by Hadrien Rambach
A barrister, Sir Edward Bunbury, Bart., Member of Parliament, had an active role at the Numismatic Society of London: he joined in 1853, was part of its council 1876-1879, 1880-1881 and 1882-1884, and was its vice-president 1881-1882. He gave several lectures on Greek coins (in 1865, 1868, 1869, 1881 and 1883). During his lifetime, Bunbury sold some Ancient coins as “a collector” on 22-23 March 1850, and as “a well-known collector” on 27 March 1854. After his death on 5 March 1895, his coins were sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, on 10-14 June 1895, on 15-23 June 1896 and on 7-12 December 1896.
To quote Sotheby’s preface: “It is pre-eminently the collection of a scholar, and the useful purpose which it served is clearly illustrated by the late owner’s numerous literary works. In fact it may be said to have formed the basis of his scholarly ‘History of ancient geography’ published in 1879, his numerous articles in ‘Smith’s dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology’, and the corresponding volumes of ‘Geography’, and his many contributions to the pages of the ‘Numismatic Chronicle’”. Indeed, he was scholarly enough to dare to contest the existing classification of Seleucid coins, changing the attribution of some coins from Antiochus Hierax to Antiochus III.
As an anecdote, it must be noted that his great-grandfather, the sixth Baronet, “accompanied the Earl of Derby at the first running of a new horse-race on Epsom Downs in 1779, and he and the Earl, resolving that the race should become an annual event, tossed a coin to decide its name. If the coin had fallen differently the race, continuously run at Epsom racecourse on the first Saturday of June would now be called the Bunbury and not the Derby”.
- Harrington Manville, Biographical dictionary of British and Irish numismatics, London 2009, p. 45; John Spring, Ancient Coins Auction Catalogues 1880-1980, London 2009, p. 297.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 91: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part I, Zurich, 23 May 2016, pp. -.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 99: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part II, Zurich, 29 May 2017, pp. 47-63.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 105: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part III, Zurich, 9 May 2018, pp. 82-105.
This article was first published in a catalogue of auction house Numismatica Ars Classica.