Heritage Auctions, USA-Philadelphia

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13-08-2018 – 18-08-2018

US Coins Signature Auction & World Coins & Ancient Coins Platinum Night Auction

The highlights from Heritage’s ANA Auctions

At Heritage’s ANA Auctions three coins were absolute highlights: A newly discovered 1854-S $5 Gold Coin sold for $2.1m, a 1792 Gold Piece supposed to have belonged to George Washington, and Spain’s Legendary ‘First Dollar of the Americas’.

1854-S San Francisco Mint $5 gold piece. Credit: Heritage Auctions, ha.com

Newly discovered fourth existing 1854-S $5 gold piece

One of the world’s rarest coins, the fourth known genuine surviving 1854-S San Francisco Mint $5 gold piece – initially believed to be a fake – sold for $2,160,000 Thursday, August 16. The 19th century gold rarity is one of just 268 struck by the San Francisco Mint in 1854, an extraordinarily low mintage for a U.S. gold coin produced during the California Gold Rush.

Of the three remaining 1854-S $5 Liberty half eagle gold coins, one is sequestered in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, forever out of reach of collectors. One remains in a private Texas collection and no one has seen the third coin since armed robbers stole it from the wealthy duPont family in 1967.

“This coin truly is a discovery of a lifetime and collectors were not about it let it get away,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions, who watched the coin sold in a standing-room only auction room. “This auction rewrites the history of coin collecting.”

The seller and the new owner of the fourth coin both wish to remain anonymous at this time. The seller discovered the coin and sought the opinion of collectors and dealers who claimed it must assuredly be fake because of the coin’s legendary rarity.

Seeking a final answer, the discoverer submitted the 1854-S to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) for authentication. After verifying the coin was not the stolen duPont specimen, NGC enlisted the help of the Smithsonian Institution, which provided photographs of its coin. The firm determined coin was authentic and a new discovery.

1792 $10 Washington President gold eagle pattern coin. Credit: Heritage Auctions, ha.com

The 1792 Gold Piece that Might Have Once Jingled in George Washington’s Pocket

A one-of-a-kind 1792 gold coin believed by its previous owner to have once been a cherished memento of U.S. President George Washington sold for $1,740,000 Thursday, August 16. This is the first time the 1792 $10 Washington President gold eagle pattern coin appeared at public auction since 1890; 100 percent of the net proceeds will benefit charitable causes.

It also holds the historic distinction as the earliest gold pattern coin submitted for consideration as a United States coin. “Numismatic researchers widely agree it is one of the most important coins in American history,” said Jim Halperin, Co-Founder of Heritage Auctions. 

Since 1792, the coin has been owned by just eight elite numismatists, who traded it privately for 128 years. Prominent collector and author Eric P. Newman acquired the coin in 1942, and it has not changed hands since.

Newman, a numismatic scholar, died in 2017 at the age of 106 and is credited for creating one of the nation’s most significant coin collections. Since 2013, more than 19,000 lots from Newman’s collection have sold for over $72.9 million at auctions conducted by Heritage, with all net proceeds benefiting various charities.

Despite his vast collection, Newman considered the 1792 Washington gold eagle his favorite coin of all for a special reason. Newman believed the Washington gold eagle was not produced because legend stated it defied the president’s own edict that his likeness not appear on any U.S. currency to avoid appearing as a monarch to the new democracy.

“To my father, George Washington was a personal heroes,” son Andy Newman said. “He considered Washington’s refusal that our country’s first coinage depict his own image on it to be an emblematic example of Washington’s profound humility and willingness to put country before self.”

Spain’s 1538 8 Reales struck in Mexico City. Credit: Heritage Auctions, ha.com

Spain’s Legendary ‘First Dollar of the Americas’

The legendary “First Dollar of the New World,” struck in Mexico City by the Spanish in 1538, sold for $528,000 Friday, August 17.

The first dollar-sized coin struck in the Americas, it was minted under the joint Spanish reign of Charles I and his mother, Joanna. The 8 Reales auctioned is the finest of three known specimens, which made world history when salvaged in the 1990s from the northern Caribbean shipwreck of the “Golden Fleece.” 

“The bold design of Spain’s 1538 8 Reales is highly symbolic,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. “It signifies the end of the middle ages and establishes Spain’s powerful accomplishment of settling the New World.”

Native New World mint workers in Mexico City struck the silver coin about two years after the Spanish Empire opened a mint there in 1536. It features a Gothic style of numerous letters and the crowned royal shield of Spain. The reverse of the coin bears the Pillars of Hercules with a banner with the words ‘PLVS,’ or ‘beyond,’ which defies Spain’s ancient motto Ne Plus Ultra, meaning ‘nothing further beyond.’

“No major museum holds one of these three coins in its collections,” Bierrenbach said, “and that’s why auctions such as this are an extraordinary opportunity to own one of the world’s historically most important coins.”

For more information on forthcoming auctions or the firm go to the Heritage website.