AN astonishing coin collection brought together by a North Yorkshire expert has gone under the hammer for £2.3m with the latest sale bringing a world record price for one 450 year old Oliver Cromwell gold coin.

The collection, containing over 520 rare and hugely valuable historic coins has been sold in four parts over the past three years. It belonged to mystery collector Marvin Lessen who came to live in Scarborough in 1962 from America where he had worked in the aerospace and defence industries.

In the final sale of the North York Moors Collection of British Coins, held on January 21, specialist auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, based in Mayfair, put an estimate of £150,000 on the prize coin in the collection, a 50 shilling Oliver Cromwell piece dating back to 1656.

Only 12 were made and the others are believed to be in institutions around the world. It was made by chief engraver Thomas Simon, and includes a rare image of Cromwell, complete with warts.

Peter Preston-Morley, of Dix Noonan Webb, said the £471,200 price which includes commission, was a record for a Cromwellian coin. He added: "It was bought by an American after interest was shown from countries in the Far East, North America and UK.This is the best collection of Cromwellania to come onto the market in modern times, many of the pieces were either unique or the only ones outside an institution.

"Marvin Lessen’s favourite period of numismatic study centred on the mid-17th century, the coins, medals and seals of Oliver Cromwell and the early years of Charles II and the prices in the sale reflected the importance of these coins. We felt that we had kept the best to last and the prices achieved were evidence of this."

Mr Lessen, is known to have started collecting British coins in earnest when he arrived in Scarborough, at the age of 28 having been born in Baltimore in 1934. He worked across Europe and North America and had collected coins, stamps, arms and armour from an early age.

Mr Lessen was well known among coin dealers in London and the North East and renowned among collectors in Britain and America, writing many articles for the British Numismatist Journal. It is understood he still lives in Scarborough but is described as a 'very private person' and it is not known what his reaction was to the £2.3m price tag of his prized collection.