The Michael O’Bee Collection of Coins of the Corieltauvi

The Michael O’Bee Collection of Coins of the Corieltauvi

Michael O’Bee

I was born in Chatham, Kent, in 1955, into what was to become a large family of ten children. We moved to Killingholme, Lincolnshire, in 1958 and I went to school at nearby lmmingham. Leaving there at 16 with no formal qualifications, I attended nautical college and spent a year as a deckhand on trawlers sailing out of Grimsby. From there I trained as a butcher, eventually becoming a shop manager, but after 10 years I took the plunge to become self-employed and, with the backing of my wife Lynne, we bought our own shop. Business soon became brisk and within two years we extended the property to incorporate a bakery; subsequently we built up a portfolio of several rental properties.

I first became interested in Celtic coins when I chanced upon two gentlemen metal detecting in a field near Kirmington, Lincolnshire, in the late 1970s. Their names were Alan Harrison and the late Henry Mossop, DFC. I spent some time walking alongside Alan and was surprised by his reaction when I spotted and picked up a coin from the ground, which he promptly informed me was a broken Celtic silver unit. "These are rare," he said, promptly offering me £50 for it. Such was my introduction to a fascinating world and I soon became a frequent visitor to the Harrison and Mossop homes, at Winterton and Marshchapel.

After researching the local area I had cause to be most grateful to Tom Moore, a landowner and farmer at Cabourne, near Caistor, who let me detect on his land. Over many subsequent years and numerous visits walking up and down his fields, I amassed a large number of Celtic coins. Tom often showed an interest in my finds, but I discovered his interest was far greater in the apple pies and plum bread that my wife used to bake for him. He would invite me into his farmhouse for a drink and we became good friends over the years.

At length I decided to concentrate on the Corieltauvian tribe, as it was local to the area where I live. As I acquired more and more silver coins I became particularly interested in those classed as 'South Ferriby' units -so many different types, some of them extremely rare. Later I turned my attention to the Corieltauvian gold. Henry Mossop introduced me to the late Dr Jeffrey May at Nottingham University, who recorded all my coins, and I have also enjoyed collaborating with Dr Philip de Jersey and Dr John Sills at the Celtic Coin Index in Oxford.

On my 40th birthday I suffered a heart attack-the result of long hours and hard work. Because of it Lynne and I had to bring our plans for the future forward, so in 1998 we semi-retired to our holiday home in Cyprus, handing the collection over to my son James while we both continued to add to it. Three years later we had to return to the UK following a devastating accident in which Lynne broke her back after a fall, leaving her paralysed from the waist down.

Since returning I have bought and exchanged coins in order to build up my collection, which is now the finest and most complete of the Corieltauvi ever put together. It includes the unique Cartivellaunos stater (lot 5241 in this sale), the Daninviliros stater, the finest known examples of the excessively rare Trefoil stater, the Wheel stater and the Dumnocoveros stater, and many other fine pieces. As I write, only six coins remain out of my grasp that would have completed the entire Corieltauvian series known to date.

I trust that the new owners of my coins will derive as much pleasure from them as I have. Despite having taken the decision to part with them, I will continue to write articles on the Corieltauvi and their coins, while caring for Lynne and devoting time to our grandchildren, Chloe (6) and Jamie (2).

Numismatic bibliography of Michael O'Bee to date:
The Second Coin of A TT, SNC April 2002, p.62, reprinted in Chris Rudd FPL 63, June 2002, pp.9-10.
The Third Trefoil Stater, Chris Rudd FPL 68, March 2003, pp.3-4
A Closer Look at the Wheel Type Quarter Stater, SNC June 2006, p.139.
Volisios Daninvilir, SNC October 2006, pp.268-9.
The Wolf Unit, SNC February 2008, p.l0
The Volisios Staters: Daninviliros, Dumnocoveros, Cartivellaunos, Dumnovellaunos, Treasure Hunting, March 2008,