemy III Euergetes
    246-222 BCE
    AE 48 mm, 91.8 gm
    Obv: laureate head of Zeus Ammon right
    Rev: eagle standing left on thunderbolt looking right, wings partly spread, E monogram between eagle's legs
    Ref: Sear 7782, Svoronos 446
    ex Professor James Eaton Collection, acquired in the 1800s
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