Proof 1859 Coronet gold $20 double eagle among Bonhams June 2 auction highlights

Coin one of 24 lots in auction from the Kernochan Family Collection
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Published : 04/11/14
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One of approximately 10 known Proof 1859 Coronet gold double eagles will be offered June 2 in Los Angeles as part of the Kernochan Family Collection of United States Gold Coins.

Graded Proof 62+ by Professional Coin Grading Service, the coin is one of 24 coins that comprise the Kernochan Family Collection.

Also to be offered in the Bonhams sale is the second part of the Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection of U.S. Gold Coins.

The well-publicized discovery of the Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard coins occurred in France in February 2012 when, according to the vineyard, several of the coins rained down on a worker remodeling a former grape-drying facility. 

Kernochan Family Collection

All the 24 gold coins in the Kernochan Family Collection have been in the possession of the Kernochan family and were uncovered in the bank vault of John Marshall Kernochan (1919 to 2007), an early 20th century patriarch of the family.

According to Bonhams, the Kernochans were an Irish immigrant family who first worked as colliers and teamsters, then made a fortune in dry goods in the 19th century.

“Joseph Kernochan’s (John Marshall Kernochan’s paternal great-grandfather) sons and daughters married into New York’s aristocracy and rose to become members of Mrs. William B. Astor’s ‘Four Hundred,’ ” according to Bonhams. “According to legend, this was the number of society’s elite who could fit into her opulent ballroom.”

The PCGS Proof 62+ 1859 Coronet double eagle in the Kernochan Family Collection is one of fewer than 10 examples extant from a reported mintage at the Philadelphia Mint of 80 coins. (An April 7 Bonhams press release suggested a lower survivor population.)

According to Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth in the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, two examples are in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History; one is in the holdings of the American Numismatic Society; and two are reportedly in complete sets assembled containing Proof 1859 coins.

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