Heritage Auctions’ third installment of the Eric P. Newman collection featuring world coins brought just over $6 million when offered at a Jan. 14 to 16 sale in New York City. Added to the first sale at April 2013 and the second sale in November, that brings the total for the three Newman auctions to more than $33 million.
The introductory essay, “Around the World in 102 Years: From Afghanistan to Zanzibar” helped place the coins in the context of Eric and Evelyn Newman’s 74 years of marriage, during which they have visited more than 150 countries.
On their first journey together in December 1939, while on their honeymoon cruise, they witnessed the scuttling of the German battleship Graf Spee in Montevideo’s harbor. It was the culmination of the first active battle of World War I.
Most of their voyages included acquiring coins for the numismatic collection.
“The Eric P. Newman Collection is without a doubt the finest on Earth, and it is thrilling to see collectors respond when treasures like the 14 ducat appear,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “This collection is highly nuanced and complex in its approach, and bidders understand why it’s important to add these selections now.”
The top lot in the sale was a gold 14-ducat
piece dated 1612 from Salzburg, Austria, depicting Markus Sittikus Graf von Hohenems who was elected Archbishop of Salzburg in 1612. He is perhaps best known for commissioning architectural projects in a Baroque style, many of which remain today and give Salzburg its distinctive character.
It’s a mysterious coin, described in the catalog as, “a complete enigma of a type” and the coin — unique, or very nearly so — was termed a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Graded About Uncirculated 58 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., suggesting that it may have served its purpose briefly in commerce, it brought $211,500 against an estimate of $50,000 to $75,000.
At $205,625, the sale’s next most expensive lot was an AU-50 1729 Russian gold ducat of Peter II. He was Russia’s emperor only briefly as he was crowned following the passing of Catherine I in 1727 and died of smallpox in 1730.
A German gold 10-ducat piece of Saxe-Altenburg dated 1652 and graded AU-58 brought $105,750. Described as an “Incredibly Rare Baroque Masterpiece” the coin is likely one of only a few survivors from a small issue.