Century in the making: Danish industrialist’s prized collection set for auction

After a century-long anticipation, the remarkable collection amassed by Danish industrialist Lars Emil Bruun (1852-1923) is primed for a historic unveiling. Stack’s Bowers Galleries will oversee the unveiling of this treasure trove, encompassing coins, medals, banknotes, and books, in a series of auctions slated over several years, commencing in the fall of 2024.


Bruun, a prosperous Danish butter merchant, meticulously curated this collection, starting in the 1850s as a young enthusiast and continuing through the decades. Unlike the dispersed collections of his contemporaries, Bruun’s assembly remained intact, owing to the peculiar stipulations of his will. Safeguarded as a reserve for the Royal Danish Coin and Medal Collection, Bruun’s legacy found sanctuary within the halls of Frederiksborg Castle and later the Danmarks Nationalbank in Copenhagen.

For the past century, nearly 20,000 meticulously arranged items, housed within bespoke cabinets reminiscent of Bruun’s era, have remained under wraps in a secure location, insured for a staggering 500 million Danish kroner (approximately USD 72,550,000). As the collection emerges from its century-long dormancy, it promises to captivate the world as the most valuable assemblage of world coins and medals ever to grace the auction block.

Bruun’s profound concern for preserving cultural heritage, spurred by the devastation of World War I, shaped his testamentary directives. His will dictated that the collection serve as a reserve for the national collection for a century, safeguarding against potential destruction. With the stipulated century elapsed and the national collection intact, the time has come for Bruun’s collection to be dispersed as per his wishes.

The monumental event transpired on November 21, 2023, marking the release of nearly 20,000 coins, medals, and currency pieces encompassing Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish realms, alongside medieval coins harking back to Danish rule in England.

Henrik Holt Christensen, Senior Director of Consignments at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, expressed his elation at being entrusted with this historic responsibility. He noted the collection’s diversity and quality, offering a comprehensive narrative of Scandinavian monetary evolution.

Bruun’s pursuit of the world’s greatest collection of Scandinavian coinage demanded not only passion and dedication but also substantial financial resources, derived from his thriving butter enterprise and astute real estate ventures. His legacy is a testament to his enduring commitment to numismatics, evident in the meticulous assembly of his collection over decades.

Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, underscored the honor bestowed upon the auction house in handling Bruun’s numismatic legacy. With their renowned expertise and global reach, Stack’s Bowers Galleries is poised to elevate Bruun’s name among the pantheon of eminent coin collectors.

For enthusiasts and collectors alike, the forthcoming auctions herald an unprecedented opportunity to witness the culmination of Bruun’s century-long endeavor. Further details regarding the auction schedule and global exhibitions featuring the L. E. Bruun Collection will be available on the Stack’s Bowers Galleries website.


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