British Coins from the Collection of Dr George de Bruin

British Coins from the Collection of Dr George de Bruin

Dr George de Bruin

George de Bruin was born and grew up in the Eastern Transvaal town of Ermelo, South Africa, near the Swaziland border. He comes from a medical family and his father was in general practice in Ermelo for his whole professional life. George started collecting coins as a schoolboy by screening cash registers of the shops in town. Another ritual was to go to the different church offices on a Monday afternoon to check the offerings of the previous day. In the 1950s, before decimalisation and changing from pound to rand, it was not uncommon to find Kruger and Victoria coins in the trays.

George decided to follow in his father's footsteps and, after completing a medical degree, he qualified as a pathologist. After a couple of years of an academic career, he joined a private pathology laboratory and has practiced there ever since. Then in 1966 a report appeared in a newspaper which made a lasting impression on him. Two divers discovered a British East India company shipwreck. It was followed by other shipwreck discoveries, mainly early Portuguese, later Dutch and British. The divers realised the particular value to South Africans of the finds and decided to give their countrymen the chance to possess something unusual in the annals of the history of their country.

George attended his first auction in 1972 and a passion grew in him to capture the early numismatic history of the Cape of Good Hope. As the Cape lacked a local currency, so locals would conclude many deals with strangers on passing ships calling at Cape Town, making them experienced money changers. Ships from Europe had to sail around the Cape of Storms to be able to trade with the East, but the combination of a treacherous coastline and violent storms was responsible for some 2,000 sailing ships ending up as shipwrecks around the coast.

A pathologist and microscopist, George has a collection of microscopes and is a member of the International Scientific Instrument Society. He is also a steam enthusiast and is involved in railway preservation schemes in South Africa. Now nearing retirement, he has decided to scale down his coin collection to enable him to concentrate on shipwrecks and shipwreck coins, especially those with a South African connection. It is his fervent wish that his coins will pass into the hands of collectors who will derive the same enjoyment from them that he has had over the years.