“Historical Medallions”: The Legacy of Irene Neddy Allen

Irene Neddy Allen (1928-2020) and her niece Sarah Heath.
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The marketplace for commemorative medal collecting has expanded in the last 20 years with the introduction of the internet, now bringing customers from all parts of the globe together. It’s never been easier to find an historic medal due to international selling platforms like Ebay as well as local, sole operator websites. It was no different for my aunt Neddy Allen who utilized this new marketplace to launch her own website and maintain business even as her health failed.

Neddy started dealing in commemorative medals in the late 1960’s from her Ground floor flat in Dorset Square, London. She was one of 9 children, born to two Italian immigrants and grew up in Kings Cross. She lived and breathed London and became particularly interested in medals that commemorated the City of London.

She married Peter “Maundy” Allen in the early 1950’s, and it was through him that she learnt about buying and selling medals. Peter got the nickname “Maundy” from his coin speciality, dealing in Maundy money, which is given every year by the current Monarch on the Thursday before Good Friday.

He also helped found the International Coin Fair Organization which started the first coin fairs around the United Kingdom.

Neddy learnt about the medals from “Maundy” and together they travelled to Europe and America to buy and sell coins and medallions and establish new customers.

Irene Allen and Peter “Maundy” Allen meeting the Queen Mother in the mid 1970’s.

Neddy launched her website, Neddy Allen Commemorative Medals in 2007, and was able to showcase her collection to new customers particularly in China and Japan. She had an impressive collection of extremely fine pieces, with a particular focus on 19th century British medallions. She looked out for medals such as those in the City of London series, and the Art Union series.

Tragically, in 2008 she lost her eyesight, suffering from a stroke at the back of the eye which affected her optic nerve. It was a very difficult adjustment for her as dealing medals was her driving force in life. She loved to visit the coin fairs and attend the London auction houses, in search of a beautiful item that she could sell to one of her many customers.

Irene Allen shared her passion for medallions with many people.

Without her sight, all of that became exceedingly difficult for her and it was the website that kept her business alive. Using software that would type emails for her as she spoke, she managed to continue to trade for the next 12 years. I became her assistant, helping to find the medals for her when she had made a sale, as well as read to her the latest auction catalogue. Her memory was remarkable, and she managed to teach me as much as she could about what to look out for, establishing an area of interest and the importance of remembering your customer’s special requirements and getting in touch when an item might be of interest.

Launching “Historical Medallions” has been a way to carry on Neddy’s business, keeping her collection on show for her customers as well as give new customers the reassurance of buying quality product. In a time when searching for a desired medal has never been easier, the difficulty comes with knowing whether an item is truly genuine as there are now many fakes or copies in circulation. Neddy was very conscious about always buying quality and kept a small, trusted circle of dealers and London auction houses as her only source of stock. In this way, Historical Medallions, through Neddy, gives medal collectors and dealers peace of mind that each item comes with a reliable provenance, that will appreciate over time.


We published an obituary in 2020 when Irene Neddy Allen died aged 92.

Neddy Allen created a website for her medals. Sara Heath has added more fresh material but you can still find many medals of her late aunt at “Historical Medallions”.