Michael Sharp, a lifelong Brightonian, was born in the seaside town on 3 December 1940, where his father was a civil servant. After his education at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School he embarked upon a career in the Post Office in London, where he was employed for some 15 years, principally with the teams of personnel auditing head post offices. Michael’s interest in coins began in his early teens when he was shown a typical schoolboy coin collection by a classmate. Having joined the British Numismatic Society in October 1959, he began to form a general collection of English coins, visiting Seabys in his lunch hour during the week and Olivers, a shop in The Lanes in Brighton, on Saturdays.
Michael left the Post Office and joined the staff of Baldwins on Wednesday, 1 March 1972, remaining with the then family firm for ‘’30 and a third years’’ a phrase he often used to refer to his time there. He recognised that one of the benefits of being a previous collector was that he knew and understood the satisfaction a specialist would have on acquiring a coin of great rarity. Because of this he was able to form lasting friendships with numismatists from all walks of life, learning form them while at the same time helping to enrich their collections. Over time, particularly latterly, he became the ‘go-to’ person when something came up at auction; he would be consulted by museum curators from Exeter to Edinburgh, learned institutions and private collectors alike, who would entrust him with their bids.
Naturally, Michael took on his share of cataloguing coins for auction, being responsible for the dispersal of many important and fine collections. But perhaps the one catalogue which Michael was most proud of was that of Noel Woolf’s Jacobite medals (Glendining’s, 1992). All things Jacobite were of huge interest to Michael; he possessed an excellent library of Jacobite-related books and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a member of the Royal Stuart Society and a life member of the 1745 Association. Michael had helped Woolf form his magnificent collection and before it was sold had ensured it gained the maximum pre-sale publicity by being exhibited at that year’s FIDEM conference and at Messrs Phillips’ salerooms in Edinburgh. Since the turn of the century Michael had been working towards a revised edition of Woolf’s The Medallic Record of the Jacobite Movement, incorporating much new material not known to the original author; at the time of writing it is hoped that Michael’s friend and fellow Jacobite student, Victoria Thorpe, will carry on this work.
On 1 July 2002 Michael joined the team of numismatists at Dix Noonan Webb, where in time he became the firm’s principal cataloguer of British coins, responsible for the four auctions of short-cross and other coins formed by his great friend Jeffrey Mass (2004-2007). Michael’s interest in Jacobite material and culture moved onwards in later life and he formed, in a relatively short period, a fine group of arms armour and relics. This passion fuelled by his work with Noel Woolf gave him great satisfaction, as he had come to enjoy giving other collectors, and brought him into a new sphere of collectors. This collection was sadly cut short in 2012 with his death after a long but bravely borne illness. It was his wish the collection be made available to a new group of collectors and was on offer in whole within our 2013 Scottish Silver & Accessories auction.