Collection of British Coins formed by the late Ronald Hansen

Collection of British Coins formed by the late Ronald Hansen

Ronald James Hansen (1948 - 2012)

Born in Brisbane on 15 January 1948, Ronald Hansen grew up in country Queensland, moving to various places as his father’s work dictated. He achieved his B.Sc. in Geology at the University of Queensland in 1970 (later achieving Hons. in 1972), subsequently pursuing a career in the mining industry.

His early collecting interests were sparked by his exposure to foreign coins brought in by the many migrant workers in the areas of his father’s work, at this time Home Hill (during construction of the Burdekin bridge). This ‘funny money’ from many nations drew him further and further into the world of collecting, and also introduced him to history, geography and global knowledge generally.

A schoolboy interest matured and expanded into a more-than-50-year passion for the hobby. At the age of 14 he began a part-time job in Brisbane as a trainee movie projectionist. With his first pay packet of just £5 5s. he spent nearly all of it, a whole £5 (quite a significant sum in 1960s Australia), on his first major purchase, an Edward VII half-sovereign of 1903 (see Lot 1143). He would later become a life member of the Australian Theatrical & Amusement Employees' Association. During this time he applied himself to furthering his education, studying at night school and ultimately gaining a scholarship to the University of Queensland.

His post-University career took him from a stint in public service in Canberra as a geologist and surveyor, then for the next 35 years to the mining industry where one of his favourite roles was as ‘Project Manager’. As he once humourously explained, “it was a role where no one knew what you were meant to do, which let you do anything you wanted to do”. His reputation, character and abilities would take him to more than a dozen countries in his distinguished and rewarding career, ranging from exploration through to project management of mine construction and development. He worked for some of Australia's most prominent consulting groups on projects in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, India, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Argentina, Pakistan, Philippines and elsewhere, and his numismatic contacts back home got used to receiving telexes with buy orders from wherever Ron happened to be.

He had interests in fishing, sailing, horses, electronics and history, as well as red wine and the occasional cigar. He loved to find out how things worked. However he was perhaps most passionate about his coins. Beginning as it did with modern world coinage generally, his enthusiasm for coin collecting was well entrenched by the time he left University, if undisciplined. Opportunities for broader fields opened up as career opportunities presented themselves. High quality world rarities and, naturally, coins from Australia, New Zealand and other adjacent nations highlighted his early collecting interests.

As his collecting tastes developed he was drawn closer and closer toward British coins, milled coinage specifically. Later again his tastes were directed towards the coins of Ancient Greece and Rome. He was ably assisted by many British and Australian dealers in assembling his collections and, although advice about good discipline was regularly offered, it was rarely and reluctantly accepted, Ron preferring to find his own way.

For many years his focus narrowed toward achieving the goal of an English type set “whatever that meant”, with the inevitable restrictions on what could be put together depending on the availability of material and how precisely one defines the term ‘type set’. By and large it was intended not to include proofs or patterns, concentrating on circulating coinage, though there was always room for exceptions for one reason or another. Quality was one of those reasons, historical importance another, attractiveness being another among other intangibles, and the collection as a whole is generally one of high quality and æsthetics. Special mention should be made of the Cromwell farthing (Lot 1022), the acquisition of which involved the coin travelling three-quarters of the way round the world, the Oxford pound (Lot 1017) and the William IV crown (Lot 1115), each of them favourites for various reasons.

Ron was practical and a great pragmatist, tending to care more about results than form or formality, and even less about who you were or the so-called accepted way of doing things. He was aggrieved by the injustices and hypocrisies of the world, contemplated greater powers, but was determined to not let any of that be an excuse for giving up, or for not trying to find a good and proper way to live. His death occurred on 20 December 2012 at the age of 64.

He did not suffer fools lightly, if at all, and could sometimes be regarded as cranky or grumpy by those who did not know him well. However, he was never intentionally hurtful, treating everyone with an equal and distinct level of respect, courtesy and honesty. Whether you liked his answer or not, you could be certain that whatever his advice or opinion you were going to hear the truth. He had a mischievous sense of humour, testing and teasing friends and family alike. He was a great thinker and liked to deliberate upon and discuss matters important to him. He was inspired to read many works by the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, building a small library for the purpose. The Stoics were among those he preferred, not because he thought they had the answers, more that they had the starting points from which he could properly develop and evolve his own thoughts. One of his favourite passages was the following from Marcus Aurelius:

“Some words once used are now obsolete. The men whose names were once on everyone’s lips, such as Augustus, Hadrian and Antoninus, are now less spoken than in their own days. For all names fade away, become the stuff of legend, and are soon buried in oblivion. This is true, even for those who blazed like bright stars in the firmament; and for the rest, as soon as their graves are complete, they are vanished. Yet, in the end, what would you gain from everlasting remembrance? Absolutely nothing. So what is worth living for? These things alone; justice in thought; goodness in action; speech that cannot deceive; and a disposition that accepts whatever comes, that welcomes all things good and bad as necessary and as flowing from the same source as yourself” - from Meditations, Book IV, 33.

Walter Holt, January 2013